Living Online with an Offline body


Posted by in November's Magazine

If you want to feel old, think about the time before the internet. Even further back, remember a time without mobile phones. Think about your first mobile phone. In the grand scheme of things it probably wasn’t that long ago. Mine looked like a brick with an extending antenna. That was twenty years ago. If you’re a youngster you might remember Facebook was ‘a thing’. That was really only a decade ago.

So now I’ve made you feel old, consider how much time you’ve spent online or on a computer today. I’m guessing it’s a lot more than it was ten years ago. And you were probably sitting down. There is a reason why this is important.

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It describes the modern obesity epidemic. Simply, we sit more (and eat more). Sitting may feel very comfortable, quite rightly, slouching on a chair or sofa is not what our bodies are designed for. We’re designed to move.

Technology has come full circle. We now have wearable technology to make us move more. Fitbits are the latest trend and the tech is getting fancier. It can also measure our sleep to make sure we’re resting enough (in between being online). Technology has made us sit down and now it is making us stand up – for example standing desks are de rigueur in modern offices.

The future of fitness has fascinated me since I started my Personal Training business back in 2005. Back then, there were no smartphones with GPS to track runs, online food diaries were in their infancy and unwieldy and social media was only a Californian dream. We were still all blissfully living in the real world. However, technology is here and it’s here to stay. So we may as well make the best of it.

I have seen a difference in exerciser’s attitudes to their runs in the last decade. Now you can track all of your runs/rides and see how fast you are compared to anyone else on that route. Strava leaderboards boast PB’s (personal bests) and set a precedent. A little voice from your phone can even tell you if you need to hurry up to maintain your ‘race pace’. Innovation indeed.

An innovation that I do find useful is heart rate training technology. A heart rate monitor is a device that measures your heart rate and encourages you to move at the right pace for you. The old-fashioned chest straps are still the most accurate way to measure your heart rate, however many smart watches come with infrared technology that takes your pulse from your wrist (less accurate than the chest strap). The fitter you get the lower your heart rate is so the faster you need to go to get to your training heart rate range. This is how to get fitter and ultimately faster.

I personally use tech to focus on the individual, as that is where you’ll see the best fitness gains. An online food diary nowadays is much more sophisticated than it used to be. You can use an app on your phone to scan barcodes of what you eat and easily get a macronutrient breakdown (carbs, fat, protein), information that was never readily available before. Theoretically it can help you make wiser food decisions and take nutrition into your own hands.

Wearable technology will move on to more accurately monitor your vital statistics. Think of the coup for health insurance companies if they had access to your fitbit statistics it’s a bit like a car insurer installing cameras in cars to monitor driver safety. The NHS could also use wearable tech to monitor the health of its outpatients in fact motion sensors attached to the body are already used by maverick physiotherapists to ensure patients are doing their rehabilitation exercises correctly.

Personally I see blood sugar monitoring becoming big business. With diabetes on the rise it seems like a logical progression. Large food manufacturers will be up in arms as it becomes apparent that ready-made (read profitable) food screws with blood sugar levels

I think there will also be a trend for ‘offline living’ where you deliberately disconnect from your device for a period of time. Technology retreats might become big business. We like holidaying in the Highlands due to the lack of phone and internet connection. Bliss!

Ironically I first heard of ‘forest bathing’ on the internet and, appropriately enough, I quote Wikipedia: ‘Forest bathing is the practice of taking a short, leisurely visit to a forest for health benefits. The practice originated in Japan where it is called shinrin-yoku or 萰釱敼’. I can see it being big in the UK where stress levels are on the rise. Wearable technology will tell you that your heart rate and blood pressure drop as a sense of calm engulfs the body.

And that’s what we’ll be seeking. Whilst the world goes to hell in a handcart, becoming increasingly dysfunctional, we’ll be looking at ways to control our immediate environment. Log off and take a deep breath while you still can… ν

Twitter: @tracygriffen

Info: www.getfitandenjoyit.com

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