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Thursday January 24, 2013 9:43 am

Will fitness gadgets actually make us fit?


Fitness Gadgets Fitbit nike bodymedia

Over the past few years, a new category of gadget has emerged with the aim of quantifying our health. You know the ones--Fitbit. Nike FuelBand. JawBone Up. Withings Wi-Fi Scale (and Smart Activity Tracker!). Fitbit Aria Scale. The list goes on. There are trackers and scales from tons of companies that'll sync your details to their servers, share them with services of your choosing, giving you pretty graphs and hopeful motivation from friends and followers to do the right thing as it pertains to diet and exercise. After all, sitting is killing us. Are all of these gadgets actually moving the needle in terms of our fitness levels? Our friend, Dave Taylor, takes a closer look and chimes in with his toughts after the jump.


We eat poorly. We don't exercise. We're surrounded by junk foods that have been genetically altered to maximize shelf life and minimize transport damage, not flavor or nutrition. It's no surprise that the consequence of these changes is that we're getting fat. Not just a few pounds overweight, but substantially more, 30, 40, 50 pounds or more above optimal body weight.

Lecturing people on food quality, nutrition pyramids, organics, and the importance of physical exercise hasn't proven that effective in the overall trends, but there is something that just about all overweight people have in common with the rest of Western culture: a love of technology.

From smart phones to tablets, laptops to HDTV systems, if it can be plugged in or charged, odds are good you and I both have one in our possession.

So it's no surprise that there are a lot of startups in the health and fitness tech area. In fact, there was an entire section at the recent Consumer Electronics Show devoted to these gadgets. And it's clear, some of them are really cool, including scales that can weigh you and analyze the air quality in your house, along with wearable electronics that can even measure and track your skin temperature throughout the day.

But with our zeal for the latest tech gadget, do these things really make us more fit? If we gave everyone in the US a Nike Fuelband or a FitBit or a Bodymedia armband, would everyone really become more healthy?

The answer for most people, sadly, is no.

Withings Smart Activity Tracker

I'm the first to admit that these devices are cool, but gamifying their workout (workout? what's a workout?) and lets them compete for prizes is only works for a small subset of the population, and most of those will immediately start figuring out how to circumvent the system. (My 12yo son, for example, has learned how to game the Wii Fit, recording long runs while moving his hand up and down just a few inches while reading a comic book on the couch.)

It's a complex problem but the primary emphasis on these health tech products is movement and exercise, and I suggest that it's what we're eating that's more of a problem than how much we're moving around and exercising. And so far, the solutions in that space - smartphone apps, primarily - are clunky and too tedious to use for more than a few days.

What we need is food analysis tools so I can take a photo of my plate of food and have calories, fat, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients all instantly calculated and tallied. Couple that with the Fitbits and Withings Wi-Fi body scales of the world and we can maybe accomplish something.

But for now, let me just end by asking: Are you healthier than you were a year ago? Do you have any health tech that's an integral part of your life, and if so, how's that working out for you?

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of everything tech. I just want us to find solutions that can help even those who are barely motivated to make any lifestyle changes reap the benefit of losing weight and gaining improved health. And that's a tough road to travel.

Dave Taylor has been involved with the online world since it involved telephones and modems. He runs the popular tech site AskDaveTaylor.com, along with the single dad blog GoFatherhood.com. You can find him on Twitter as @DaveTaylor.

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Abdessamad Elbaz Abdessamad Elbaz 3/11/14 9:20 am

I heard of this gadget , very smart way to keep track of your heart beats and the amont of steps you walk everyday

I think that gadgets can definitely help people with their fitness goals but my predication is that they won’t help people who are not already regularly following a nutritional and fitness program.

For those who already are on a regular basis they may help extensively, for the rest they will likely be one more distraction.

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Gadgets for me can be the one which helped and annoying because sometimes you will do some movement that should make your gadgets lay down. Don’t push your self to use gadget every time you workout.

Some logical thinking, if you choose medical weight loss method for losing your weight. Can it use gadget to show your movement?? I think the best gadget for monitoring your movement can be used during workout which you can move your body freely with your gadgets.

technology increasingly enable people to do many things preformance

GreanbeansDiet GreanbeansDiet 4/29/14 11:37 am

absolutely agree. Gadgets are fun but are of hardly any use when you’re trying to lose weight.  The best way to lose weight is to move and move and move some more. Fat burning exercises are critical. I also believe one should keep track of what you eat so you’ll be able to control your casual eating impulses.  It’s hard to lose weight fast so it helps to be patient with yourself too. also not forget to consume green beans diet .Thanks.

