Must-Have Tech Tools to Get Fit and Stay Fit

Technology to help you achieve your fitness goals

If you’re one of the many people who have resolved to get fit in 2013, a 2007 UK study suggests there are ways to improve your chances of success, and technology can help.

British professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire studies what he calls “Quirkology” or, “the quirky side of human behavior.”  In 2007, his team tracked over 3,000 people who had resolved to achieve a range of resolutions and found that while only 12 percent actually achieved their goal, several factors improved participants’chances of success. 

Not surprisingly, the Quirkology study found that men and women are wired differently when it comes to sticking to a resolution. While your goal may be lofty, such as lose 30 pounds or participate in a triathlon, Wiseman’s study found it’s better to focus on creating goals that are “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based (SMART).”

An extra 22 percent of male study participants kept their resolution when they set small, achievable goals. The male study participants also achieved a higher rate of success when they focused on rewards associated with achieving their goals.

For goal-minded individuals, Fitocracy seems custom-made to help you keep your resolution to get fit. Designed to treat getting fit like a video game, you earn points for every activity you log. Points are based on level of difficulty and as you fill your progress bar you can “level up”. This allows you to easily translate your larger objective into smaller, achievable steps that you can visually track. You can even elect to participate in quests – optional goals that let you earn bonus points. If you’re so inclined, you can also compete with others in the Fitocracy community, and get support or guidance from fitness experts and others that have faced similar challenges.

According to Wiseman’s resolution study, women were 10 percent more likely to stick to their resolution when they gained social support of their goals. While many women may be inclined to stay mum about resolutions, likely for fear of embarrassment should they fail, social accountability can offer much-needed support to keep going.

Use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to your advantage by committing to your goals and reporting on your success. If you’re concerned that your friends will be anything less that motivational or supportive, consider joining MyFitnessPal, a free community of people helping each other reach their fitness and health goals. While the site offers online food and exercise journals, its strength is in its community blogs and message boards. Make your diet and fitness logs public to hold yourself accountable and improve your chances of sticking to your goal.

SparkPeople is another wonderful free resource for folks looking for a social support network. Explore the Community tab for groups created by members based on goals and interests, discussion forums, challenges and “SparkPages” - a member profile area where you can connect with like-minded users.

Finally, FitBit (FitBit Zip starting at $59.95), is a tiny wireless motion tracker that, when worn consistently, translates your motion into a fitness score. Your activity is monitored, factoring in exertion (not just distance), and then wirelessly syncs collected data with your computer or smart phone. Graphs allow you to quickly see progress toward your goal. Your up-to-the-minute score is also viewable on the device itself, motivating you to take the stairs, park farther from the entrance, or log a quick jog on the treadmill to keep up your stats. The FitBit allows you to easily set achievable goals such as, “score higher on average this week than last week,” and you can even compete with other FitBit users or post your scores for additional encouragement from the FitBit community.  

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