The M Effect
It has been a while since I last discussed The M Effect and, in particular, positive changes that we can make to improve our health in both the short and long term. Despite there being a far greater awareness of poor nutrition and the need to exercise, obesity and the incidence of lifestyle diseases continues to escalate in first world countries. A report published by the World Health Organisation, estimates that lifestyle diseases are responsible for over sixty percent of global deaths.
Heart disease and type 2 diabetes have become the biggest killers in first world countries. According to the American Heart Association, almost 800 thousand people die annually (one in three deaths) in the USA alone, from cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the American Diabetes Association’s National Fact Sheet reveals that 26 million Americans have diabetes. This is a staggering 8.3 percent of the population and there are an additional two million people being diagnosed with Diabetes each year.
The M Effect is continually exploring ways of improving both health and fitness and particularly, in a world that is becoming increasingly inactive.
As technology increasingly dominates everyday life, our activity levels diminish on an ever expanding scale and our lives become more and more sedentary. A specific example of this occurred in my life recently and it made me realise just how big a problem the ‘sedentary lifestyle’ has become. I have always enjoyed swimming and am fortunate enough to have a pool at my house. It has been a tradition within the family to maintain it and we all get varying degrees of exercise from the different cleaning activities involved. This family ritual was almost broken recently, when a neighbour invited me to look at his new robotic pool cleaner. It does away with ever having to manually vacuum, scour or skim our pool again!! Fortunately, I resisted the temptation to buy one and we continue to do our own manual maintenance. This made me realise that it is vital to be active and to consciously increase our daily mobility.
Health and Fitness Technology
Advancing technology does not necessarily have to be our enemy and when it comes to health and fitness, we can use it to great advantage. For me, one of the most useful ways of exploiting modern technology is through mobile phone health and fitness apps. There are numerous apps to choose from and they have a wide variety of functions and uses.
Mobility and Mobile Phone Apps
The M Effect has added two more components to the positive influences in the war against a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. The first is ‘mobility’ and refers to an active increase in our routine activity. This will be the subject of next week’s article. The second is ‘Mobile Phone Apps’ and will be covered today.
Health and Fitness App Categories
Health and fitness has become one of the fastest growing categories within the smartphone app arena. Whether you want a bit of motivation, to track your workout, count calories or find an exercise routine, you will be able to download a suitable app to fulfil your needs. The main categories of health and fitness app are:
1. GPS fitness trackers – These apps are designed to record key exercise information such as routes travelled, energy used, performance analysis, workout comparisons and interaction with other users. Common features include GPS mapping, measuring distance travelled, time, speed, heart rate, altitude, progress reports and calories burned. Fitness trackers can be relatively specialised such as Runtastic and Strava, which are predominantly used by runners and cyclists, or diverse across a wide range of sports, as is the case with the Endomondo app.
2. Calorie counter Apps – Weight loss essentially involves calorie deficits but manually keeping track of this can be extremely challenging. The principle reason being the difficulty in finding calorific values for a wide variety of foodstuffs or, individual ingredients. The advent of the smartphone and the introduction of calorie counting apps have made the task a whole lot easier. Common features of these invaluable apps include food databases, weight trackers, barcode scanners and recipe counters. Three of the most popular choices are Calorie Counter by Fat Secret, Lose It! and MyFitnessPal.
3. Workout Inspiration Apps – Maintaining a long term health and fitness routine is often hindered by a loss of motivation. This has provided a fast growing market for workout inspiration apps, that have been primarily developed to add variety to workouts and to make them more fun. Often, these apps have games, missions or simulations to help bring excitement into fitness or can be packed with video clips, photos and motivational quotes. Trendy choices include Fitocracy, Zombies Run!, and Obstacles XRT.
4. Gym Trainer Apps – If you are looking to workout but do not know where to start, or you are looking to change your current routine, there are a number of suitable apps that deliver a vast array of exercise. You can also download information on how to do an exercise correctly and with proper form. Gorilla Workout, iFitness, Daily Yoga(All-in-One) and Gym Hero are some of the many choices you have in this category.
5. Diet Apps – Weight loss has become a whole lot easier with smartphone apps, specifically geared towards diet and nutrition. Diet apps include meal plans, nutrition tips and daily tracking of your progress to help you reach your weight loss goals. My personal choice in this category is Lose It!, as it is very comprehensive and includes an extremely useful daily calorie budget. Other excellent alternatives are Nutrino, The Eatery and Weight Watchers Mobile.
The M Effect – Mobility
In recent months I have become progressively more desk-bound and this has made me realise just how important being actively mobile is. This will be the feature of next week’s post (click HERE to view).