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sherri w. steele sherri w. steele 5/8/14 11:54 am

You are right. We eat poorly. We don’t exercise. This fitness gadgets really helpful for us. Thanks for share.

I haven’t come across any applications that have single handedly made someone fit. However, they can be handy in helping someone to achieve there goals.

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I personaly think technology is getting out of hand. The fact that everything is spying on us and now we cannot even excercise at peace without being watched. I hate the way technology is going everyone is relying on it so much when we do not need most of it. I run a weight loss website myself and I specialize in <a href=“http://www.loseweight101.org”>extreme weight loss tips</a> that provides the best solutions for weight loss needs.

gadgets do not make us healthy, as long as we have only just but never exercise. we are not going to be fit only for the gadget. smile

saidur rahman saidur rahman 5/31/14 5:15 am

As a health and fitness conscious guy, i am very surprised of getting the information about these fitness gadgets. Nike Fuel Band is very much effective to keep on a good fitness for every one. Thanks for sharing my point of view here.

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Gadgets only helps those who are willing to make an effort to achieve it’s goals.

Cavakia Therlonge Cavakia Therlonge 6/1/14 1:25 pm

There are some gadgets that are efficacious in helping us to keep track and hold us accountable, however, Gadgets should always be thought of as the addition to diet and exercise

Technology has made it easier to effectively lose weight but modern convenience has also made it easier to put on. Never ending battle.

Eric Plotts Eric Plotts 6/10/14 4:37 pm

I honestly do no think that these gadgets are beneficial. As we progress further into technology, people tend to get lazier, thus being counter productive.

Fitness gadgets will not make you fit. Becoming healthy takes a mindset and determination. Fads will come and go but the right attitude about exercise is all you need. Sure nike bands and what not can make your workouts easier but they will never be able to do the workouts for you. Then you get into the supplement side of it and people ask, are protein shakes good for you? Yes protein is essential part of fitness and exercising, and whether you are a man or woman, you will need protein to help replenish your muscles after a good workout. But fitness gadgets will not workout for you, but they can help increase your determination in helping you stay motivated for exercising!

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Well these gadgets looks cool but they just remind you what to do next to achieve what you have planned. I prefer to do hard work on my body rather than depending upon these gadgets.

What about the numerous free workout programs and challenges on the internet? These have been popping up mushrooms after the rain. I think these might be actually of some help to a layman, as they usually require no money to spend and there’s nothing to circumvent around. Some have become also rather famous like the hundred push-ups challenge. There’s also loads of free tools to help track your progress like: http://www.pushupscounter.com/
Great article nevertheless, I think someday soon tech will certainly help us train and lose weight effectively.

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By my personal experience no gadget won`t make and keep You fit, if the person isn`t keeping healthy and lean diet and doesn?t train enough.

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I disagree with you. I mean, surely hard work is what gets it done, but gadgets really can enhance your performance and keep you focused. They arent absolutely necessary, but instead are a great tool to be utilized!

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Shirley Healthy Eater Shirley Healthy Eater 7/21/14 11:43 pm

Of course not, the only way to get fit is by moving and physical exercises and proper food. That is the only way we can get fit, not with some sort of mojo jojo special smart watch which tells you heart beat and other stuff you don’t actually need to know if you are not ill.

Shirley Healthy Eater Shirley Healthy Eater 7/21/14 11:46 pm

Eat healthier - http://community.epicurious.com/post/pov-healthy-eating-diet -  and move about and the results will come faster than with a super smart watch on your wrist.

Great read. I’d say that fitness apps for mobile phones are more important than gadgets nowadays. Basically, working out is much easier with mobile apps. At least for me. We all carry our phones with us. So, you can use the apps to track your results, to measure your heartbeat, distance, apps provide great instructions, they can motivate you when you’re stuck. I personally use few useful apps that make my workouts and diet plans much easier:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.endomondo.android
http://www.steadyhealth.com/ab-workouts-for-men-and-women
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dietcoacher.sos


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