Are hi-tech exercise gadgets placebos or practicalities?

Are hi-tech exercise gadgets placebos or practicalities?

We’ve all been there, that moment when you see something and you instantly think “yes, that could definitely work for me that is the thing I need to help enhance my workout.” With the increase of hi-tech gadgets on the market designed to aid your workout then it is easy to think that they are the ones for you, but how do you work out which ones really work and which just give the impression that they are helping you?

With celebrities and high profile individuals making the headlines with their exercise musts it’s not difficult to be sucked in yourself. However what you have to remember is that some of these products may not provide the results you want and just buying them will not help with your exercise goals; as the saying goes ‘where there’s no pain, there’s no gain’ and even when you are buying a product with the best intentions you have to use it to see the benefits.

Recently one of the top figures in our current Cabinet was seen wearing a hi-tech wristband whilst running in a London park. These hi-tech wristbands are becoming increasingly popular and provide the facts and figures people feel they need to track their workout. The wristbands also allow the wearer to monitor their everyday movements, anything from a strenuous run to the movements carried out during sleep. This gives the user a rounded idea as to how many calories they have burnt a day, their sleeping patterns and what they have to change to achieve some health and fitness goals. A number of the products come with smartphone applications which allow the user to upload their data onto computers to monitor and graph their workouts, and even post their results to Facebook and Twitter.

Examples of hi-tech wristbands:

Nike+ Fuelband: This rubber band sits on your wrist and through a series of flashing LED readouts it gives you a rundown of your steps taken and therefore calories burned. It pairs up with software called Nike+ Connect. This product tells you when you hit your goal in the least subtle way possible; by flashing “GOAL” at you and syncs via Bluetooth so your data is always readily available, it also has a watch built in so you needn’t wear both. There are social media options allowing for progress status’ to go live online and even some gaming options via NikeFuel Missions. However this particular device doesn’t monitor sleep movements and whilst it is slim line for the most part, the overall uniform size means that it can get in the way more than the other devices when it comes to everyday activities.

Basis: This product is, essentially, a watch; just one that monitors as well as tells the time. The band has an optical sensor to track blood flow, heart rate, skin temperature and even has a perspiration sensor. This monitors sleep movements and patterns naturally, without the need to enter ‘sleep mode’ and activities are tracked via a highly motivating website. However the company who owns and produces Basis is still in the process of rolling out Bluetooth syncing and apps with the app for the product currently only available on android devices.

Jawbone UP: The product the Member of Parliament was wearing when witnessed during his workout was the Jawbone UP, a small rubber wristband fuelled by an accelerometer tracking movements day and night. The product syncs through your smartphones headphone jack via a plug in cable and has a data storing app which also offers meal and mood tracking. The band has no display, and only has one button which can be pressed to enter wake and sleep modes. This device is one of the thinnest and is very unrestrictive, and during sleep mode an alarm can be set within a time frame and the device monitors when sleep is at its lightest in that frame to gently wake the user up. The device has its downsides though with the lack of a wireless sync and the app appearing quite basic compared to others on the market.

These products are just some of those on the market designed to help increase exercise and diet monitoring, but just how much do they work? A number of them concentrate on the syncing of data to apps but in reaction to this a study from the Kent State University claims that people who spend more time on their smartphones are not as fit as others. It would perhaps appear that the products do aid our monitoring but they do not necessarily aid our workouts and could be classed as placebos as they are encouraging the user to workout. However even if this is the case the products may kick-start the workout that otherwise may not have been carried out so may not be a bad choice for your next workout.

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