Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Facebook for Fitness?

There are thousands of social media platforms out there, but it's not often you come across one geared towards fitness. Fitocracy provides just that, offering a fun way to track fitness goals, gain points, and compete with your friends.

With features reminiscent of Facebook, you can post statuses, share photos of your progress, and check in at your local gym. Furthermore, Fitocracy allows you to track your workouts with ease, using a large database with thousands of exercises. You find your exercise, input how many sets with how many reps, and input the weight/accessories used as well. You're then given a score for each workout, and the higher your points get, the more you level up.

Whether you're just getting started in fitness, or you're a hard-hittin' weight lifting machine, Fitocracy is a great way to stay motivated and socialize your workouts.

Tinké

It's amazing what technology can do these days, especially when it comes to monitoring our own health. Just when I thought smart pedometers were the new big thing, I came across a little gadget called Tinké by Zensorium (Check out the website–the design is beautiful).
This pocket-sized iPhone accessory packs a lot of power, allowing the user to measure their heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiratory rate, and heart rate variability–all you have to do is place your thumb on the sensors. It even gives you a "zen index," indicating your stress level. The beautifully designed iPhone app provides detailed analytics and graphing, all while maintaining a simple user-interface.

This revolutionary product offers an at-home and on-the-go monitoring ability like no other, and it's sure to set a whole new standard for health & fitness gadgets.

Check out their video!

 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Trying to kick the nicotine?

Long ago, I used to be a smoker. I know, I know. I'm a health-nut that used to smoke cigarettes–what a contradiction. Back then, I was naive to the power of technology, so I had to quit the old-fashioned way (by convincing myself). However, LiveStrong introduced a whole new way to quit smoking–via their iPhone app MyQuit Coach.

The app approaches the task of quitting nicotine from multiple angles. The first is through a personalized quitting plan. You set the date you want to quit smoking, and MyQuit Coach does the rest.  You're given daily allowances, and you must track when you have each cigarette. Ultimately, the plan is designed to wean you off of cigarettes instead of just quitting "cold turkey."

However, it doesn't stop there. The user gets daily motivational messages, and also has the option to upload their own personal motivational messages. You then earn badges and awards for good achievements, and are able to track your progress through charts. If you're a smoker and you find yourself saying "I'll quit tomorrow" too often, I highly recommend giving this app a shot.

Here are some screen shots:



(Images from Livestrong.com)

The Smarter Consumer

Shopping for the right products can be hard. The amount of options when walking into our local grocery store or drugstore is often extremely overwhelming. You can read as many labels as you want, but the companies are always going to try and make their product sound like the best one.

An iPhone app that I found–Consmr–offers a great solution to this dilemma. Consmr is a powerful platform where consumers can see product reviews and alternatives for thousands of products. It allows the user to simply scan the barcode of the product for an even faster and more accurate return, instantly bringing up the reviews and possible alternatives for that product.

I've used it myself to find the best products that I'm looking for, and I found it extremely helpful in the area of toiletries. I'm always trying to find better bath & hygiene products, and this app gives great insight into what I should try.

Below are some screenshots from the app:


Monday, December 3, 2012

Online Support Groups

One of the best aspects of the internet is being connected to millions of people. However, a lot of people don't know the variety of ways this aspect of the internet can be beneficial. A significant way is through the use of Online Support Groups. People who are faced with health issues are inclined to want to speak about these issues with someone, but in a lot of cases they can't find the time, resources, or gain the courage they need to speak with someone. This is where the internet can become a powerful tool.

Online support groups are created and maintained for virtually any health issue, easily attainable using basic search engines. For example, having grown up with Cerebral Palsy, I found myself searching support groups quite often. Having returned numerous results, I was able to sort through and find the support groups that were the most helpful to me.

Support groups not only offer millions of options, but are extremely beneficial in the sense that one can (1) remain anonymous, (2) access these websites on their own time, and (3) connect to any number of individuals worldwide. There's no need to deal with making weekly appointments, having a limited number of local people with the same health issues, or having to expose your identity and attached health issues to other individuals.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Counting Calories - Mobile Style

There's a lot of emphasis in today's society on our caloric intake. It seems that every weight loss, weight gain, or nutrition-based diet uses calorie counting as its main function. The downside is - counting calories can be a drag. Especially when you can't just turn to the nutrition label to find out how many calories you're consuming. And you never want to be that person that asks the waiter to find out how many calories are in your meal.

However, thanks to ever-evolving technology, there are much easier ways to count calories using your phone. iPhone, for example, offers tons of apps designed to count calories. It can be a little stressful to try and figure out which one to use, so I'm going to focus on my favorite one:  Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal.

The app allows you to search and add foods quickly and separates your meals, allowing you to save favorite meals to easily duplicate them later. The best part is, the database has millions of different products and restaurant items that you quickly add. That means that instead of just looking up the average calorie count for crackers, you can add the exact brand and flavor of crackers you ate. And if the database doesn't have what you're looking for - you can add it!

The tracker conveniently tells you how many calories you have left for that day depending on your stats (age, height, weight, how much you want to lose/gain, etc.) It's a personalized plan that provides goals and statistics to keep you on track. You can even track exercise and it will deduct calories from your daily intake based on the amount and type of exercise.

Here's a couple screen shots:

(Images taken from iTunes)