The technology-minded modern lifestyle doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’re constantly engrossed by your smartphone, television, laptop, tablet, video game console… the list of devices seems to go on forever, doesn’t it? And even though most of those can make life easier (or at least more entertaining) in a variety of ways, they can also lead to laziness. And from there, we can become disconnected from reality in a number of ways, including our goals to live healthier. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Over the past few months, I have looked into different ways to use the tech devices at my disposal to use them for a greater good: my health. And like Kelly wrote recently, I decided to focus on a bucket list instead of the whole “I’m going to hit the gym more this year!” series of resolutions that end up being a year-long guilt trip. And one of those bucket-list items is sharing the knowledge I’ve gained through my research of connecting tech and a healthy lifestyle.
Considering CNET‘s report that the majority of mobile phone users have smartphones, chances are that you (the reader) may even be reading this on your iPhone, Android, etc. And if that’s the case, the easiest way for you to find the link between that device and your health is by hitting your phone’s app store. Once there, you’ll probably be overwhelmed by the number of helpful options at your disposal—but don’t be. That’s why I’m here.
If you’re looking for ways to keep up with your exercise routine and track the calories you’re burning, you can’t go wrong with Runkeeper. It’s completely free to download, unless you opt to pay for the additional features, and will become the motivation you need to keep going. It can remind you to exercise if you haven’t done so in a little while and it’ll tell you exactly how far you went on your recent run or bike ride. The latter option is particularly helpful because it helps you map out exactly how far you may want to go tomorrow (or whenever). For me, this app has worked the best so far.
That being said, I’ve also been using Fooducate to monitor my diet. While this app can track your activity, too, it’s not quite as intuitive in that regard as Runkeeper. With that in mind, I advise using both of them at once, especially because Fooducate really shines in helping you keep up with whatever you’re eating. In addition to tracking the calories you’re taking in, it also has user ratings and all the nutritional facts about the food or beverage you just consumed. Truth be told, there are other apps that can provide similar services, but this one’s presentation just makes everything feel more natural and actually kind of fun.
The thing is, I quickly found that I wanted to separate my phone from my exercise routine. At least, for me personally, I just wanted it to serve as an mp3 player for my runs while something <em>else</em> kept up with my activity. Thus began my research of the increasingly trendy wristbands that track your movements, workouts, and even sleep routine.
And after browsing for hours, reading a slew of reviews, and basically doing enough research to become an expert on the things, I went with the UP by Jawbone. In addition to not being quite as pricey as other options, it had just the right look I was searching for (the sleek black option) and all the features you could want. It also goes beyond simply monitoring your exercise and activity.
As I wrote earlier, this little shower-proof device (important!) also tracks the quality of your sleep. For a writer like myself with weird snoozing hours, this was of the utmost importance, if only because I find myself staying up way too late and feeling groggy when I get up in the morning. This wristband is helping me figure out when I should hit the hay and get the Zs I so desperately need.
Like with anything, your personal preference may vary when it comes to these devices and apps. You may find that another activity tracker better suits your needs or that something like MyFitnessPal is the app for you. Whatever you go with, I just hope it helps you meet your goals in 2014—and beyond.
Author Bio: This is a guest post by Kevin Gannon, a young writer aiming to balance his new career with a healthy lifestyle. He’s been successful thus far using his smartphone for more than a means of constant procrastination.