Technology has been blamed for making Americans fatter and less fit. With more than 78% of Americans with access to the Internet and more than 72 million American adults diagnosed as obese, you can only assume the statement is correct. Let’s take a deeper look and see if technology and fitness can work in “synergy” or if the offerings of today “conflict” with the fitness philosophy and a healthier quality of life.
We live in the “age of technology”, also known as the “age of convenience” and the “internet era”. The technologies that have been developed in the last decade have forever changed the way that we live our day-to-day lives. Technology has made our lives more efficient and effective. We can accomplish more tasks with less physical effort and in less time. We can essentially survive in today’s world using just two (2) things: a computer (which includes smartphones or tablet PCs) and access to the Internet.
The Internet (probably the greatest invention of the 20th century) has given this generation the ability to communicate with the rest of the world in a wide variety of ways. This includes the ability to work, play, communicate and exist without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes.
This does not bode well for the people who need or want to get more fit and healthy.
Fitness, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. Fitness is defined as the “condition of being physically fit and healthy”. In order to become “fit” one must challenge the body in a variety of different ways to achieve a healthy level of fitness (cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, etc.). The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) both recommend thirty (30) minutes of moderate-intensity daily physical activity five (5) days a week.
If technology has made people move less and improving ones physical fitness requires that we move more, how can we live in a world where both are important? Is technology the archenemy of fitness? Can the average North American become healthier and more fit in the age of technology?
Absolutely! Technology is playing a large part in helping to make fitness and exercise more appealing, more engaging and giving people more tools to track and see results. Unlike traditional fitness offerings, technology can make physical fitness and exercise entertaining, motivating and fun.
Most of us, when we think about the words “fitness” and “exercise”, think of push-ups, sit-ups, dumbbells and treadmills. We don’t enjoy exercising and dread the thought of having to get sweaty, feel pain and experience disappointment when we don’t reach our fitness goals. Exercising is inconvenient and time consuming, takes too much effort and just isn’t fun.
Fast forward to the twenty first century and now we have video games that get you fit (Nintendo Wii Fit, Xbox Kinect, XRKADE), fitness apps to keep you on track (iPhones and smartphones), commercial fitness equipment that is safer, more effective and more time efficient than traditional equipment, and programs that provide valuable data and information to keep people motivated and on track towards reaching their health and fitness goals! This is not your typical fitness club!!
Technology has become a powerful vehicle to help engage and motivate people to move and get physically active more often. As human beings we know that we should be active and move our bodies. Unfortunately, the stresses of everyday life and the endless responsibilities on our “to do list” push exercise to the bottom of our list of priorities. But now, physical activity is not only something that can be done effectively and efficiently in the home, it can also more effective and enjoyable in a fitness club environment.
Technology not only gives participants tools to help them to be more successful in reaching their personal fitness goals, there are new and exciting technology-driven solutions helping fitness and wellness professionals deliver better services for their clients.