Which fitness tracker is right for you? [Quiz]

Image courtesy of designmilk.

Image courtesy of designmilk.

There are so many fitness trackers out there now, how do you know which one to pick? While that’s really up to you, this #FitnessFriday Crunch Theory is releasing is an inforgraphic-quiz to help you pick one that meets your needs — and doesn’t break the bank.

The trackers featured are from established companies – Fitibt, Misfit, Jawbone, Basis, and Garmin – and vary in functionality and price.

FitnessWearable (1)

What did you get? Is it accurate? Let us know in the comments below.

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Tips To Stay Fit At Any Age [Infographic]

Image courtesy of USAG- Humphreys.

Image courtesy of USAG- Humphreys.

Did you know that childhood obesity spikes in the summer months. Without recess or P.E., some children will stay put instead of getting the exercise their bodies and minds need. And as we get older, we still need activity, but the best types for us may change.

With that in mind, Bankers Healthcare Group, a company that offers financial solutions for healthcare professionals, decided to informally poll the health and fitness blogosphere to see what advice the community had for keeping fit at any age.

As part of its initiative to get people moving, they compiled the responses into one handy (and good looking) infographic with some interesting information. For example, it breaks down types of suggested activities by age range, as well as the benefits of each.

See the infographic below or visit the Bankers Healthcare Group’s blog post to learn more.

Image courtesy of Banker's Healthcare Group.

Women’s Health Week: One Inspiring Organization and 5 Tips To Make Your Well-Being A Priority

Image courtesy of Heather Dowd.

Image courtesy of Heather Dowd.

Happy Women’s Health Week! I think everyone would say that health is a priority, but sometimes it can slip on your to-do list, especially you have 10 million other things going on. Women’s Health Week, which is celebrated May 10 – 16, is the perfect opportunity to make your well-being a priority again.

One key way to keep physically and mentally fit is to exercise, but women are half as likely to have exercised throughout their lives compared to men, according to a March survey. The results are a little depressing, so this Fitness Friday, we are profiling the organization This Girl Can, which wants to empower women of all ages, shapes, and sizes to get and stay active.

This Girl Can is based out of the U.K. wants women to realize that fear of judgement is not a reason avoid exercise. The organization’s social media channels provides encouragement for women across the globe who breaking a sweat.

The website itself features stories of women and their exercise of choice. And if you need to find your new favorite type of workout, This Girl Can has an A to Z guide that has details about different sports, how much they cost, what equipment they need, and why it’s good for you.

Want to make whole-body fitness a priority? Here are 5 tips.

  1. Meditate daily. It can only be 5 or 10 minutes, but it’s worth it. Meditating gives you the time, focus, and energy to get everything done on in your day. If you have to, get an app to remind you and stick to it. Learn more about meditation here.
  2. Find a workout you enjoy. I don’t care if you’ve been told crossfit/cycling/hot yoga/etc is the new, hottest, best workout. If you don’t like it, try something else. There are plenty of different types of exercise and don’t give up until you find one that works for you. After all, if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to stick with it. (Bonus points if you have a workout buddy.)
  3. See your doctor annually. It’s so easy to prioritize everyone’s health above your own, but taking the time to take care of yourself pays off in the long run. If absolutely have no time, consider using an e-service like Maven.
  4. Audit your eating. You don’t have to count every single calorie that goes down your throat, but you should take an audit every once in a while to make sure you’re on track. Use an app or look at the USDA’s recommended food plate, and see how close you’re coming to the guidelines. If you’re way off, think about ways to incorporate healthier foods into your day or consider a delivery service.
  5. Have fun! It’s 100% necessary to relax, indulge, laugh, and play. Have a cheat day, skip some chores, go on an adventure. If you try to live completely health-conscious 24/7, chances are it’ll end up stressing you out. Everyone needs a break sometimes; give yourself permission to let loose and have some fun every now and then.

What’s your favorite way to get and stay fit? Have another tip? Let us know in the comments.

Researchers Created A Treadmill That Sucks Less

The new treadmill changes pace automatically. Image courtesy of Military Health.

