Try as hard as you like but you can’t escape it. Technology is everywhere and we’re using it for most of the day, every day. British communications regulator, Ofcom, found that on average, UK adults are now spending more time using technology than sleeping.
Statistics portal, Statista, now puts global smartphone owners at around 2 billion and it’s estimated that over 3 billion people in the world now have internet access. That’s 40% of the entire population. Compare this to 1995 when less than 1% of the world was online.
Whilst it’s amazing how much we can do with the click of a button, it means there are now so many more things to keep us sitting down for longer and moving around less. This is causing a global increase in inactivity, resulting in rising obesity, higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
However, it’s not all bad news. Our love of, and reliance on, technology might also be the key to solving our inactivity problem. Fitness technology is one of the fastest growing industries. It’s estimated that the wearables industry will be worth $25 billion by 2019. At CES 2016 (The Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, fitness-related technology was one of the dominating themes alongside virtual reality, self driving cars and drones.
If you’re really serious about using fitness tech, then investing in a wearable (guide here if you’re unfamiliar with them) to monitor activity, nutritional intake, sleep and many other things might be worth it. Wearables now include eyewear, jewellery and smart clothing, alongside the more common fitness trackers, like FitBit, Jawbone or Pebble, and smart watches like the Apple Watch.
Whilst there’s some debate about the accuracy of the data that these devices provide, there’s no doubt that they are great for helping you stay motivated. The devices essentially put activity at the front of the wearer’s mind, with updates easily viewed through an app. Business News Daily found that 83% of Americans using wearables agreed that the products had improved their lives.
Using technology to help you move more (and keep track)
Introducing more walking into a daily routine is an easy way to increase activity levels and bring about a wealth of health benefits. Between 8,000 to 10,000 steps every day are recommended to make a difference. Tracking your steps via an app or a wearable means you can make sure you stay on target.
US insurer, Oscar, has even partnered up with the wearable, Misfit, to link their customers’ biometric information to their health insurance. The Oscar app will literally pay the firm's customers who opt to receive a Misfit to walk, rewarding them with gifts whenever they reach their target number of steps. ***Here’s a guide on how to start taking more steps if you hate walking***.
Diet and exercise tracking apps, like My Fitness Pal not only help with calorie counting and activity logging, they also help you learn more about what’s in your food and how what you eat relates to exercise. They can be useful for ensuring you’re staying on track if you have calorie or activity goals that you want to reach. Recording food intake and activity every day can soon help break bad habits and establish healthier ones.
Create a challenge
Many apps and trackers let you challenge your friends and family, or even total strangers. Adding a competitive edge can help stave off boredom and increase motivation. Sharing results and getting encouragement from friends helps with motivation too.
Apps to check out (if you're not ready to invest in wearables)
- Zombies, Run! Immersive audio game that turns your walk/jog/run into a mission to collect supplies, while running away from zombies…
- Strava Track your running and cycling activity and take part in 30 day challenges. Discover new running and cycling routes through Strava Local.
- RunKeeper Real-life training plans from expert coaches. Track your progress and compare your performance with your friends’.
- The 30 Day Challenge 19 different targeted workout challenges and lots of features to stop you getting bored.
- Racefully This app is still in beta phase (sign up for early access here). It will allow users to run with friends, family and coaches anywhere in the world in real time, any time. We’re looking forward to trying it out a bit later in 2016. More details can be found on this blog post.
So, whilst technology might have made life so easy for us that we never really need to leave the sofa, there are loads of ways we can build it into our lives to ensure a happier and healthier future!