What Gadgets Help You Get In Shape?

If you're looking to get in shape, there's no shortage of gadgets you can spend your money on, including a <a href="http://www.smartmoney.com/deal-of-the-day/index.cfm?story=20080813-health-gadgets&pgnum=2">$220 wrist-top computer</a>, a <a href="http://www.smartmoney.com/deal-of-the-day/index.cfm?story=20080813-health-gadgets&pgnum=3">sensor for your shoe</a>, or a <a href="http://www.smartmoney.com/deal-of-the-day/index.cfm?story=20080813-health-gadgets&pgnum=7">Wii Fit</a>.

Mitch Wagner, California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

August 19, 2008

4 Min Read

If you're looking to get in shape, there's no shortage of gadgets you can spend your money on, including a $220 wrist-top computer, a sensor for your shoe, or a Wii Fit."What Gadgets Help You Get In Shape?" our friends at Lifehacker want to know.

Four months ago, I set out on what is, for me, an enormous lifestyle change: I started an exercise routine, and I'm sticking with it. I did it with the aid of two gadgets: A treadmill and an iPhone. I recently added a third gadget to the toolbox: A pedometer.

I use the iPhone several different ways to help me get in shape.

I check e-mail on the iPhone while I'm warming up at a slow walk on the treadmill. I exercise first thing in the morning. I'm based in California, and I usually have a lot of e-mail piled up when I start the day from people from people on the East Coast.

I use the iPhone's built-in timer to keep track of how long I've been exercising.

And of course I listen to music on my iPhone while I work out. I've set up a couple of smart playlists in iTunes to help make sure I always have fresh music to listen to when I exercise, and to easily weed out the surprising number of crappy songs that have filtered into my music collection (could the number of crappy songs have something to do with my buying a Time-Life collection of '70s music CDs four years ago? Perhaps.)

On workdays, I also can use the iPhone to take emergency phone calls. I don't really get any calls that are all that urgent -- it's not like I'm a cardiothoracic surgeon and I need to be ready to rush to the operating room at any moment -- but it gives me peace of mind to know that people can reach me if they absolutely need to. And I have taken a couple of business calls while exercising; ironically enough, one of them was with an Apple PR person who recognized the sound of the iPhone alarm going off.

Indeed, the iPhone has proven extremely helpful in getting me to exercise regularly. I've been meaning to write a blog post with the title, "How The iPhone Is Saving Me From An Early Death," just to enjoy the screaming of the Apple-haters who will accuse me of being a Mac fanboi.

My chief complaint about the iPhone as an exercise device is that the timer is flaky, it often stops almost a minute early. I'm hoping that Monday's upgrade to the iPhone 2.02 firmware fixes the problem.

While I'm listening to music on the iPhone, I'm walking on a Horizon Omega treadmill. I'm not 100% sure that the preceding link goes to the correct model, but it sure looks the same as the one we have in the den. It's nice and simple, does what we need with few unnecessary additional features. I particularly like the built-in cardio meter, which helps me make sure my heart rate is where it should be.

Completing the toolbox: An Omron pedometer. It was a gift from my wife several weeks ago, she's been using one just like it for months.

I read a statistic somewhere that you're supposed to walk 10,000 steps every day. I have no idea where I read that, or whether it's true, but of course I've taken it to heart, and use the pedometer to measure how far I've walked each day. Well, I do it when I remember -- many days I forget to put the pedometer in my pocket in the morning, and that messes up the count for the whole day.

The comments on the Lifehacker post are interesting reading. I particularly liked a comment left by "BarneyRubble," who listed four gadgets: free weights, a Swiss ball, stationary bicycle, and "the ocean." Heh. Similarly, pavementguy lists:

heavy iron for lifting
stationary bike for pedaling
pavement for pounding

Several of the commenters on Lifehacker express disdain for fancy workout gadgets. I'm with them in spirit. Sure, when I exercise, I use a few fancy gadgets. But, still, in the end, my exercise routine is simple: (1) Stand up and (2) Walk.

What gadgets do you use to keep in shape?

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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