Molly McNamee | Fitness & Technology
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Fitness & Technology

I recently was introduced to a new form of health insurance – tech-based. Oscar Insurance, hioscar.com, has really made health insurance what it should be… helpful. This New York and New Jersey based health insurance company deserves some recognition. This company provides their members with online tools to help track their health between doctor’s visits. They even offer rewards for meeting daily physical goals. Oscar Insurance is doing what I believe should be the future of health insurance. They work online, which is appropriate and necessary for this day and age. They encourage and reward a healthy lifestyle and give you the tools you need to maintain a level of fitness. Some of their online tools include a personal health timeline, health advice from their website’s "Doctor on Call", and they’ve even started giving members a Misfit Flash to help track daily activity. This isn’t some generic health insurance company that only covers part of your doctor bill and then you never hear from them again. Oscar insurance cares.

Oscar Insurance has sparked my interest about other ways technology can assist individuals in their journey to health. If you want more information on Oscar Insurance, visit their website hioscar.com.


iPhone and Android apps

MyFitnessPal - free 

This is the first health app I ever used, and it’s still one of my favorites. This app allows you to log both your exercise and food. The food log is great because it not only shows you your calorie count but the rest of your nutrition information also! So, you can easily track your sodium intake or see how many carbs you’ve consumed each day. This is helpful and eye opening because you may be eating a low-cal diet but find out with this app that your sugar intake is way over your daily limit. Calories are only one part of eating a healthy diet; all the other stuff is just as, if not more, important.

Fooducate - free

This is another fantastic diet app. And I use the word "diet" because it’s the easiest term. I don’t promote dieting – I am a firm believer in eating clean and healthy foods, not depriving yourself like a diet does. Moving on! Fooducate is a food tracker but the cool part about this app is that it breaks down thousands of food products. You can either scan an item at a grocery store, browse through their food categories, or search an item on the search bar and this app will reveal everything you need to know about that item. Want to know the pros and cons of Chobani Greek Yogurt? Well, Fooducate can tell you all of it’s nutritional information, what users think of it, pros and cons, and alternative yogurt you could buy. It’s pretty impressive.

Fast Food Calorie Lookup - free

This app does exactly what it says – it tells you whatever information it has on specific dishes from fast food restaurants. Just search the fast food chain, look at the menu, and check the nutritional information on the different meals. This app will show you whatever it can on a specific fast food item. Of course, most fast food chains don’t make all of the nutritional information available to the public.  But, this app can, at the very least, give you a calorie count. So (even though it’s never true) if fast food is the only thing available to you, you have no excuses – choose the healthier option.

“Personal Trainer” apps - varies

There are lots of apps on iPhone and Android that are called: 30 Day Challenge, Workout Trainer, Fitness At Home… the list goes on and on. Honestly, I’ve never used any of these apps but the concept of them is great – to get you moving. I am a personal trainer, so I personally don’t want to download a virtual personal trainer app. But if you are new to exercise, scared to go the gym, and nervous to talk to a trainer – try these apps. My only words of caution are to make sure you know the correct form of every exercise you are given. Study the exercises on the app before doing them. It’s always better to be too safe - if you do these exercises incorrectly you could injure yourself.

A HIIT Interval Timer - free

This is the timer I use in all of my personal workouts, sessions with clients, and the timer I use during my MFit workouts. You can create your own intervals for circuit training and HIIT routines. It’s simple and easy to use, enough said.

 

Fitness Trackers

Nike+ Fuelband ($99)

This is the first and only band I have worked with. I enjoyed it for a while – it’s great to get you moving. All of these fitness trackers are good for that! Most bands allow you to set a goal for yourself and it’s frustrating to not meet your goal, so you will work hard to get all those steps in! The Fuelband doesn't calculate calories, it has a points system that takes all of your daily activity into account to calculate your daily points. The only problem I had with this band (and I’m sure other bands have similar problems) is that if your arms aren’t moving you don’t get your “points.” And on the flip side if you are doing a lot of movement with your arms, those points are going to go way up. It’s inconsistent but good at encouraging more activity.

Fitbit Charge HR ($149.95)

I have never owned this fitness tracker, but everything I’ve heard about it is excellent! This band will track your steps, calories by day, and sleeping patterns. This band does not have GPS like other fitness trackers, so if you are a serious runner who wants to track distance, this band won’t do that. But, what I think is better about this band compared to others is how it tracks gym work. Most bands aren’t very accurate when it comes to activities other than running and walking. Charge HR will track your heart rate and you can even switch it into stopwatch mode so it knows you are about to workout. Swimmers, this isn’t the right band for you. It is fine to wear in the shower but don’t hop into a pool or bath with it on.

Jawbone UP Move ($49.99)

This tracker is comparable to Fitbit Charge HR, but much more budget friendly.  Again, I haven’t used this band, but it’s one I’m considering trying – so if you have a personal opinion on it, let me know! There are 3 modes to this band – sleep tracking, which is pretty self explanatory. Activity tracking, which tracks your steps, distance walked... the basic stuff. Another mode is stopwatch, which you can switch to when you are about to begin an activity. Switching to this mode allows you to assign what activity you were doing during that time. So, if you like to keep track of how many calories you burn doing a specific activity, this is a really good feature for you!

Garmin Vivosmart ($169.99)

Vivosmart has all the activity tracking as the other bands, but what makes this band unique is its smartwatch skills. It sends you alerts for incoming calls, texts, social media notifications … basically everything a smart phone does. This may seem pointless, but if you like staying connected 24-7 but don’t want to carry a phone or tablet with you to the gym, this is helpful!