In the age of the inveterate net surfer and the couch potato, life can get really sedentary, making you put on weight and hurting your health. However, if technology be the curse, it can also be a boon in the digital age.
You can now sleep better, exercise better and perform better with help from some apps.
We have in the past discussed mobile apps that help us monitor our exercise routines and activities like cycling and jogging, such as Endomondo and Run Keeper Pro.
But software apps are not just it. There are real hardware machines that help you track your habits - from how well do you sleep to whether you are aligned with the rhythm cycles of your body to how many steps do you walk in a day. Read on to get a hang of the health-friendly gizmos.
@ $99.95 (R5,800)
Fitbit gadgets have been around for some time, but the Flex is a surefire winner. Wear it like a bracelet, and it keeps track of your daily activity --- such as the number of steps walked/jogged and calories burnt. At night, it monitors your sleep pattern, and even how many times you woke up during the night. The Flex gives you feedback in as a bar chart through its five LED bulbs, each of which signifies 20% of goal achieved: if four bulbs light up, you are 80% of your target, work harder!
The Flex can connect to your Android phone or iPhone, and gives you a mobile dashboard that gives you wireless access to the device. The data also goes to the Fitbit website, so you can see where you are on your goals, and map your performance. You can also share data with friends, if you so desire. The Fitbit Flex’s battery lasts for five days, after which it needs to be recharged. It is waterproof, and you can even wear it to the pool.
@ Rs. 900 onwards
This is one of the pioneering fitness gadgets: clip it to your trousers or shorts, and it would count the number of steps you walk or the distance. It is still one of the most popular gadgets around. The catch is that the ecosystem has advanced so much technologically, but still the typical pedometer cannot talk to other gadgets. However, there are variants that you can plug into your computer via USB ports and maintain records using an Excel spreadsheet. And yes, it pays to remember that walking alone may not be enough to achieve all your fitness goals.
Up by Jawbone
@ $129.99 (Rs 7,540)
The ‘Up’ from Jawbone looks and feels very similar to the Flex from Fitbit. But while the Flex fits like a watch, the Up fits like a bracelet, and is available in eight colours.
The Up tracks your sleep, any power naps you may be taking at your work station, and even your eating and drinking habits if you enter the data on the app. It tracks your mood and your idle time as well. It has a ‘gentle smart alarm’: it understands your sleep cycle, and will gently vibrate on your wrist to wake you up at the right time (approximately 256 minutes after you slept).
The Up also works with the iPhone and Android, and works with multiple apps. It comes in three sizes, and has dual LEDs that show if your band is in the sleep mode or in the active mode. You can also press the active mode LED to indicate you are starting a workout. The Up is waterproof — but you cannot swim while wearing it.
@ $149 (Rs 8,642)
The most expensive gizmo in this line-up, the Fuelband can also double up as a wristwatch. It has an OLED display that shows your target, the calories burnt and the time on the wristband in realtime. It also has its own set of apps that will let you measure your activity and keep your goals visible through a dashboard.
The downside is that it has nothing for the sleep pattern. Also, the Nike+ app works only on the iPhone as of now. There is no support for Android. You can share your activities both from the app as well as its Web interface. It can keep a profile of your workouts, and keep you motivated as well.
The Fuel is available in black, transparent white and transparent black, and is a cool fashion accessory. It is water resistant, but again, not good enough to cope with a swimming pool. The battery charge lasts for about four days –or less, if you go to town with the LED display. It has a built-in USB plug for charging.
Footnote: Some of these devices are available in up-market stores. Some can be ordered from their international Websites. Do remember, when you order from sites such as Amazon.com, there will be a shipping cost in addition to the customs duty. It is cheaper to ask friends or relatives returning from abroad, to bring it for you.