I often rail against modern conveniences that make us sedentary. I feel a little twinge of contempt for the seemingly healthy person using the ADA button to open a door or taking the elevator up one floor or driving around a parking lot waiting for that spot that is two spaces closer to the front door of the mall. I think most of this contempt stems from guilt. Guilt for spending so much of my day in front of a computer or tied to a smartphone, driving to work when I could have ridden my bike or occasionally sitting down to watch television. So I’m trying to put both the guilt and contempt aside to look at some positive modern conveniences or at least positive uses of them.
When I’m out running or cycling or even hiking I often use an application on my iPhone to track my distance, time, calories burned, etc. There are many of these apps available on the market and many are free or at least have a stripped down free version. The one I use works great for my road bike rides, runs and hikes. Mountain biking doesn’t work as well due to the iPhone’s limitations. It doesn’t “ping” the GPS often enough to properly track the tight turns that I find myself on. Someone who uses an Android phone, please let me know if you have this problem.
Most have features that include playing your favorite playlist (the RunKeeper app turns the volume down on the music when it’s giving you your stats during your workout). I also like that although it says “Run” in the name it has settings for walking, road bike, mountain bike, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, skating, swimming (I’m guessing you’ll need a waterproof cover and a pocket in your Speedo), wheelchair and elliptical. Make sure you check out the social aspect of these apps. Besides posting your workout to Facebook and Twitter, they also act as their own social networks where you develop groups of friends who also use the apps allowing you to get a bit more competitive.
These apps are also becoming more useful for non-traditional athletes. Here is an article on how a blind runner is using one to allow him to workout without a guide runner.
This is just one aspect of how technology can be used to actually get our butts off the couch and out into the world. I guess it’s not the technology that is to blame but how we choose to use it. What positive ways have you found to use technology to help you get out or improve your overall health and fitness?
See also: Getting Techie Outdoors
As part of National Bike Month, Enomondo is working with the League of American Bicyclists to track bike mileage through their app. They are offering prizes throughout the program. Might be worth a try.