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Is Wearable Tech really going to help people lose weight?

Wearable technology like the iWatch, smart watches and other similar devices designed to track how much you are exercising is one of the big new fitness trends of 2015.

However, most of them are basically junk.

And those that are good at what they do, won't actually help you lose weight unless you're willing to put in the effort.

Which is really coming back to the same issue people always have with exercise - sometimes people just don't want to put in the effort.

Take for example the issue of counting calories in a journal.

Counting calories is basically a guaranteed way of losing weight through diet. You reduce your caloric intake and as long as you stick to the limit of how many calories you can consume in a day, and the limit is both sufficient for your dietary needs, but low enough that you will end up burning fat for energy, the end result is you will lose weight. Guaranteed. Even people with glandular disorders can lose weight using the counting calories method.

However counting calories every meal and every snack is time consuming and BORING.

So why not have a device that does it for you?

Well sadly having such a device is just as time consuming as using a pen and a journal. You aren't saving any time using an electronic device to count calories for you. If anything the operating system and the series of buttons to press is actually MORE time consuming as opposed to simply grabbing a pen and writing down "450" in the appropriate space in the journal.

On the exercise side of things smart watches can (sometimes) monitor heart rhythm and can attempt to calculate how many calories you are burning.

However a smart watch doesn't keep track of all of the following factors:

  • How much you weigh.
  • How much extra weight are you carrying.
  • Your speed / intensity while exercising.
  • Whether you have a heart condition which causes abnormally fast or slow heart rhythm.
  • Level of difficulty of the exercise which could effect caloric burn.
  • The Afterburn Effect.
  • Blood sugar levels - if you ate recently before exercising, you might be burning energy which was freshly consumed. Not stored energy in the form of fat.

It really comes down to the same problem devices and apps like these always have: They can never account for all the different factors, which ultimately means that such devices don't actually work as they claim they do. Furthermore when an app reminds you to go jogging/etc, you can always just turn it off - the exercise equivalent of a Snooze Button.

Years ago I experimented with an High Intensity Interval Training app. I later deleted it because I determined it was a pain to work with. You had to program in the number of intervals, how many breaks you wanted, and it was glitchy and annoying. There was no premade programs to choose from, no random HIIT workout. I was better off using an old fashioned stop watch...

Ultimately what I ended up using instead of the HIIT app was music. I would do one exercise until the song was over and the switch to either resting or a different exercise during the next song. The randomness of the music determined both whether it was an intense exercise, a relaxing exercise, or a break to catch my breath and drink some water.

Which begs the question, why bother with a smart watch when all you really need is a mp3 player? Or a record player if you prefer vinyl. Or a smart phone. Or a juke box.

What people really need is motivation. That is the true wrench that fixes the broken gears of exercise. If a person lacks the will to go exercise, no amount of new shoes, electronic gadgets, gym memberships or personal trainers* will matter.

* Ideally a good personal trainer should motivate a person to go exercise regularly - but trying and succeeding are two different things. The personal trainer can try to motivate the person, but if they are feeling unmotivated by other factors in their life the personal trainer is ultimately just another spoke in the gear. It is the other spokes which need to be unjammed in order to get the gears moving and the person exercising.


BONUS

I came across the following list on a website, which dubbed the list "Top 10 fitness trends for 2016". However how can it be 2016 if we are still in 2015? Is this a list of predictions? Or is it based on a survey that happened in 2015? Or is it just a random list create by a fitness writer who is just making up what they THINK will be the trends in 2016? I think it is the last one.

So how much stock should you put in something written by some fitness writer who is making predictions? Not a lot if you analyze the list. See my notes in red.

Top 10 fitness trends during 2015 according to Joe Schmoe

"1. Wearable Technology: includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices. [We've had these before. I gave my sister a device that monitors foot steps 3 years ago for xmas. I am unsure if she ever used it.]


2. Body Weight Training: Body weight training uses minimal equipment making it more affordable.  ["Body Weight Training" has been a trend since the 1800s and likely earlier. It is not a "new trend" at all. It is old school exercises like push ups and chin ups.]

2. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes. [This isn't new. HIIT has been "trending" for over a decade.]


4. Strength Training: Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders. [AKA, weight lifting. Also nothing new. When were dumbbells invented?]


5. Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals: Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose ... bla bla bla. [Just another word for "Certified Personal Trainers" and "Coaches".]


6. Personal Training: More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates they are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields, such as personal training. [Wait. This is exactly the same as #5. Clearly the author had difficulty coming up with a list of 10.]


7. Functional Fitness: This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related. [The elderly have been doing these exercises in senior homes for decades now. Nothing new.]


8. Fitness Programs for Older Adults: As the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active. [Isn't this just the same as #7 but more specifically about the elderly and general fitness? Yep, yes it is. That is not a trend. That is stating something that many elderly already try to do.]


9. Exercise and Weight Loss: Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients. [Wait, what? How is "exercise and weight loss" a new trend? Isn't that what people have been doing for decades? The writer clearly has a Masters in BS.]


10. Yoga: Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. This includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others." [Again, yoga is nothing new. It is literally thousands of years old. It is as old as Christian carpenters who build Arks.]

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