We’ve all read articles about gadgets that are supposed to help you get fit and improve your health.  The real question is which ones are hype and which ones really work.

There are wireless scales, performance monitoring devices that clip onto your sun glasses, smartphone apps and wearable sensors that monitor your sleep.

A study from the American National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) found that mobile technology coupled with remote coaching led to improved diet and activity levels in the people being studied.

“The researchers found after 20 weeks of follow up that this group’s average daily servings of fruits and vegetables increased from 1.2 to 2.9; their average minutes per day of sedentary leisure activity dropped from 219.2 to 125.7; and the percentage of saturated fat in their daily calories went from 12  to 9.9.”

Given the interesting results of the study, let’s hone in on this topic to see how we can use mobile technology in our daily lives.

Daily Burn

Daily Burn is a website and mobile app that offers activity and diet tracking, video workouts, remote personal trainers, a community forum, challenges and much more.

It’s a powerhouse in the health and fitness technology space.  Using their offering you could replicate the scenario used in the research study I mentioned above.

Many of us that have gotten a gym membership have fallen victim to the personal trainer phenomenon.  They promise to help you get fit so you can shed your unwanted pounds.

There are a couple of issues however.  First of all, trainers (good ones anyway) are expensive.  Second of all since many people tend to have trouble staying focused and sticking to their goals, they sometimes end up dreading workouts with a trainer!

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Daily Burn offers a sort of middle ground between an expensive gym based trainer and no trainer at all.

By being able to get tailored programs and support via a remote trainer, more of us may stick it out in the gym (or with other fitness activities) and actually see results.

Using this approach you can maintain more control over your exercise regimen and not feel trapped by your gym.

By getting involved in the preparation of training and diet plans, you end up teaching yourself how to achieve your own goals rather than solely relying on a trainer.

The Daily Burn site itself is easy to navigate and is filled with lots of performance tracking capabilities, goals, and more.

Other Fitness & Diet Tracking Apps

While Daily Burn is one great option, there are hundreds of other fitness & diet apps available.  Rather than review a whole bunch of them, I’ll just say this; find one that works for you.

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The key is to simply start tracking and monitoring your physical activity and food consumption, you could even use an excel spreadsheet!

Don’t worry about spending $1, $5 or $10 on one or more apps.  If you manage to find one that works for you, shelling out $10 is a small price to pay to improve your health over time.  Consistency is key.

Nike Fuel Band

There are many imitators, but the Nike Fuel Band is the gold standard in fitness tracking technology.  Strap it to your wrist and wear it all day.

The device will track your movements and activities like dancing, running, baseball, etc.  It comes with a companion app for your phone and your PC to track and visualize your progress and goals.

You can join challenges, share your progress with a community or just track your stats on your computer.  The companion software can help you train for a 5k run, marathon or other fitness goals.

Everything Else

Until you are tracking your physical activity and diet regularly, other health gadgets are superfluous.  Have you heard about the HAPIfork?

It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow you’re eating if you are eating too much or too little in the first place!

What about all the sleep tracking apps and wearable gizmos?  They’re interesting but for most of us, simply getting out and exerting oneself a couple of times a week will go a long way to improving your sleep patterns.

Keep in mind that according to the study I mentioned at the beginning of the article, it was a combination of mobile technology and human interaction that led to success.

Find a community, get a friend involved, play some outdoor games with your kids or arrange an activity with your coworkers to get those motivational juices flowing!

Don’t be mesmerized by cool gadgets with lots of bells and whistles, get back to the basics to really improve your health.

Andrew Martin is a personal finance and investing blogger from Toronto, Ontario with a background in technology and a passion for travel.  His blog, She Thinks I’m Cheap aims to help Canadians make more money by sharing facts, stories and advice.

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4 Comments

  1. Echo on January 25, 2013 at 8:52 am

    The adidas miCoach is a fitness activity tracking system similar to Nike+. It gives you a ton of data, including heart rate information, stride sensor and online workout manager. At $140, it’s geared more towards the hardcore, elite athlete.

    http://www.adidas.com/ca/micoach/ui/Product/#!/mobile

    My wife has the Fitbit, which is more of an all around wellness device that helps you eat better, sleep better, get active and manage your weight.

    http://www.fitbit.com/

  2. Fred on January 27, 2013 at 2:27 am

    Since I started using myfitnesspal my wellbeing increased ten fold. It is daunting to think how many excess calories can be consumed in a flash. I now am much more conscious of what I eat and fell great! I will certainly check out the Nike fuel band looks pretty nifty.

  3. Jerry on January 28, 2013 at 4:31 am

    Whatever leads to bettering your health is good in my book. Good health is your insurance for a good life. Do what you need to do.

  4. Ira on February 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I’ve only been using Nike+ all this time. lol I haven’t really thought of trying out some health apps yet. I guess I’ll just base on your recommendations here on which app to try.

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