10 High-Tech Health Tools to Try This Year
Last Updated: Jan 14, 2014
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Whether your goal is to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, or increase your fitness, these high-tech tools can help you get healthier and more fit in the year ahead. From activity trackers to scales than measure more than just your weight, read on to see some of the latest gadgets you could use to help track your health and fitness. These 10 devices may provide the accountability you need to reach your goals this year.
Clockwise from top: Fitbit, Thomas Northcut/Getty Images, Withings Smart Body Analyzer
WIRELESS SCALES THAT TRACK WEIGHT AND BODY FAT PERCENTAGE
The number on the scale can only reveal so much about your fitness progress – and the new wireless scales specialize in offering a bigger picture about your body’s real composition, beyond simply your weight. “The Aria Wi-Fi Scale by FitBit is on my wish list this year,” says Jessica Matthews, M.S., assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College and certified personal trainer. “This new Wi-Fi enabled scale syncs with your mobile device to track both your weight and your body fat percentage,” explains Matthews. “The fact that it allows you to track your progress (which is displayed to you in graph format) is just another tool to help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals in 2014.” OPTIONS & PRICE: Fitbit Aria at $129.95 and Withings Smart Body Analyzer at $149.95.
Clockwise from background image: Maridav/iStock/Getty Images, Sony, Samsung
SMART PHONE WATCHES
With more and more phone companies introducing wristband-compatible devices, it’s easier than ever to tap into a fitness app or streaming video. Whether you are in the gym, or working out at home, accessing your favorite fitness program via your wrist means you can stop worrying about getting your phone or tablet sweaty during your workout and, quite possibly, get better results faster. “Like having a trainer or workout partner, these small tech devices can give you everything from directions to a ‘reached your goal’ slap on the back - and fast,” says Michele Olson, PhD., professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University. OPTIONS & PRICE: Samsung Galaxy Gear at $299.99 and SONY SmartWatch at $199.99.
Ryan McVay/Getty Images, Set Starter
SET STARTER INTERVAL TIMER
If you are a fan of HIIT or Tabata, you’ve probably been using an interval timer for your workouts. And you probably know that keeping an eye on the clock during your workout can be tough to do (especially if it’s on your phone)! Enter the thumb-sized Set Starter -- a petite, multi-tasking interval timer that can track intervals up to 5 minutes in length. Set the device to either beep, flash a light, vibrate or do all three when the interval duration is up, and use the repeat features for continuous alerts for circuit training workouts, says Matthews. “The convenience of wearing this tiny device on your finger works perfectly for everything from indoor total body HIIT workouts to outdoor interval runs -- it's by far my new favorite training tool,” she says. “And it's cost-effective.” PRICE: $29.95.
Find Out More About Set Starter
Unlike traditional saunas that rely on steam or hot rocks for heat, infrared powered saunas heat up the body directly by penetrating the skin (using the same energy released naturally by the sun) instead of the air, to increase the body’s core temperature. The result is a more dry, gentle and comfortable heat that won’t make you want to jump out after 5 minutes -- which is important because longer sessions offer greater health benefits. Compared to a traditional sauna, where a person sweats out about 3 percent toxins and 97 percent water, in an infrared sauna, a person sweats out 20 percent toxins. Furthermore, a clinical study led by researchers at the University of Missouri Kansas City found that participants who enjoyed a 30-minute infrared sauna session, 3 days a week saw a reduction in blood pressure. “Regular infrared sauna therapy can help with detoxification, weight loss and pain relief. I recommend Sunlighten saunas because of their near infrared LED technology shown to improve cell health, immunity and skin rejuvenation,” says Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D. author of “The Fat Flush Plan.”
“Trackers provide ‘doable’ daily challenges that give the user a sense of accomplishment by means of simple quantifiable feedback,” says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and author of “Beat the Gym.” Holland’s favorite? The Bowflex Boost wristband. “It costs significantly less than most of the others, yet tracks all of these metrics including sleep,” explains Holland. “It also has a great free app that goes with it, and it is super-easy to use right out of the box.” Compatible with iphone and Android devices, the Bowflex Boost features step, sleep distance and activity tracking, Bluetooth connectivity, a free mobile app and long battery life (the USB-chargeable battery lasts up to 11 days), making it a great budget buy for less than $50. PRICE: $49.95.
Find Out More About Bowflex Boost
Erik Isakson/Blend Images/Getty Images, Jawbone
The Jawbone UP24 system includes a wristband tracker that can connect wirelessly with both the Jawbone UP companion app as well as with your favorite health and fitness apps for data syncing whenever and wherever you want. Use it to keep track of your food intake, steps, distance, calories, active time, idle time and even sleep quality. One downside? While the Jawbone UP band is compatible with most devices, the UP24 is not currently compatible with Android. PRICE: $149.99.
Find Out More About Jawbone’s UP24
Compatible with Mac, PC, select Android phones and most iOS devices, the Fitbit Flex wristband and its companion app keep track of your sleep quality, calorie burn and activities. And it also works with many other popular health and fitness apps. Unlike some bands that only come in one size, the Fitbit Flex comes in two adjustable sizes. “The constant feedback is motivating. I play a game with myself to get in my 10,000 steps a day. I'm also very motivated by my sleep patterns and it evokes behavior change in me -- when I see a pattern of lack of sleep or poor sleep -- I pay attention and try to change that,” says fitness expert and board chairman for the American Council on Exercise Chris Freytag. PRICE: $99.95.
Find Out More About Fitbit Flex
The Polar Loop helps you monitor your activity and calorie burn. Plus, it stores up to 12 days worth of data. Added bonus: this custom fit wristband from Polar is waterproof. Yes -- you can wear it swimming! The only downside is that the price of the wristband does not include a heart rate sensor, which can cost you between $69.95 or $79.95 more. It’s compatible with most devices. PRICE: $109.95
Find Out More About Polar Loop
Tom Merton/Caiaimage/Getty Images
MYPLATE FOOD AND FITNESS TRACKER
Livestrong.com’s free MyPlate food and fitness tracker has just been redesigned and revamped with new features to make it faster and easier for you to reach your fitness and weight loss goals. There’s even a free companion mobile app. With MyPlate you can see how many calories you should be eating each day to meet your goal and you can easily track your eating and exercise with just one click, get daily motivations and tips, personalized meal plans, daily nutrition charts, graphs and goals and great community support. PRICE: FREE.
Find Out More About the NEW MyPlate
STRONGER 8-WEEK ONLINE WORKOUT PROGRAM
These 10 body-shredding HIIT, strength and plyometrics workouts were created by celebrity trainer Nicky Holender to get your body looking like you’ve spent hours at the gym in just 30 minutes a day. The workouts are challenging and fun and there is no equipment needed, so you can do them in your living room, your bedroom, your basement or a hotel room. Best of all, they are completely free and you can view them anywhere you have an internet connection – on your laptop, your mobile phone and/or tablet. PRICE: FREE.
Find Out More About the Free STRONGER Workout Program
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you have a favorite gadget, app or other tool that helps you monitor your health, weight or workout intensity? What is it and how do you use it? Did we miss mentioning any of your favorite new fitness gadgets in this slideshow? Leave a comment below and let us know.
Nutrition, Workouts & Tips