Achieving Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution, Digitally

Composite image of man working out in gymIf the holiday season is the time to indulge, January is the time for people to start thinking about getting healthier.

Perhaps it’s the extra pounds you put on, or you’ve set your sights on a tropical destination for Spring Break, but two-thirds of all Americans who set New Year’s resolutions include fitness goals.

Unfortunately, most people don’t make it very far with regards to actually achieving their resolutions. According to statistics, almost 75% of people give up before reaching their goals, and 1 in 3 people don’t even stay with it through the end of January!

So what can you do to make your fitness resolution stick? Technology tools may be the trick.

Fitbit activity trackers were one of the hottest items on many “cool gadget” Christmas gift lists for 2015, and no wonder. Fitbit has taken a longstanding fitness tracking tool, the pedometer, to a whole new level and made it a fashion trend on top of that.

From $99 to $250 (plus accessories, if you want to really dazzle the fitness world), you can get a bracelet that at its most basic level monitors your steps and sleep patterns, synching with your computer for tracking. More advanced models have additional features such as heart rate monitors, MP3 players, phone connectivity, alarm clocks and even GPS.

Of course, having cool wearable technology is not what actually gets you fitter. It’s how you use it. You’ll notice there’s a trend, no matter what gadget you go with. It’s tracking. Tracking steps. Tracking your heartrate. Tracking your weight. And if you’re really serious about losing weight and getting healthier, tracking your food.

With new technology, tracking doesn’t have to be a chore. Many heartrate monitors and electronic pedometers now interface with computer software for tracking. And thanks to smartphones, you now don’t even have to use multiple gadgets. For most things fitness and health-related, the common adage “there’s an app for that” is true.

myfitnesspalOne of the most comprehensive and popular health and fitness tracking apps for both Android and iPhone is MyFitnessPal. Originally designed to be a calorie counter, it now boasts of more than six million foods in its database. Even better, it has a built-in barcode reader, so all you have to do is scan the package barcode and it automatically brings up all the food’s nutritional values. You can set goals, track your weight and activities, connect to a support community and … wait for it … yes, even sync with other apps such as MapMyRun and Fitbit! The free basic app has a lot to offer, but if you want to go deeper, $10 per month or $50 per year will get you the premium version, which is ad-free and has exclusive content and advanced nutrient tracking.

Once you’re up and going with your new diet and exercise program, you’ll want to measure your progress in terms of actual health. That’s where new “smart scales” come in. More than just providing a weight
readout, some of the newer electronic scales like the Wither WS-50 Smart Body Analyzer measure body fat and heart rate levels, then connect via WiFi or Bluetooth to an app that enables you to track these elements over time, even correlating them to your caloric intake so you can see when your diet is working, and when it’s not.

Don’t want to be a slave to the scale? Track your inches instead! Health o meter now has a digital measuring tape that measures the circumference of eight body parts, and then stores them in memory so you can monitor changes.

Whatever you decide to track, the key is staying with it. And even there, technology can serve as your virtual coach. WebMD offers an online program where you can set health and fitness goals and in addition to providing helpful articles and tracking tools, it will send you motivational reminders via text messages and emails.