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As 2019 gets under way, many of us will be turning our thoughts to living more healthily, exercising more regularly, or working more efficiently. Given the ubiquity of technology in our daily lives, it’s no surprise that we no longer have to rely on simple willpower to achieve these goals.
Justina Triasovaite, a London-based personal trainer, says: “Smart homes, smart cars, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are all changing how we go about our daily lives, and fitness – and the health industry in general – is being disrupted too. With the help of technology, we can exercise in smarter ways, as well as track our results much more accurately.”
Smart wearables have come a long way since the original pedometers, which now look positively old-school. But when it comes to choosing the right device, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. For runners, pinpoint GPS accuracy is useful, as well as continuous heartrate tracking and voice coaching. If you’re heading off-road, devices that have altimeters, barometers, compasses and even thermometers will help to keep you on track.
“If you want to avoid the sporty look at work but still track your performance and daily activities, there are good alternatives out there,” Triasovaite says. “The Xenxo smart ring is due to be released early this year and has an integrated activity tracking system, a microphone, a speaker, Google assistant, Siri, silent alarm, data storage and more.”
For swimmers, waterproof wearables are a must. Triasovaite recommends Sony’s SwimAR, a heads-up display that attaches to your goggles. “It uses holographic display technology, allowing swimmers to view a host of metrics in real time, including overall time, split time for the last lap covered and number of laps. There’s also rumours of a GPS version, possibly released early next year,” she says.
If you’re serious about fitness, recovery is as important as the workout itself. “Overtraining and overtiredness are very common, especially if people are juggling office work, business trips and intensive personal training sessions,” Triasovaite says. “One good way to recover quickly is by using compression stockings, which boost circulation, helping to speed up recovery. Some products use compressed air to massage your limbs and mobilise fluid, which feels amazing – like a sports massage.”
Overtraining and overtiredness are very common, especially if people are juggling office work, business trips and intensive personal training sessions
A less enjoyable – but equally effective – bit of kit is the Hypervolt vibration massage device, which uses a strong (and painful) percussive force on the muscle that creates an intense blood flow. “This helps muscles recover without the pain normally associated with deep muscle treatment,” Triasovaite says. “It has other benefits including increased mobility, stretching of the muscle and the removal of muscle knots and cramps.”
Even more crucial to recovery is a good night’s sleep. Sensor-based mattresses that offer varying heat zones and wake you in the lightest phase of sleep can help you start the day refreshed, while smart lights can be programmed to mimic sunrise and sunset, signalling to your brain that it’s time to wind down or rise and shine. And if you find it as hard to switch off your brain as you do your phone, sleep and mindfulness apps will lull you into relaxation at the end of the day.
Numerous studies have shown that physical activity can help your brain stay sharp, improving memory as well as learning ability. And there’s technology available that promises to make you even smarter, says Triasovaite. “Halo Sport headphones are designed to make your training sessions even more productive by improving your brain’s neuroplasticity,” she explains. “The device applies a mild electric field to the motor cortex while you train, which is claimed to decrease the amount of input required for neurons to fire, enabling more rapid strengthening of connections in the brain and increasing speed of learning and movement efficiency.”
Back at the office, technology can help you to become more productive, focus for longer and work smarter. A team of neuroscientists and musicians at Brain.fm have developed an AI engine that composes music designed for the brain to enhance focus and attention while limiting distraction and mind-wandering. The company also produces tracks that aid relaxation, meditation and sleep.
“Technology has the potential to influence every aspect of our lives,” Triasovaite says. “Although at the end of the day it is up to the individual how much you want to let it into your life.”
Either way – whether you embrace disruptive tech in all its forms or prefer to keep it simple with a pair of trainers and a bottle of water – the advance of technology is making it harder than ever to come up with excuses for sliding back to our old ways.
About Justina Triasovaite
Justina is a certified female personal trainer in London and also runs justinatraining.com, a site with useful information for those interested in general fitness and body transformation.