A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that he was also looking to lose a few pounds as part of his 2014 new year resolutions, and in an instant friends suggested several different diets. The overall impact for him was probably one of confusion more than anything else, and at this time of year the Internet is awash with diet and weight-loss tips.
In 2014, I’m going to work a little harder on keeping my weight, strength and fitness in check, but this year I’m going to be much smarter about it. And the way I’m going to do it is by using a couple of apps on my smartphone.
Of course there are now literally dozens of different weight and fitness apps out there, so which to choose? It’s a bit like choosing a ‘Things to Do’ app – you usually have to try out several before you find the one that fits in with your lifestyle. And that I believe is where apps and technology really can and will come into their own – where the technology gives you personal feedback on your own behaviour and lifestyle.
Given that most people seem to be ‘addicted’ to their smartphones, this strikes me as a great way to keep right on top of your weight and fitness levels – through an app that, providing you feed it information, will feed information of immense value back to you.
I’m fairly time poor, so wanted to find exercise that gives me a great workout in the shortest possible time. Kickboxing very nicely ticks that box, but given that I have had little time for the sport over the last few months, I’ve found some great apps which are really helping me in other ways - and without getting kicked in the head.
The Noom app for Android and iOS is just superb. Not only does it act as a pedometer, but it also gives you feedback on what you’re eating, great articles to read about health and nutrition, recipes, areas where you can record your activities, weight and waist sizes and also the number of calories that you’re burning each day. There’s also a useful forum within the app where people just like you are sharing their successes and yes, occasional failures.
I’ve found it fantastic as a way to get a real sense of what I’m eating each day compared to the number of calories I’m burning. Result – I have a much more focused approach to eating and exercise.
I also use the Runtastic sit-ups, squats and push-ups apps, which take me through a short but calorie-busting routine every day. Again, the apps give me personal feedback and show the progress that I’m making. Again, through the Runtastic website, you can connect with people like yourself who are also using the same apps. It’s one thing to have great technology at your fingertips, but a supportive network of like-minded people also at your fingertips further adds to the help and support you need. That’s Social Networking at its best.
Having put a lot of research into what activities I can do on a daily basis that will have a positive impact on my fitness and strength but in the shortest possible period of time, I concluded that squats, sit-ups, push-ups and a daily plank will win every time. (I loathe running, and it takes up far too much time.)
And yes, I use a very basic app to record the duration of my planks called Plank Exercise Workout. To make sure that I stay on track, I also follow @PlankPolice on Twitter with the #plankaday hashtag. If I don’t check in with my daily plank, the Plank Police tweet me a sarcastic message to remind me.
The combination of apps, social media and an online community of supporters will, I believe be one of the most effective ways to help people meet their diet and exercise goals in 2014 and beyond. At the end of the day it still requires personal willpower, but given that mobile technology is increasingly becoming part of our daily lives, if the technology and our network of contacts can support us, then that has to be good news for ourselves and the health of the nation.
And for a bit of fun, one nation (Russia) has taken to rewarding people with free tickets on the subway - if they complete thirty squats in front of the ticket machine! Take a look at this great article on Mashable or watch this video.
By Philip Calvert