How technology is changing the approach to exercise

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As technology continues to evolve, so do the opportunities to aid your workout. Gadgets, devices and smartphone apps developed within the past decade have revolutionized the way we approach and perform physical activity, and these electronics are only becoming more intricate. Whether it’s wearing a watch that monitors your heart rate and calculates distance or merely summoning motivation through your favorite band blaring in your headphones, there’s no denying that technology has infiltrated its way to being a primary companion to exercise. But is all this excess in gizmos and gadgets actually improving the quality of your workout? From enhancing performance to aiding athletic recovery, take a look at whether technology is positively or negatively impacting our overall exercise ability:

Potential health consequences of technology dependency

Looking at the bigger picture, it’s easy to see how society’s progressive dependence on technology could decrease overall physical activity in the generations to come. One study in particular has examined how overconsumption of technology through both occupational and leisure activities may take a toll on the amount of exercise associated with our daily lives. Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill examined trends in countries all over the world, comparing metabolic equivalents of task (MET) hours, or the ratio of working metabolic rate to resting metabolic rate.

Essentially, this measure of energy distribution and expenditure was divided into four elements: work, domestic work, travel, and active leisure activities. The measurement of energy dispersed was then translated into a numeric value, where the lower your the figure, the less physical activity a person experiences. In just over 40 years, the average MET hours calculated by a U.S. adult of decreased from 235 MET hours in 1965 to roughly 160 MET hours in 2009. In addition, “sedentary lifestyle” increased from 26.4 MET hours in 1965 to 37.7 hours in 2009. The researchers attributed one of the primary factors for the drastic decrease in physical activity to the growing dependence on technology, and predicted that sedentary MET hours will increase to around 42 hours a week in 2030.

New gadgets aid health research

While technological usage overall may be distracting people from getting the physical activity they need, there’s no denying that specific gadgets geared toward those who cherish exercise is helping them maintain and improve their performance. In addition, arguably the people who are benefiting the most from technology’s role in working out are health researchers. Accelerometers are devices that monitor, measure and calculate acceleration, speed and distance, and the growing trend of smart watches and fitness trackers that use accelerometer technology are making health research easier than ever. Live Science reports that the rapid progression of capabilities in accelerometers have allowed scientists to capture data in ways never before executed, with better microprocessors and batteries allowing these devices to obtain 80 pieces of data in one second. These advancements in turn allow researchers to better analyze the proper physical activity guidelines necessary to adhere to a healthy lifestyle, such as how much weekly exercise is necessary to reduce risk of certain ailments and health conditions.

The best gadgets

With so many emerging devices in recent years, it’s hard to keep track of all the latest workout accessories and gadgets. However, there are certainly some electronics that stand out amongst the rest as allowing users to gauge just how effective their workout is, as well as how healthy they’re living.

The Fitbit is a wearable tracking device that fits like a wristwatch, and has been recognized as one of the more valuable gadgets when it comes to monitoring how your daily activities influence your health. From tracking the amount of steps you take in a day, counting calorie intake to evaluating your sleep quality, Fitbit allows users to see how effective their daily habits are in relation to their overall health.

Another recognized fitness tracker that’s gained a lot of attention recently is Mio FUSE, which is being targeted toward those who consider themselves to be more physically active. It can help users accurately monitor their heart rate without having to wear a chest strap, so you can get better insight into the intensity of your workout. The bracelet also provides statistics ranging from calorie count, distance to steps taken, perfect for athletes trying to keep track of their target goals while exercising.

Workout accessories certainly aren’t limited to digital wristwatches. The role personal massagers can play for improving athletic recovery has continued to be concluded through scientific research, as massage therapy has proven to be extremely effective for combating against post-workout muscle soreness, according to a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training. Keeping a state-of-the-art body massager handy at home for whenever you come back from a long session at the gym is just another example of how cutting technology can be a resourceful tool for boosting overall athletic performance.