Is technology helping or hindering our fitness?

469596979_d9481b4357_oWe live in a time where almost anything you can dream up is possible. Technology is changing at such a dramatic rate that it can be hard to keep up with it all. The initial idea was that if we could create these efficient, automated mechanisms to replace some of the manual work we had to do ourselves, that we would have more time for other things. Many have argued that the opposite is happening, that technology takes away certain tasks and replaces them with others and because we have so many different forms of technology and are processing so many stimuli simultaneously, we have been left with attention spans that demand a multitude of quick, efficient stimuli. Some look at this as attention deficit although I would say that the older “1 think at a time” method simply doesn’t apply in our society any more. While you once sat down to watch a movie, now you watch it and text and possibly check facebook and maybe twitter. You may look up the actors in the movie or find out if anything going on is based on fact.

So how is technology affecting our fitness? Are the extra options helping us find ways to stay active or are people simply filling their time with technology that causes them to be sedentary?

Positive Technological Contributions to Fitness

  1. Variety and access: Things like active video games (Nintendo Wii, dance dance revolution) are giving people who would otherwise be playing more sedentary games the option to play videogames and get active at the same time. You don’t just have to run on a treadmill or go for a hike, technology allows for a lot more variety in how to get your activity in throughout the day.
  2. Virtual Trainers + scenes: Many cardio machine consoles now include programs, virtual trainers, virtual tracks and even virtual scenes that make working out both more fun, more trackable and more interactive. The trainers will set up programs and even encourage you as you go. Through things like a virtual run in Rome, you can be visually stimulated while getting your activity in as well.
  3. Online communities: Through things like social networks and apps, you can track your progress as well as those close to you. You can post stories and pictures documenting your progress and look up
  4. New contributions to fitness equipment: In addition to consoles and programs that improve the fitness experience there are also new ideas coming to the market. Things like the Vision S7100 which mimics not only ski strides but also the up and down movement of a hike or the Octane Lateral X which introduces another motion to ellipticals are just some of the newer machines on the market.


Negative Contributions

  1. Devices are often used in a sedentary manner. We are glued to our devices and many jobs now involve sitting at a computer for hours on end. Based on a recent Ipsos Reid poll we conducted:  “33% of respondents said that they spend 4-6 hours a day inactive due to technology while 24% said they spend 7-10 hours.” This included TV, Computers and other device use both at home and at work in a typical day.
  2. We are replacing methods of being active with technology. While we once walked or biked places most people now drive or bus. Even washing the dishes by hand burned more calories then loading a dishwasher. Simple things like going shopping and walking around are being replaced by ordering online.
  3. We are glued to our devices. There is no real time to unplug. Most people even workout while listening to music on their phone. If they get a phone call or text their workout may suffer as they get distracted.

How to come out on top!

  1. Unplug. Whether this refers to fitness or life in general, you should spend some no device time with your friends and family and certainly do that during your workout. If you want to use your phone for music, put it on airplane mode so there are no distractions. In general you will workout much harder when you are not playing on your phone or watching TV.

  1. Be Selective. Find the technological fitness innovations that work for you and ditch the rest. You don’t need a wii and all the fitness apps and the latest cardio machine if you aren’t going to use them. The great thing about fitness technology as mentioned is variety. See what works best for you. It may be a pedometer, it may be an interactive console or it may just be listening to your phone and jogging. Whatever it is, don’t feel like you need everything – only the things that work.
  2. Get up at work. If you work at a desk it is up to you to ensure that you are getting up often enough. You can use your fancy technology for that though. Set reminders on your phone or outlook to get up every 60-90 minutes and stretch or walk to the water fountain.
  3. Always Keep Moving – it really is the best motto. Be as active as you can, as often as you can!



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