In the modern world everything is technological, old production methods have been replaced by robotic arms in factories, letters have been replaced by emails, telephone calls have evolved to video calls, in pretty much every area of life technology is evolving and becoming a more and more prominent part of our lives. So does it make sense that it has moved into the fitness area of our lives?
First let me outline what I mean by fitness tech:
Fitness tech is essentially technology which can be used to help you perform better in a fitness setting and live a healthier lifestyle, there are 3 main types of fitness tech:
· Smart watches - these are made by companies including Fitbit, Garmin, Apple, Samsung and many more. These watches record an incredible amount of information from your step count to your sleep quality and duration to your heart rate throughout the day and uses this information to make estimates on your stress level and overall health.
· Heart rate monitors - smart watches have built in heart rate monitors which are often fairly accurate, however if you want to take the accuracy of the reading up a level then a heart rate monitor from companies such as polar can be a very helpful addition.
· Bands and rings - companies such as Whoop who make wrist bands and Oura who make rings essentially combine the data recording aspects of a smart watch into more discrete devices such as a wrist band or ring.
When is fitness tech helpful:
There are many ways in which fitness tech can be helpful, so for simplicities sake I will break this down into 4 main areas;
1. Information – the technology gives you huge amounts of information about many aspects of your life each of which you can then use to analyse and draw conclusions and can even identify a possible health concern (WHICH SHOULD THEN BE CHECKED BY A DOCTOR – DON’T TRY TO SELF DIAGNOSE). For example if you have felt really run down over the past week you may be able to look back across the data and see if you maybe haven’t got as much sleep over the past couple of days or maybe you’ve done more exercise than usual, all of this can then help you to draw conclusions about your own life and then structure your life in the way which will make you feel the best.
2. Motivation – As humans we enjoy validation hence why when someone says to you “good job” it makes you feel good and appreciated and in itself this acts as a motivation tool. This is how many items of fitness technology work from vibrating and saying well done when you achieve 10,000 steps or giving you reminders and prompts to get up and move if you have been sitting still for too long and then congratulating you when you get up and move about.
3. Realisation – this is one of the key areas in which I think that fitness tech can really help, if you ask someone about their diet and to estimate how much they eat, virtually everyone seems to estimate lower than their actual daily intake, whereas if you ask someone how active they are even just something like how many steps they do a day they will virtually always estimate higher than what they actually do. Can you see how this is a problem and can lead to obesity and other health problems….. people think they are doing more exercise than they are and think they are eating less than they are! Fitness tech can help with this by providing you accurate information which forces you to face up to the reality of your current lifestyle.
4. Range – fitness tech is incredibly diverse and can be used for pretty much any activity ranging from gentle walking to swimming, weightlifting, running, cycling, climbing and many many more. This is a huge benefit because it doesn’t mean you need lots of pieces of equipment you can simply have a smart watch and it will cover you for pretty much all of your needs.
When is fitness tech not a good thing:
Despite all of the benefits listed above there are some cases where I believe fitness tech is not a good thing, the main one of these is if you are just going to use it as an excuse to not work hard! Okay so I know that this may seem harsh, but remind yourself you will still have to work just as hard to get the results, the point of the use of fitness tech is to give you more information so that you can train smarter to maximise results and train most effectively.
Additionally, I don’t think people should always use fitness tech, because then it can become a bit of an obsession and take away from the enjoyment of the training. I know plenty of people who may have had a great nights sleep and wake up feeling great, but if they then look at their smart watch and it says they’ve not got enough sleep they immediately start to feel worse. It is a sort of placebo effect, but one where you follow what the technology is saying over your own body and the golden rule is to always listen to your body first!
To conclude fitness tech can be a good thing, but it should be used as an accessory to the training, hard work and healthy lifestyle choices, it shouldn’t be looked at as a short cut. Moreover, fitness tech is by no means necessary and it can increase the cost of otherwise cheap activities. While having an expensive GPS running watch may give you a bit more information about your pace, distance, cadence, heart rate and many more pieces of information it isn’t necessary and if you think cost is a barrier to exercise for you then you definitely shouldn’t worry about all of the new fitness tech. Just remember there were world class athletes before all of the modern fitness tech so not having the latest fitness gadget should never be an excuse.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post and have found it helpful, if you are looking at purchasing some fitness tech then my personal recommendations would be firstly a smart watch, they record sleep, heart rate, general activity, exercise and on top of all of this can now do most things a phone does. Beyond this if you are interested in taking your training up a level or you are competing at a sport then I would recommend a chest strap heart monitor due to the increase in accuracy over the wrist watch options. Lastly there are many brands out there with fantastic products in both of these categories, so make that you do your research beforehand to see what product would fit your needs best. Always remember to speak to a doctor about any health concerns that you may have both before using the fitness tech or about any concerns which arise while you are using it.