Today technology is an inevitable part of our lives. It plays an important role in everything (well almost) we do or experience every day. From the time we get out of our beds to turning back in after a long hard day, it follows us everywhere; workplaces, meetings, restaurants, cinema, shopping malls, social hangouts and everywhere else. Since it has impacted all spheres of our daily routines in such a big way, how could field of health and fitness remain oblivious to its presence?
It’s not an exaggeration to say that technology has revolutionised the way we envision and undertake fitness programs these days.
From tracking your steps and counting calories through one of your smartphone apps, monitoring your heartbeat on your smart watch (Apple Watch and Fitbit,) signing up for a virtual yoga class on your laptop, a quick HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) video on YouTube; technology has you covered.
And why not! If technology can help propagate awareness about the benefits of good health and bring more people into the realm of working out, we should only be grateful. After all, exercise and fitness are still not a priority for most. Take virtual fitness apps and platforms like YouTube for example; if you don’t have the time to hit the gym, or are simply not comfortable working out in a social environment, have a transportation issues, or small kids at home, you can still workout with virtual fitness trainers guiding you along the way. If you can connect to the internet, you can connect to the endless world of fitness apps, classes, and programs from around the world on your gadget.
But is it this simple? Do such apps and live streaming videos really help make people fit and strong, both physically and mentally? Are there any pitfalls? Let us first take a look at some of their advantages and disadvantages (yes, there are disadvantages too):
There is no need to travel or buy fancy equipment to have a great workout. Just pick your time, day or night, and tune in. Research suggests that people who attend virtual fitness classes from their homes are more likely to stick to the program simply due to the convenience factor.
With an internet connection and worldwide web, you have an indefinite choice of which fitness genre or program to choose. Need relaxation? Choose Yoga or meditation. Need to build strength? Choose weight training. Need to build stamina? Pick aerobics or dance. Literally, the choices are limited only by your imagination.
Most fitness apps and membership platforms are competitively priced. Some of them are even free to join. That makes them accessible to even to those people who cannot afford high costs of fitness training.
Problem of plenty or information overdose
With thousands of existing apps and videos and new ones being added every day, it is easy to get confused and overwhelmed. You may end up wasting a lot of time finding the right program for you.
Most of the content on fitness apps and YouTube is not vetted. Anyone can make instructional videos and post them with absolutely no guarantee of how it will impact the lives of the people following it.
Lack of direct interaction with the trainer
When you are following a YouTube video, there is no one to stop you if you are doing it incorrectly and are at a risk of injuring yourself. For example, practicing high-intensity workouts or Yoga asana without someone observing your form can be a recipe for disaster.
Now, let us examine some of the other tools that technology has provided us with a promise of fitness and good health:
These are small devices that can be comfortably worn on our body to track our fitness goals. Gadgets like Apple Watch and Fitbit scan, sense, and track our workouts and other physical activities like walking and running. They then provide you with data along with an analysis and feedback.
Pros of Wearables
- They provide useful real-time data about your pace, distance, heart rate, calories burnt. Which helps in analysing your performance over a period of time.
- They give you details about your general health and wellbeing. For example, they can detect how many hours of quality sleep are you getting every day, every week, or every month.
- They are small gadgets that do not hamper your daily activities in any way.
Cons of Wearables
- Constant monitoring of your performance and data can make you compulsive and restless.
- Such data invariably leads to comparison with others and can make you bitter, push you to work harder than you should, and take away the fun aspect from your workouts and activities.
Virtual Training Apps
There are several mobile apps and live streaming YouTube channels that provide virtual training where you can train with a virtual trainer wherever and whenever you want.
Pros of Virtual Training Apps
- They are affordable. While not many can afford a real personal trainer, the availability of virtual apps has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to work out with a virtual trainer that specifically caters to their requirements.
- There are no constraints of time or location.
Cons of Virtual Training Apps
- They undermine the importance of right form and technique in a workout. Because a virtual trainer cannot observe you and your movements, you may develop a wrong technique or worse, injure yourself.
- If the app or program is not reputable, there is a chance that the techniques and instructions being given will be inaccurate.
While we may be for or against the use of technology when it comes to keeping ourselves fit and healthy, one thing is certain: its influence on our lives and how we perceive fitness is only going to increase with time. The trick to getting the most from these tools of technology is to align them realistically to our own goals and objectives of a healthy life.