Technology to help you get healthier

It is the time of year when we have all returned to our regular schedules after indulging in some of our less than healthy pleasures over the holidays. With January being the time for fresh starts and resolutions, let’s talk a bit about health and fitness as we are easing our way into 2016.

Fitbit is a great health and fitness wearable device. I have been a Fitbit user for almost three years, and I’ve loved it. Fitbit is a mobile-connected activity tracker that comes in a variety of form factors including clip on, different bracelets, drop in pocket, and more. Fitbits have various features, but the most basic feature is a step counter and sleep tracker that tracks your daily, weekly, and monthly activity. I particularly enjoyed seeing how many calories I had burned just by walking. To track your activity, all you need to do is wear the Fitbit. Then, your mobile device or computer is used to analyze that information.

One of my really fun presents last year was a new smartwatch (more on that another time, but it is pretty awesome!). The smartwatch has a lot of the same functions as a Fitbit, but for a much higher price. Though, it also comes with many more features as well. My wife had been very interested in using a Fitbit solely to track her sleep patterns and see if she is really getting restful sleep. So, I reset my no longer needed Fitbit for her. 

Cut to a couple of weeks later, and she is now consistently using the device for tracking her steps. She now understands why there were nights that I would walk in place while we were watching TV just to get my step count up to 10,000 — it really encourages you to move!

Fitbits are great for their simplicity and easy user interface. (I had an 81-year-old client who had bought a used Fitbit and was jumping right in using it!) Still, there are options available that allow you to utilize nothing more than your existing smartphone — so there’s no need to buy an additional fitness device.

One such example is Apple Health for iOS devices only (iPhone 4S or later). Apple Health provides a dashboard of your health and fitness information that you can follow. I have not personally used it, but have heard very good things about it, and developers are working with medical-grade equipment to utilize and share the results from Apple Health with medical providers.

Google Fit is the Android version for tracking your health and fitness data. You can set goals and challenges and use your phone as the tracker. It works with other apps, so you may have a running app that you like that will integrate with Google Fit.

Samsung has S Health built into their devices, and I have used this one a bit as well. It has some great reminders and encouragements that pop up on your phone. S Health works with all Samsung smartphones since the Galaxy S3 and any non-Samsung Android phones running Android 4.4 (KitKat) or later.

None of these devices are going to do the hard work for you, but they can all help with tracking and analyzing your information. Give one a try and let me know what you think.

Paul Burnstein is a tech handyman. As the founder of Gadget Guy MN, Paul helps personal and business clients optimize their use of technology. He can be found through or email him at [email protected]