Apps and Gear to Help You Meet Your Fitness Goals
From apps that track your calories to the latest fitness watches, we take a look the technology that can help you on your way to a healthier 2021. Photo: Marko Geber
Especially after the year we’ve just endured, many are looking to 2021 as a fresh start.
And this might include taking better care of yourself, since you might be off your game because of pandemic life. After all, most of us have been holed up at home — which likely means eating more and moving less — not to mention the stress of health (and possibly financial) concerns.
Well, it’s never too late to turn things around, and tech can play a role in helping you achieve your weight loss and fitness goals. The following are some apps and gadgets to consider.
With free apps like Lose It! and MyFitnessPal (iOS, Android), millions of food items and restaurant dishes are in the database, to provide an accurate look at your caloric intake for each meal. To make it even easier, scan the barcode of food products to automatically log the info. Set a goal, such as lose eight pounds in four weeks, and the app will calculate what your caloric intake should be each day. Exercise is also factored into your daily routine.
Noom, on the other hand, has also become a popular platform for weight loss, with more of a psychological approach to achieving your goals. It’s not about strict diets, but rather, a healthy balance of food intake – both in quality of food and portion size – and with virtual coaches to help you conquer food triggers and shopping decisions, and “psych tricks” to building good eating habits. The program costs $59/month.
Another option is myWW+ (formerly Weight Watchers), an app that compliments the myWW+ program that customizes a weight loss strategy for you. A meal prep tool called “What’s in your fridge” helps you find out what to eat based on the foods you have on hand. Fitness workouts, sleep monitoring, and bite-sized meditation sessions are also part of the app, along with a barcode scanner, water tracker, daily recipe suggestions, and more. myWW+ costs $22.99 a month, plus a one-time sign-up fee of $34.99.
When it comes to fitness, the free Map My Fitness lets you easily calculate the impact of your physical activity – whether it’s a walk, jog, run, hike, or bike ride. Heck, even vacuuming can be tracked. Your workout is analyzed, so you can see your progress and stay motivated. The app can also connect you with other users in your area to join a group, if desired.
For something a little, er, different, try the free Zombies, Run! app, which lets you hear a chilling tale in your headphones about a zombie-infested future, and you’ll need to run faster to get away from the flesh-eating undead. You’ll collect virtual supplies to build up your base, such as ammo and medicine. This app features more than 100 missions, a “Zombie Chase” interval training mode, the ability to run with your own music and more.
You don’t need to spend thousands on a high-end fitness bike, plus a monthly service plan, to exercise at home.
Instead, a wearable fitness tracker or smartwatch lets you choose how you want to stay fit — with whatever equipment you already have at your disposal (or none at all), and even if you’re working with limited space at home.
For example, the Fitbit Sense ($359), Samsung Galaxy Watch3 ($499) and Apple Watch Series 6 (from $529) can calculate your activity, including how long you’ve been active, as well as steps taken, elevation, pace and distance traveled and estimated calories burned.
Fitbit Sense also detects electrodermal activity tied to stress management, skin temperature, and has an integrated electrocardiogram (ECG) to help assess your heart heath. The smartwatch also has voice support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and can show you notifications tied to calls, texts, emails, and more, from a nearby phone.
Samsung’s wearable offers an elegant, classic look — available in two sizes and in black, silver or bronze — each with a rotating bezel for an intuitive interface. The watch is equipped with more than 120 home workout programs to choose from.
Apple Watch Series 6 also includes an embedded ECG that can detect unusually high or low heart rates, or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), as well as a Blood O2 monitor (pulse oximeter) to assess the amount of oxygen carried in the body by sending light into your wrist. This watch also has integrated Fall Detection, which can call emergency services and select contacts if it detects a sudden drop and you don’t confirm you’re ok.
Apple Watch Series 6 also works with Apple Fitness+ ($12.99 per month or $99 a year), a smart new video workout service that incorporates the activity metrics captured by Apple Watch, for users to visualize on their iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.