The new treadmill changes pace automatically. Image courtesy of MilitaryHealth.

Let’s face it – running on treadmill sucks. You’re in one place, looking at the same things, and, well, it’s just not the same as running outdoors. But researchers from Ohio State have created a treadmill that sucks a little bit less – it changes pace with you.

This may not seem like much, but the new treadmill is designed to match how we naturally run. When you’re outdoors or on a track, you can change pace without even thinking about it, but if you do so on a treadmill, you find yourself hitting the top or close to the edge. Not anymore.

The automated treadmill uses sonar to tell where you are on the belt and adjusts automatically. If you pick up speed and get closer to the front, it speeds up with you, and if you slow down, it does to.

My only question is – why did nobody do this sooner?

“If you’re running outside and you want to speed up or slow down, there is no button to push. It is the same with this new automated treadmill,” Steven T. Devor, associate professor of kinesiology at OSU and one of the treadmill’s developers, said in a press release.“It is seamless and feels completely natural. You just go.”

The treadmill is now a final prototype and in the process of being patented. Devon said it should be ready for commercialization soon.

Related Reading
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A Deodorant That Makes You Smell Better The More You Sweat

What if you could smell better the more sweat? | Image courtesy of Dustin Gaffke.

What if you could smell better the more sweat? | Image courtesy of Dustin Gaffke.

There’s good news for those of you who want to take a lunch-break run but don’t want to stink up the office afterwards. Researchers have created a deodorant that makes you smell better the more you sweat, which makes it the perfect topic for this week’s #FitnessFriday.

Scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland, have developed a deodorant that releases its aroma when it comes into contact with moisture, like sweat. Basically, the more you sweat, the nicer, you’ll smell.

The researchers created this so-called ‘perfume system’ by tacking a pleasant fragrance onto an ionic liquid (salt in the form of liquid), which has no smell. The ‘perfumed ionic liquid’ releases its aroma when it comes into contact with water, allowing more of the perfume’s scent to be released onto a person’s skin.

The deodorant also has the ability to, well, deodorize. It can remove the unpleasant odors that come from sweat because the compounds that are responsible for sweat’s stank are attracted to the ionic liquid. When the stinky compounds attach themselves to the deodorant, they lose their potency.

Needless to say, the researchers saw the potential for their invention to sell, and they are already working with a perfume development company to come up with product ideas that could eventually be sold commercially. If you’re feeling brave, you can read the journal article, called Pro-fragrent ionic liquids with stable hemiacetal motifs: Water-triggered release of fragrances, here.

Related Reading
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A Fitness Plan Based On Your Genes
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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

3 Apps That Train Your Brain

Memorado is one of many brain training apps. Image courtesy of Memorando.

Memorado is one of many brain training apps. Image courtesy of Memorando.

This #FitnessFriday, I’ll be delving into three apps that train one of your most important organs, the brain.

Image courtesy of Lumosity.

Image courtesy of Lumosity.

#1 Lumosity is the brain-training software you’re probably most familiar with. Its games are accessible from multiple devices, and they are fun, albeit a bit repetitive. Luminosity also tracks your progress as you improve things like memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving. It has a limited free version, and subscriptions range from $3.75/month to $11.95/month based on the amount of time you sign up for.

Screenshot of Elevate on the iTunes App store.

Screenshot of Elevate on the iTunes App store.

#2 Elevate was named as Apple’s 2014 App of the Year and for good reason. The current version has 5 stars and lots of happy customers. Like Luminosity, it’s personalized brain training with categories for things like focus, brevity, and memory. Unlike Luminosity, you can pick the skills you want to improve for your personalized training program. The app is downloadable on the App store and has a pro version if you want to spend an extra around $5. It also has in-app purchases.

Image courtesy of Memorando.

Image courtesy of Memorando.

#3 Newcomer Memoranda just raised $3.3 million Series A funding. Although is it a newcomer, since the Russian-based start-up is already kicking butt and taking names in other parts of the world? Like the others, it tracks and helps you improve various categories, including memory, logic, reaction, and speed. The games are fun, but, again, you can only play a limited number of games and see a limited number of stats without the premium version. A subscription costs anywhere from $5.36/month to $20.40/month depending on the length of time you choose to purchase for.

