Republish this article
1st August 2016

The future of fitness? It’s already here

Wearable technologies are packed with sensors that monitor your well-being, correct your posture and offer health tips in real time

It’s summer time. The evenings are long, the weather is (mostly) good and you are counting down to vacation. There’s no excuse for staying indoors watching TV and anyway, a little extra exercise might be in order if you plan on looking your best on the beach.

Forget about New Year Resolutions made in the depths of a dark January night, August is the time to throw yourself into a fitness regime.

Fortunately, there are a host of new gadgets to make exercising more fun – and more productive.

Tech you can wear

For starters, the smartwatch – your smartphone’s wrist-wrapping cousin – allows you to monitor your heart rate, count your steps and your calories, and record sleep patterns. But that’s just the beginning.

The new generation of wearables can access your medical record, diet and training log before offering you personalised shopping advice in real time when you walk into the supermarket.

And it’s not just fitness-savvy wristbands. Smart shoes and biometric shirts can tell if you need to straighten your posture or take on more fluids to stave off dehydration; sensor-enabled bandages can track your blood sugar.

Fitness feedback

The big trend is for gadgets that give the user feedback that helps them change how they work-out. Some involve adding sensors to clothing but others mean upgrading fitness equipment – like yoga mats and basketballs – to make them more interactive.

Here are just a few of our favourites:

–          This ‘intelligent yoga mat’ that tracks your position and links with an iPad to offer suggestions on how to improve it

–          The basketball with a super-light on-board computer that gives advice on how to score more points. If you need to change the arc of your throw or bend your legs for better lift, this smart ball could help

–          Want to have better posture? Now you can improve while playing video games. Tiny sensors show you an on-screen avatar of your body while you do exercises to perfect your movement.

–          Exercising or not, people with diabetes need to keep tabs on their blood sugar. New technologies combine a tiny needle with a waterproof bandage to provide users with data on glucose levels – all of which is sent to your smartphone.

–          Runners keen to know more about how their foot strikes the road can wear sock with pressure sensors that offer real-time feedback.

–          Similarly, the insoles can be inserted into your shoe to record how the foot moves and also measures speed and distance.

The recurring theme here is the addition of tiny sensor technologies to almost anything you can think of. While the costs of sensors are generally falling, their accuracy is on the rise and the level of feedback on offer is increasingly sophisticated and rapid.

But whether your exercise regime is high-tech, low-tech or no tech, just get out there and make the most of the summer.

This is part three of our Summer of e-Health series where we showcase how medtech helps you take care of yourself and be ready to enjoy your Summer holidays to the fullest. Click here to read part one and here to read part two.