Add technology to energize your workouts, diet

By Katherine Klingseis, katherine.klingseis@iowastatedaily.com

Technology has found its way into people’s gym bags. Here are five technological tools you can use to help you trim your fat and build your muscles.

1. Fitbit

Fitbit technology can tell you just about everything you need to know to improve your life and help you lose weight. In fact, the amount of information it can tell you is kind of scary — it knows more about your body than you do.

Fitbit Ultra is a small device, about the size of your thumb, and can measure your calories burned and consumed, steps taken, miles traveled, activity levels, when you went to sleep, how long it took you to fall asleep, times awakened, how long you were in bed and actual sleep time. You can then wirelessly transfer that information to a base station and then upload it to fitbit.com.

If you want to know your weight, body mass index and percentage of body fat, try out fitbit aria, a wi-fi smart scale. The information can then be uploaded to fitbit.com and you can track your progress.

The fitbit ultra costs $99.95 and the fitbit aria costs $129.95. You can buy them at fitbit.com.

2. Nike+

Nike has long been dominant and revolutionary in the sports and fitness arena. Nike+, in particular, has dramatically changed and improved the way athletes train.

There are several gadgets and applications Nike+ offers to help athletes get the most out of their workouts. For instance, the Nike+ FuelBand tracks your activity and transfer it into NikeFuel, which you can upload and track online. The band will also tell you calories burned, steps taken and distance traveled.

Nike also sells the Nike+ SportWatch GPS, which tracks your pace, time, calories burned and distance. It also serves as a GPS, and, if linked to a Polar heart monitor, can track your heart rate. The Nike+ SportBand is similar to the Nike+ SportWatch except it uses a sensor in your shoe instead of GPS to monitor your distance and pace.

If you want to learn more about your weight training sessions, you can track your workout with Nike+ Training. Basketball players can also track their workouts with Nike+ Basketball. `

3. Workout Hero

Workout Hero stands out at first glance by its thumbnail of a man opening his jacket to a Superman-like undershirt. When you actually download the app, you’ll realize it’s an app suitable for a superhero. This isn’t surprising when you find out the app was developed by CrossFit, a strength and conditioning program used by the police, military and professional athletes.

What puts Workout Hero above other fitness applications is the vast amount of services it offers. For example, users can choose from different workouts, which are labeled “Heroes,” “Benchmark Girls,” “The New Girls” and “Random.” These workouts consist of different exercises and have a video accompanying them. If you don’t see a workout you like, you can create your own custom workout.

If you are confused about how to do an exercise, Workout Hero provides its users with how-to videos. The app also offers books about diets and exercises and several recipes.

When you complete a workout, you can add it to your calendar and keep track of your workouts and progress. Use Workout Hero to tone your body, and Superman will soon be jealous of your physique.

Workout Hero costs $1.99 on the iTunes store.

4. Zombies, Run!

Zombies have gained a lot of attention in the past few years. From graphic novels to movies to video games, zombies have become a staple of pop culture. Zombies, Run! combines people’s interest in zombies to something people actually need to pay attention to, their health.

Zombies, Run! is an Apple and Android app that challenges users to run in order to survive a zombie apocalypse. When you run, you participate in an interactive story. You will pick up supplies as you attempt to fulfill missions.

You can program it so your music plays as you complete missions. Between songs, you will hear a man telling what to do next on the mission. You can also program it so that you will have to run faster in order to escape a mob of zombies.

Many people do not like running. With Zombies, Run!, the interactive story will make you forget you are even running, making you think about escaping from the clutches of zombies instead. The app suggests zombies can benefit your health.

Zombies, Run! costs $7.99 on the iTunes, Android and WindowsPhone stores

5. Calorie Counter Pro

Exercise is only part of the puzzle. The most effective way to lose weight and improve your health is to combine exercise with healthy eating.

Calorie Counter Pro helps its users monitor what food and beverages they consume. It also assists users with figuring out how many calories they need to consume in a day to gain, lose or maintain weight. All you have to do is plug in your current weight, a goal weight and how many pounds you want to gain or lose in a week.

Throughout the day, users write in the food and beverages they consume as well as the calories they burn. Calorie Counter Pro has a huge database of different foods and beverages, including many restaurant items, and types of exercises. It even lets you scan barcodes to track the nutrients in a product.

In addition to tracking calories, Calorie Counter Pro can also help you monitor sodium, cholesterol, fat and other important components of your diet. You can then analyze those results and monitor your diet better.

Calorie Counter Pro cost $3.99 on the iTunes and Android stores.

(Posted originally on Iowastatedaily.com on Aug. 9, 2012)

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