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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:
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.
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.
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.
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Endurance athletes who take part in marathons, triathlons or century bike rides typically have fitness goals of strength and stamina. Your body needs to be strong enough to carry you long distances, and it needs to have the proper training in order to function for extended periods of time.
Before a race it’s crucial to plan a training program to prepare, and most of this will include running or cycling through intervals of faster and slower speeds, up and down hills and longer and shorter distances. It should also include cross training with strength exercises and core workouts such as Pilates for total body training.
Another factor that should be included in a pre-race program is athletic recovery and stretching. Whether you’re a new or seasoned endurance athlete, you’ll be putting your body through more intense challenges, which is sure to leave you with sore muscles from time to time, but it can also increase your risk of injury. To prevent getting hurt and having a setback, you need to take the proper precautions, which include stretching and massage.
A century bike ride will take you 100 miles, and it will certainly test your mental and physical prowess. This may seem like a lofty goal, but it’s certainly an achievable one that many endurance cyclists aspire to complete.
Being able to bike 100 miles requires serious commitment, dedication, planning and training. Once you decide to take part in a century ride, you need to starting working at least eight weeks beforehand to prepare your mind and body for the challenge ahead. Your training program should consist of long and short rides as well as intervals of different speeds, resistance levels, terrain and hills. It’s also a good idea to cross training with weight lifting to strengthen your muscles and exercises such as Pilates that provide stretching and improve posture.
Another key component is nutrition. Your body won’t be able to last long if it is not being fueled properly. Even slight dehydration can completely zap your energy levels and cause sore musclesand cramps. If this does happen, giving your muscles a massage can help. Additionally, eating the right amount of carbohydrates and fats is needed to fuel your muscles and provide you with the nutrients to keep you going mile after mile. You’ll certainly want to pack snacks to stop and eat during your ride to replenish fuel sources, curb hunger pangs and boost energy. Remember not to pack any foods that are too heavy or hard to transport. A muffin may sound delicious, but it can be messy to eat. Also, be sure not to try any new foods in case it affects your stomach negatively and you have to stop mid-race.
Here are some tasty, helpful snack options to pack for your century ride:
Whether you’re preparing for a cycling race, training for a triathlon or simply appreciate the exhilarating cardio workout you get from riding, your body (the lower half in particular) is certainly being challenged.
Most of your focus will be on the meat of your training – developing programs for each ride to incorporate different terrain, speeds, hills and other aspects of riding itself. But it’s also important to remember that your training doesn’t stop once your session ends. In fact, time spent after you hop off your bike is just as important as time spent on the saddle. Cooling down and taking part in athletic recovery reduces your risk of sore muscles and injuries, which can sideline you and set you back in your schedule. This is especially problematic if you are on a deadline for a race.
After each bike ride you should be taking the time to stretch out your muscles and allow your mind and body to return to their resting states. It’s also useful to incorporate self massage into your routine each week, especially after an intense ride. Massage will help loosen up muscles even further, which is important so you don’t create any imbalances.
There are several key muscles you should focus your massager on after a bike ride: