Keeping fit with technology for #bigloser (written for DNA)

I’m re-posting this just for my #bigloser team 🙂

So you’re trying to shape up, shed the pounds and get fit? Here is a list of all things tech that can aid your fitness regime and help you stay the course.

Most people blame their fitness woes on the sedentary lifestyles we all lead these days, thanks to technology. For a change, let’s use technology to get an active lifestyle! How? Read on!

Video games that get you off that couch:

Everybody complains that kids don’t play physical games anymore but simply slouch on the couch with their joysticks. But Nintendo’s Wii comes with a remote control that senses motion in three dimensions. What this means is that you can actually play games as opposed to clicking buttons and watching the virtual character play!

Four years after Wii changed the concept of gaming, Microsoft launched the Xbox Kinect, a controller-free gaming and entertainment experience. It abolished the need for a remote control by using a webcam-like add-on to the Xbox 360 gaming console. With games like Dance Central, burning calories becomes a whole lot of fun, thinks Mihika Singh, 30, HR professional. "I hate the gym and after a tiring day at work, the Kinect helps me unwind and burn some calories!"

For those taking their workouts rather more seriously there are games that monitor your body type and your body movements to get you to work out in the right way. So whoever told you video games would make you fat didn’t get a good look at the Kinect.

PS: I personally use the Kinect. On days that I’m bored, I play Kinect Sports or Dance Central and some days I play Your Shape Fitness Evolved which gives me personal training, cardio and kickboxing classes. It saves me the 25 minutes that I’d spend on commuting to and from the gym. The gym is in my living room!

Fitness in your palm:

While an Xbox may not be within everyone’s reach, a smart phone certainly is. Using the GPS tracker in the phone, a number of apps track the distance that you have covered to give you feedback about your outdoor cardio workout. The most popular GPS-based apps for most of the smart-phone platforms seem to be SportyPal and Runkeeper. Both these apps use the basic information to tell you the pace, intensity and calorie output of your workout.

"These apps not only offer me tangible numbers about my workout, but also allow me to share my workouts across social networks. This helps me connect with my friends and get the motivation I need to stay my course," says Rakesh Rao, an IT professional based in the US who motivates, and gets motivated by, friends across the globe using Runkeeper on social networks. And you thought your smart phone made you lazier?

PS: I use Runkeeper to track my outdoor runs. It allows me to share my workout details over social networks and the likes and the comments I get are a huge encouragement to be regular with my runs, like Rakesh said. And Runkeeper Pro is now free on the Android app market! Go get it!

Fitness gizmos:

If you know what sort of a workout you would like to pursue sincerely, it might be a good idea to invest in a gadget that gives you accurate stats. Sure, kinetic video games and mobile apps aide the fitness regime, but imagine a watch that tracks your speed, calorie output and heart-rate.

Brands like Adidas, Nike and Garmin have been developing gadgets that can provide excellent workout feedback. While Nike’s Nike+ goes into your shoe and synchronises with your iPod Touch to motivate you through your run, Adidas miCoach offers you gear that you can use on the internet, your mobile phone, or the Adidas gadget itself.

But currently the most coveted workout gizmos are Garmin’s Forerunner series of watches. "With a chip in your shoe, the watch uses GPS to track your distance, speed and intensity of the run. Moreover it’s got a USB port to sync it with my computer, so I can store my past workout stats to track my progress over a longer period," says Hardik Shah, 26, IT professional, who is hoping to get back to his running routine with this cool $350 gizmo.

Work-out apps:

"Nike+ and all these apps are great if you’re into outdoor cardio workouts, but for me, weight training is equally important," says Aneesh Bhasin, 25, fitness enthusiast and photographer. Aneesh uses his iPhone as his personal health trainer with apps like Gymtechnik and Gym Fanatic that offer you various workouts, store your workouts, and allow you to share them across social networks. While most apps are free, the paid apps cost a little over fifty rupees. A small price to pay for a fit body, don’t you think?

Nutrition trackers and apps:

Fitness isn’t just about getting some physical activity; it is all about watching what you eat. For Rakesh Rao, both the activity and nutrition tracking happens through his smart phone. He uses LiveStrong’s nutrition tracker to keep a count of calories that go in and then compares it against the calories that he burns. Usually American nutrition apps lack Indian meals in their databases, but Livestrong is an exception. It lists most Indian food items with an approximate calorie count.

PS: I am a foodie (you already know that :P) and often eat out. Livestrong helps me track my calorie intake. This helps me in adjusting my calorie intake by reducing portion sizes for other meals of the day.

Motivation:

In case you need a social network to back you up and give you inspirational stories and motivation, do what Tanu Anand did. She started sharing her fitness goals on Twitter. With the feedback and info she received, Tanu got closer to her goal and stuck to her resolution. "It gave me an insight into my lifestyle. I almost had a lifestyle overhaul of sorts!" she says.

Not a big fan of the regular social networks? No problemo. There is a fitness network that focuses on sharing, motivating and enhancing physical activity. Dailymile, like any social network, allows you to create your own profile where you can share your workout, your mood, the quality of the workout, and more. You can also send motivation to your friends and read inspiring fitness stories shared by others.

Now isn’t that neat? Workouts, calorie counts all taken care of with these apps and gadgets. All you need to do is get cracking and set out to achieve your goal! And in case you find yourself faltering, remember, motivation is just a click away!

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