The hot Middle East summer has probably had you sitting indoors without exercising too much, so Windows ME presents a guide to gadgets and useful websites to help you achieve your fitness goals
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Track your run
Most of us get back into shape by jogging, running or cycling. These methods of physical training though can be quite boring, and some of us need a little more motivation to get on the track. There is a wide range of gear, software and websites out there that can help you keep track of your progress whilst making your endeavour to become fitter a more fun activity.
Gmaps Pedometer (www.gmap-pedometer.com/)
The Gmaps Pedometer is an online service that helps you plan and create your jogging, running or cycling routes. It works on a Google Maps hack that allows you to zoom in on the area around which you are planning your route. You can then double-click on certain points on the map to make markers that then join up to make up your routes. You can print the map for your use or save the routes.
This tool also gives you the opportunity to change the units in terms of English/metric, alter the elevation, make mile markers and count your calories and it has a GPX feature that you can use to export the map to your GPS device.
Having said all this, this pedometer doesn't necessarily work well for all cities as the WINDOWS team tried to use it without much luck for the city of Dubai for instance. The lines just do not necessarily draw straight along certain streets in Dubai, especially for the runners and cycling option. Nevertheless, this is a simple website that will get you started on your fitness journey.
Another simple site which allows you to track your running is MapMyRun.com, which gives you the opportunity to map your running route, find other running routes in your area and upload your training log. It has applications that integrate with your iPhone, GARMIN GPS device, Nike + and Polar device. This mapping tool is far more elaborate than the Gnaps pedometer when it comes to creating a route, as it has features that can track the local weather and even allow you to indicate water points on your route. It is also free for all users, but one of the annoying things about this site is that it introduces adverts into the equation that can block up the screen somewhat. The site's design therefore is not that intuitive.
Nokia Sports Tracker ()
Nike+ is a fitness tracking service that is used with a custom sports band or with an iPod Nano. The system uses a customised sensor, either placed in the shoe or connected to an iPod. This then tracks your running details, which can then be uploaded to the Nike+ website. This site allows users to track their workouts, share them with friends, discuss them in forums or even set up challenges with other friends on the service.The iPod edition, in particular, offers additional benefits for runners who enjoy listening to music along the way. The iPod not only serves as an exercise monitor but it can also be programmed to play specific music en route.
The in-shoe version of the Nike+ sensor, on the other hand, can be attached to most running shoes but it is specifically designed to fit Nike+ shoes which have a cavity in the heel to house it.
As compared to some of the tracking services mentioned above, the user interface for Nike + is easy-to-use and aesthetically pleasing. It allows you to map your runs and set yourself challenges.
Ditch the Trainer
Running is a sure fire way to get back in shape, but there are obviously other methods that take weight training and your diet into consideration. Below is a list of some sites out there that provide a more holistic approach to your training regime.
With Dailyburn.com you track your workouts, your nutrition and set challenges for yourself. It even gives you the opportunity to set yourself goals to motivate yourself, and, in terms of workouts, it allows you to setup a workout log and find other workout programs, whether they be weight training or cardiovascular. You can even browse exercises as well and what's neat about this site is that it also allows users to see other users' exercises. You can then also invite others to be motivators.
The site itself is well designed and easy to use and one of better fitness sites out there. There are certain features that are only available for users who sign up for an account, but even for non-subscribers it offers a wealth of information and it further has forums that are divided into all kinds of sections focusing on such issues as supplements, motivation and fitness challenges. If you use social networking sites such as Twitter, it links to Twitter and you can ‘tweet' when you do a workout, ‘tweet' your challenge activity, ‘tweet' when you post to a forum or ‘tweet' when you meet a public goal.
This website takes a far more holistic approach to one's health. It helps you build an integrated, comprehensive health profile and history because it provides you one online solution to track all aspects of your health, from your medical history and records to your diet, exercise, lifestyle, and much more. You can upload your medical documents, and you can even keep a track of your daily supplement intakes. The site even has an analysis tool that can help you understand your health, such as the amount of calories you've burnt and so on.
This tool in particular is quite descriptive as it breaks down your food intake into your total fat intake, the level of cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein and water intake. The website also has a tracker feature which allows you to integrate your tracking device with the website. All of this can be accessed in what is quite an easy-to-use interface.
Livestrong is an initiative from seven times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. It is a valuable resource when it comes to exercising and health information, and it has a wide range of tools available that can, for example, calculate your body mass index. The site is very well designed and even focuses on issues such as managing your finance matters and career. The site then gives you an opportunity to also track your calories with an application on your Blackberry or iPhone. The only annoying thing about this site is that it requires a US zip code in order for you to register for it. This issue aside, once you have an account, the site really has many options available to you, such as tracking your fitness, taking challenges and you can even create a profile and connect with others. It definitely takes a far more holistic view on health as it even focuses on such issues as wealth and your general psychological well-being.
It is quite comprehensive when it comes to fitness regimes, with a link that points to a wide range of exercises such as those focusing on balance, flexibility, reactive training and total body workouts. It also includes a tool that calculates your BMI or Body Mass Index. This involves a useful measurement that looks at your height and weight and which tells you if you're the right weight for you height.
This website features a whole range of fitness videos that can help you train better and see how certain exercises are done. This site is akin to the YouTube of fitness videos. You can view how others perform certain exercises or you can upload your fitness videos onto the site. The site itself is quite extensive in so far as it not only features video but also other media such as audio and photos. It has articles on fitness as well.