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Breaking fitness barriers with the IoT

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The Internet of Things (IoT) can help you eliminate barriers which can often reduce your chances of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

A recent BBC news report states “80% of 40-60 year olds in England are overweight, drink too much or get too little exercise”. In America, around 160 million people are overweight and it is estimated that one third of the global population is overweight or obese.

The New Year represents a new start, and with Christmas being a time of over-indulgence, it is no surprise that getting fit is the world’s number one New Year’s resolution. While sticking to resolutions is a challenge, the IoT can help you achieve and maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Where to start

The vast number of fitness plans and programmes online make it difficult to know which is right for you. It is often forgotten that incidental exercise still counts – that’s walking to the shops rather than driving. An extra 20 minutes a day adds up, and wearable fitness devices, such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch, help to track the benefits of this extra activity.

Many magazines suggest signing up to a 5K run to get yourself in the game – Couch to 5K is a great app for beginners. It’s a nine-week plan, which schedules three workouts a week for 30-40 minutes. The warm up and cool downs are included as well as motivational tips of encouragement and a built in music player.

No time? No problem

Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers preventing people from getting fit. Work, family and friends can very quickly be prioritised, with convenience food and missing workouts becoming the easier option.

Creating clean eating habits is half the battle when getting fit – HAPIfork helps you to do this. It lights up when you eat too quickly, letting you know you should slow your pace down, allowing you to feel fuller on smaller portions. It can be used on the go and you can see your eating stats by connecting the fork to your smartphone.

Smart watches are top of the list when it comes to smart phone accessories. The on-board GPS tracker on some makes keeping note of running and step count a lot easier. They sync to your phone, so being connected is faster and more accessible – perfect for those who can’t find the time to sync and set up multiple devices.

Managing your lifestyle

The isometric exercise device Tao WellShell is marketed as a gym you can fit in your pocket. It is a connected device that can be squeezed, lifted or pressed in hundreds of ways, depending on what muscle groups are being worked on. It helps you to find time for a workout, even if you’re far away from home or a gym. It tracks your fitness progress, sets goals and reminds you to get moving when you’ve been sitting for too long.

If you can’t afford a gym membership, there are many apps out there to keep you motivated.  Runkeeper gives you real-time encouragement, and by connecting to a work-out tracker, it offers detailed stats about distance covered, pace, calories burned and running time. Real-time audio helps keep you motivated – it’s like having a virtual coach – and there are personalisable fitness plans to help achieve specific targets.

The ‘fun’ barrier

Often people give up on exercise because it just isn’t much fun. These wearable devices can help give you a sense of achievement:

Fitbit is a well-known wearable – it’s a real-time fitness tracker that counts your steps and works out how many calories you’ve burned – so a great way of keeping track of both incidental and planned exercise. Most versions track your heart rate, so you have the fun of seeing your heart getting stronger the more you exercise. It’s WiFi-enabled to sync with your phone, tablet or computer.

MyfitnessPal is an app where you track your food intake, exercise and goals. One of the best things about MyFitnessPal is that it synchronises with your wearable devices, and there’s a sense of community (or even competition) as you share your progress with family and friends.

Already hooked? Where to look next

If you’re looking to build muscle, Skulpt Aim might be for you. This wireless gadget measures body fat percentage and muscle quality, so your progress is quickly visible.

Moov Now straps around your leg and pairs with a smartphone. Data collected creates advanced sports training plans (which gradually increase in difficulty), aiming to make you better at the sport you love, whether that be running, swimming or cycling. It also acts as an activity tracker for when you’re not smashing interval training.

Connected exercise devices are developing all the time, getting better at tracking calories and motivating us to get out and about. For more IoT-inspired well-being ideas, take a look at our five-part New Year’s Resolutions series.

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