stickman crossing road

Useless Modern Tech: Fitness Trackers

In this modern age there are many technological advancements that are genuinely useful; hard disk recording for example (like Sky+) or renewing your tax disc online rather than that soul destroying and often futile trip to the post office.

Then there are the technological ‘advancements’ that are altogether less useful…like fitness trackers.

Useful or Useless?

Self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci had a useful task in mind for his pedometer.
Fitness trackers are essentially pedometers and pedometers can be useful.

In the 15th century Leonardo Da Vinci (left) envisaged the concept of pedometers for the purpose of measuring the steps taken by soldiers and in 1674 Robert Hooke created a mechanical pedometer to help map makers.

In more recent times pedometers have filled the role of low cost novelty gadget and could be ordered off the back of cereal boxes for free a few years back. The novelty of these was short lived though with not many making it to their first battery change ending up instead at the back of the kitchen draw where they probably remain to this day.

Social Fitness

But pedometers are back looking stylish and minimal and calling themselves fitness trackers. They’ve evolved as well, now you can connect them to the web and broadcast to the world how many steps you’ve taken. What’s more you can enter into mini league competitions with other people who’ve got too much free time on their hands.

In addition to counting steps they can also tell you how long you’ve been asleep. Without a fitness tracker this would need to be achieved by looking at a clock when you go to bed then looking at it again when you wake up, now you’re saved the bother and can share this statistic with your mates as well.

Credit Where Credit’s Due

To be fair though research is showing that pedometers do engage people and encourage them into physical activity so maybe they’re not all bad (they are); but if you can’t afford one, don’t worry, you’re probably going to be able to manage without.

They’re Behind You

Zombies Run logo.
Run Forest, run.
For a cheaper (free for the basic version) and more enjoyable alternative to a fitness tracker you could try the iOS/Android App “Zombies, Run!” an interactive audio adventure to liven up your daily run (or walk, it works for walking too).

Amongst other motivations to run this app plays the sound of zombies chasing you, run too slow and they’ll catch you, and you don’t want to be caught.

It’s good fun but please don’t take it too seriously, no one wants to see you body checking elderly pedestrians and children as you charge through your local park in an oxygen starved zombie induced panic.

“Zombies, Run!” is available for iOS or Android:

Get it on Google Play

But, if Zombies are too scary for you and the failure of your health is not motivation enough (and you have a spare plug socket for another charger) then a fitness tracker maybe just what you’re looking for.

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