Related Reading
Gyroscope Is The Creepiest Tracker Yet
Zwift Takes Cycling To The Next Level
Should You Have To Be 21 To By Cigarettes?

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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

Gyroscope Is The Creepiest Tracker Yet… But I Still Want To Join

 Screen shot of Gyroscope, a new website that combines your data to provide a complete picture of you.

Screenshot of Gyroscope, a new website that combines your data to provide a complete picture of you.

Gyroscope would be House of Cards’ Rachel’s worst nightmare – the website tracks all your data and shares it publicly on the Internet. Learn more for this week’s #FitnessFriday.

Gyroscope is not a wearable or an app, but it uses information from your wearables and other smartphone applications to give yourself, and the rest of the Internet if you so choose, a complete picture of you. It reveals where you are now, what you’ve been doing, as well as your health and life stats from your devices.

Founder and CEO Anand Sharma started the concept as a personal project under the domain April Zero. It is a site he created to learn more about himself and make himself a healthier and happier human (sound familiar Reebok?).

The thing is, he made the data public. As I’m writing this, he is at his home, which is located at latitude 37.77793 and longitude -122.432433. I can see that he’s visited cafes six times thus far during the month of March, and I can also view the names of the cafes and the exact days and times he was there. I can see that on Sunday, March 1, he woke up in the wee hours of the morning for a day-long ski trip.

Is it too much public information? While I may think so, many do not. After launching a new version of April Zero, Sharma got so much interest from people wanting their own sites that he decided to make the platform public under the name of Gyroscope.

Gyroscope automatically sets your information to private, probably because Sharma realizes that many people don’t want the whole Internet to know where they are and what they’re doing.  You can still make your information completely public if you so choose.

The website breaks your life into “stories,” so you can see and analyze how you spend your time. It also breaks down your life into three categories:
1. Sport – health and fitness tracking
2. Explorer – adventures around the world
3. Digital – photos and other media

Gyroscope is compatible with many popular apps, including Moves, Instagram, Fitbit, Up, and RunKeeper.

I love the idea of being able to track everything about myself, and, yes, I did sign up to get early access to the site. Right now I don’t think there’s a better designed way to track your patterns, see your progress, and analyze where there’s room for improvement.

But I still have concerns. For instance, personal safety if the data gets hacked and released. I may be paranoid — but am I really?

If you want to give Gyroscope a try, like I do, you’ll have to get in line. The website is currently testing, so you’ll have to sign up for early access to see if the program is as great and/or terrifying as it sounds.

Zwift Takes Cycling To The Next Level

Zwift is a social fitness game that takes indoor cycling to the next level.

Zwift is a social fitness game that takes indoor cycling to the next level.

One reviewer described Zwift as ‘Strava meets World of Warcraft.’ The indoor cycling game/social fitness network is one of the latest programs to join the social fitness market, and it’s been getting great reviews even before it publicly launches. That’s why it’s the focus of this week’s Fitness Friday.

Cycling is becoming a big trend, with some saying the sport is the new golf, but it’s also a relatively isolated activity. That’s about to change thanks to start-up and cycling gaming platform Zwift, who is adding a social component to stationary cycling.

Zwift looks like other racing games – the graphics aren’t great, but they’re manageable once you get into the competition. But unlike other cycling games, you can compete against people from the around the world, pushing your limits.

One reviewer started the game just to make sure his equipment worked and ended up completing a full lap around the virtual track in his jeans because he got sucked into the competitive play.

Like other games, you can also play (erm, I mean work out) with friends or get to know strangers. You can talk as you race or you can focus on the track ahead.

You can’t just grab your bike from the garage and go though; you need some equipment to get yourself ready for the game. You’ll need supported ANT+ devices, and in case you had any doubt that Swift must be a fun company, you should check out the list of items they don’t support on their website.

