The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report has shown that the UK’s interest in fitness and wellbeing is continuing to grow, with more people joining health clubs and gyms than ever before.
Currently one in seven people in the UK is a member of a gym1, and this is expected to grow, as are fitness classes such as spin, pilates and jive classes; alongside alternative hybrids such as VOGA – a hybrid of yoga and ‘vogueing’.
As the popularity of a regular health and fitness regime increases, interestingly people are looking to technology to help improve their routines and achieve their goals.
Why is fitness important?
The NHS says taking care of your health and fitness can reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer, by up to 50 per cent and lower your risk of early death by up to 30 per cent.
The important thing to remember about health and fitness is that it doesn’t need to be expensive and it can be free. More and more people may be going to gyms, but there is nothing to stop you running, walking or doing workouts designed in your home for no cost. This is particularly important as recent Public Health England data suggests 6.3 million adults, aged 40 to 60, fail to achieve even just 10 minutes of continuous brisk walking over the course of a month.2 The data also says people in the UK are 20 per cent less active now than they were in the 1960s with sedentary lifestyles having an impact on health.2 So there’s still a long way to go.
So how can we keep track of our fitness progress and how can we motivate ourselves to maintain a regular fitness plan? To answer these questions, we can look to technology to help us.
Currently there are a range of fitness trackers on the market, each offering slightly different designs and interfaces – with some looking like traditional watches and others high-tech bracelets. Fitness fans looking for a digital tracker have a wealth of products to choose from offering data on heart rate monitoring – for both resting and active use – steps taken in a given period and even sleeping patterns. As fitness trackers have evolved in recent years, so have their abilities.
Armed with this data, you’re able to tweak your fitness regimes to focus attention on key areas for improvement and ultimately stay as fit and healthy as possible.
In a similar way to the wrist-born hardware, mobile phone apps are now available for most operating systems, which count calories and collect stats about runs, walks and bike rides to monitor the progress being made.
Many of the apps, such as MyFitnessPal, Nike Training Club and Fitocracy, are free and even include short workout programmes to make sure you get the most out of your physical activities.
Additional exercises, hints and tips can also be found on social media with some great content on a range of YouTube channels.
What to wear
Health and fitness technology isn’t limited to wrist-worn trackers however – it’s developing into so much more.
For serious exercise enthusiasts, some of the most important technology available to benefit health and fitness is now being incorporated into clothing and footwear. Be they trainers featuring fitness trackers in the soles, or even shorts – which can collect combined muscle load with heart rate data, such as cadence, speed and distance – technology is seeping into all our kit.
Technology is also being adapted for sports such as cycling, and some bike manufacturers are beginning to build data collecting bikes for enthusiasts to be able to identify areas for improvement.
Looking to the future
The investment and development in fitness and wellbeing technology is only going to increase so we have more data on hand to make the most of our exercise time, to help us get fitter and healthier and to give us that boost we sometimes need to keep going.