Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Using Technology to Combat Obesity

By Jacob Gutnicki


Over the past few years there have been numerous articles that have reported that the increase of childhood and adult obesity is growing at an alarming rate. Additionally, various medical journals have documented that obesity related diseases including diabetes and heart attacks have sharply increased. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the following alarming trends have occurred over a period of 20 years;

- In 1990, among states participating in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, ten states had a prevalence of obesity less than 10% and no states had prevalence equal to or greater than 15%.
- By 1999, no state had prevalence less than 10%, eighteen states had a prevalence of obesity between 20-24%, and no state had prevalence equal to or greater than 25%.
- In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia ) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%.

In the meantime, varying interest groups and politicians have pointed the finger of blame at a number of items including portion sizes offered at restaurants, sugary school foods, the inclusion of trans fats, video games, school fitness programs or rather the lack of one, as well as other mitigating factors. Needless to say, there are plenty of people who can be blamed for this perplexing problem. However, in the final analysis blame will not change our situation. In the end, innovative solutions are needed to combat this problem. With this in mind I will share with you a couple of promising ideas.

1. Spark People is a Social Networking web site which shares inspiring diet stories with its users, offer tools to create sensible nutritional plans, a nutrition calculator for the purpose of calculating caloric intake, varying fitness tools, instructional videos, and other tools to track your progress.

2. iGoogle Calorie Calculator is a Google Gadget that lets you plan your meals according to your caloric needs and includes a database of more than 70,000 foods to choose from. Using calorie calculators is a convenient way of planning your daily nutritional needs and can be used to track and adjust consumption decisions.

3. Wii Fit- Traditionally, video games have been blamed for the increase in childhood obesity. This is largely due to the fact that video games can be addictive and subsequently involve a great deal of seat time- hence the term couch potato. Fortunately, Wii Fit differs in its approach as the participant is required to stand on a "balance platform" and perform a variety of exercise such as running, yoga, aerobics, and other rigorous activities. As a result, numerous studies have shown that this tool has helped participants lose weight and become more fit.

4. Dance, Dance Revolution requires the participant to conduct a variety of aerobic exercises. More importantly, a study in West Virginia demonstrated that Dance, Dance revolution helped overweight students become more physically active and lose on average 10-15 pounds. Additionally, other school districts have achieved similar results.

5. iPod Nano + Nike, or and iPod, or an iPod Shuffle- Whether you carry one of the newer or older iPod models this device can be used to exercise in numerous ways. The shuffle is a convenient way to enjoy a jog in the park. If you want to track your run, the Nano allows you to track the pace of your run and compete with other runners. Both the iPod and Nano model are excellent for the gym as you can watch your favorite television show or movie while using an elliptical or similar exercise machine for an extended period of time.

6. Garmin Sports Watch- If you are looking for a device that offers more tracking options to co-inside with your run then the Garmin Sports Watch will definitely meet your needs.

7. MapMyRun.com is a community web site for runners and joggers who want to stay healthy, lose weight or train more effectively. More importantly, Map My Run is also used to share varying jogging routes a runner created and tracks related statistics.

8. Calories Per Hour is a web site that allows users to calculate what their caloric needs are, use a BMI calculator, and calculate how many calories are burned conducting a variety of activities including walking, jogging, running, weight lifting, swimming, as well as other physical activities.

9. iPump is an iPod application that includes;

· A variety of workouts drawing from thousands of unique exercises and equipment such as barbell, exercise ball, dumbbells, kettle bells, BOSU, foam roller and more.

· The ability to search workouts by location (hotel, home, gym, etc.), goal (arms, abs, cardio, etc.) or keyword.

· An exercise database with incredible variety. My favorites - squat thrust to push up with a med ball and 180 swings with a kettle bell.

· Videos of each exercise.

· The ability to edit workouts or create your own

10. Exercise Pod Casts- There are many free pod casts available for download that offer quick tips and other useful hints. A good place to start your journey is with My Free Trainer. My Free Trainer offer pod casts both for men and women with Pod Casts for beginners, intermediate exercisers, and an advanced level. Additionally, it provides a calendar of classes. For example, Wednesday's class focuses on the legs and chest, while Monday's class focuses on Pull ups, Crunches, and using Dumbbells. There are many other free pod casts on the Internet which can easily be found in the iTunes store under the Pod Casts tab with the category Fitness and Workout.

Final Word- The following is a small list of possible methods to get your body moving. I happen to immensely enjoy jogging and weightlifting to music. I also enjoy watching television shows and movies while exercising on the elliptical. That being said, one does not need technology to exercise. It is simply another approach to exercising. If you enjoy playing volleyball, soccer, swimming, competing in half-marathons, or a run in the park, go for it, and don't forget to Keep on Moving.

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