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Updated 14 February 2013

7 ways technology is good for your health

Every day we hear people telling us how bad technology is for our health, but that’s just one side of the coin.

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Every day we hear people telling us how bad technology is for our health, but that’s just one side of the coin. If enjoyed in moderation, technology can help to boost your wellbeing – here’s how.

Fitness apps

They can call, text, take pictures, surf the internet, and now they can keep us healthy – what can’t our phones do? Health and fitness apps have opened up a whole avenue of training for fitness fanatics, and we couldn’t be happier. Pretty much everything you do that involves fitness can be enhanced by an app. Want to know how far you walk to work? Use a pedometer app. How many calories you’ve consumed in a day? Download a calorie tracker. What stretches you need to do before a run? Check them out on a fitness video app. The possibilities really are endless when it comes to apps, and they’ll only get better as more are released.

Food logging

Food diaries have been a popular diet method for years, and now technology has made them better than ever. Now there are websites and apps that will let you record every meal you have, whilst giving you calorie totals and energy requirements for the day, allowing you to accurately track how much you are eating. Don’t think they are effective? A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics investigated the effectiveness of keeping a food log, and found that people who kept one lost 2.8kg (6lbs.) more than people who tried to follow the diet without recording it.  

Training gadgets

No doubt you’ve already got all the clothing you need for exercising, but have you considered how gadgets could give you a helping hand? There is a huge range of gadgets out there to help you stay healthy. If you’re taking part in any sort of cardiovascular activity then you owe it to yourself to pick up a heart rate monitor. This will allow you to maximise your training efficiency by working in certain percentage zones of your maximum heart rate. For the best display of technological efficiency, you can use a GPS unit to track your running via satellite, giving you accurate read outs of speed, pace, and distance covered.

Online health boosts

Surfing the internet can often seem like a mindless task, but you’ll be happy to hear that all those clicks could be adding up to health boosts. According to research carried out at the University of California Los Angeles, browsing the web brings with it a veritable treasure trove of brain-based benefits. The study showed that middle-aged people enjoy an improvement in brain health after going online, with some even displaying signs that the effects of ageing on the brain were reduced. Social media sites like Facebook could also give you a health boost, with a survey by Fitbit finding that being ‘tagged’ in unattractive photos is now the number one cause for people deciding to lose weight.

Share your story

Training and losing weight is tough at the best of times, never mind when you have to face it on your own. However, even if your friends and family are sick to death of hearing about your progress, you’ll always find someone online who can offer support and advice. Start an online training blog and you’ll be able to track your progress, speak to other fitness fanatics, and pick up motivation from other people’s blogs. Taking a planned and documented approach to weight loss and fitness has been proven to be effective by a Kaiser Permanente study, which showed that people who recorded their progress online or in a diary lost 6kg (13 lbs.) more over a six month period than people who didn’t.

Brain development

Do you feel guilty for wasting away hours sat in front of your TV playing video games? It might not be quite as bad as you think. Although it’s not exactly the most productive of activities, it’s been found that playing games can have some serious health benefits. Researchers at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque found that the mental workout achieved by playing Tetris helps gamers to develop a thicker cerebral cortex when compared to people who haven’t played. Similarly, a study at the University of Rochester discovered links between playing first-person shooter games and improved decision-making and reaction times. 

Keeping you connected

If you’ve ever been stuck at home without access to a gym or personal trainer, you’ll know how much this feeling of isolation can damage your fitness efforts. Luckily, technology has you covered. Northwestern University carried out a study that investigated the effects of speaking to a health professional through the use of technology. It found that participants who were able to speak to a trainer through phone, email and video messaging, on average made healthier lifestyle choices than those who were left to their own devices. This phenomenon, known as ‘remote coaching’, means you can now enjoy some of the benefits of a session with a personal trainer without having to leave your house.

  (Realbuzz.com, December, 2012)

(Picture: Man with tablet from Shutterstock)

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