Technology can help you to get fit, but you’ll still need to get yourself off the couch!
By Elissa Baxter
If you want some exercise, technology can’t do it for you (that horrible old brick of a laptop your boss just gave you doesn’t count, even if you work up a sweat carrying it anywhere).
But technology can help. Websites like www.hundredpushups.com, which offers a six-week plan to get you from zero to one hundred push-ups, offer plenty of good advice about fitness and exercise and motivation to get you active. There are also gadgets galore that can help. The simplest are pedometers, little devices not much bigger than a lipstick case, which record the number of steps you take. Team a pedometer with another simple technology – a pen and paper – and you can quickly build up a record of how many steps you take in a day, week or month. Start to time your walks and you’ll even be able to compare different walks or runs from different days to challenge yourself to improve and beat your personal best.
Take it online
Pedometers start to become more fun when you marry them with other technologies. The Omron HJ720ITE PC Pocket Pedometer hooks up to a PC so you can upload data about your walks or runs and analyse them. That may sound a tad geeky, but it helps a lot if you want to set goals and compare your workouts.
An even better idea is a pedometer with satellite navigation built in. Mixing satellites and exercise sounds like it’s designed for blonde exercisers who might not be able to find their way home from a long run, but these machines are actually designed to track you on a run or walk so that you can create maps of your journeys. You can even upload the data into your PC, then transform it into maps using Google’s mapping service. Websites like www.mapmyrun.com then offer the chance to build up a library of workouts so that, once again, you can see just how well you are doing.
Phone a friend
If the idea of shelling out big dollars on an exercise gadget makes you think that perhaps a gym membership is not such a bad idea after all, there are two alternatives. One is your iPod. Nike and Apple have teamed on a $48.00 Nike + iPod Sport Kit that tracks your runs thanks to a small sensor you place in a shoe. The sensor talks to your iPod, which in turn talks to your PC for the usual tracking tricks.
The other alternative is a mobile phone. Nokia makes software called “sports tracker” that turns its satellite-navigation-equipped phones into a passable imitation of a dedicated exercise computer.