You also need an Internet connection and computer to run Zwift. You can use your mobile phone to second-screen the experience and get more detailed statistics, but tablets aren’t supported yet.

Zwift is not open to the public, and the company is still beta testing. it is expected to launch globally soon, but in the meantime, you can request an invite to be a beta tester.

Related Reading
Apple Watch’s Fitness Features Unveiled
Prevent Running Injuries With These High-Tech Inserts
High And Low Tech Ways To Stay Healthy At Work

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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

Fitness Friday: Should you have to be 21 to buy cigarettes?

Image courtesy of Fried Dough.

Image courtesy of Fried Dough.

A new study found that raising the minimum legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 25-, 21-, or even 19-years-old may be able to decrease the amount of people who continue smoking later in life.

The authors note that 90% of smokers report using their first cigarette before turning 19, and nearly 100% smoke for the first time before they are 26. This is likely because the parts of the brain responsible for decision making, impulse control, sensation seeking, and responding to peer pressure are still developing through young adulthood, and teenage brains are particularly susceptible to the effects of nicotine.

By pushing back the age at which teenagers and young adults have access to cigarettes, the estimated rate of young people who smoke dramatically decreases. Overall, the authors found that raising the minimum legal age could decrease the initial rates of smoking anywhere from 5% to 30% in people under 25.

The effect is most prominent when the minimum purchasing age is raised to 21. While 21-years-olds associate regularly with those over 25, they are generally not in the same social circles as those who are under 18. (Duh.) Therefore, younger people, whose brains are most susceptible to factors that can lead to them to start smoking, are less likely to encounter cigarettes at all.

Although 249,000 premature deaths in people born between 2000 and 2019 could be avoided by raising the minimum purchasing age to 21, don’t expect the rules to change everywhere soon. The federal government is not allowed to raise the minimum purchasing age over 18, so states and localities would have to be the ones responsible for the changes. Some cities, like New York, have already enacted laws making illegal for someone under 21 to purchase cigarettes.

To read the full study, which was conducted at the request of the FDA, visit report’s website. Read more Fitness Friday stories here.

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Want to stay up-to-date with latest health/tech trends? Follow us to get emails when new posts get published, then follow Crunch Theory on Facebook and Twitter.

Apple Watch’s fitness features unveiled

image

Image courtesy of Apple.

Apple revealed its new Apple Watch at the company’s March 2015 Special Event. With features such as a built-in heart rate monitor and personalized activity suggestions, the watch is much more than just an extension of your phone.

During your day, it displays critical fitness information – calories burned, brisk activity, and how long you’ve stood up. When you’re actively working out, it also provides metrics for popular fitness activities like walking, running, and cycling. It also includes a heart rate sensor, GPS, and  accelerometer to help you make the most of your day’s activity.

What impressed me most about the Apple Watch was its customizable activity suggestions. It uses your history to suggest personalized activity goals and reward milestones.

While the Apple Watch certainly has great fitness features, users will have to rely on third party apps for extended health and wellness functionality. For instance, their release did not mention that sleep or nutrition tracking would come standard, so users will have to get added apps if they want those features.

While other devices, particularly bands that exclusively track fitness, have these capabilities standard, Apple makes up for it with the watch’s seamless integration with iPhones and with expanded non-fitness functionality.

The Apple Watch is pricey compared to its competitors. (Although can you really say competitors when they don’t manufacture devices specifically for complete iPhone integration?) Their sport version goes for $349, the Apple Watch ranges from $549 to $1,099, and their luxury version starts at $10,000.

The Apple Watch will be released April 24, with pre-orders beginning on April 10.

As for whether its the right device for you, as I usually say, that’s a personal decision. If you want the best all around health monitor and aren’t preferential to iPhone integration, you’d probably be better off with a flagship wearable from Misfit, Jawbone, or Fitbit. However, if you want your device to train you for a marathon just as easily  as it unlocks your hotel room, then this may be better option.

Finally, if you’re an Android user like me, there are plenty of new high-end smart watches coming out this year that do just as much and cost less than the Apple Watch. I recommend taking a look at the new Pebble Time while it’s still on pre-sale.