Handy assistants for health and fitness management
22. March, 2004
When you are ready to make a change in life to manage your health and fitness schedule, and you own a PDA or a smartphone, help is at hand. You can download software to your handheld that converts the mobile device to a source for valuable diet and exercise information. These software products also let you plan, keep track on your progress and help you stay motivated by showing graphs and statistics on what you have achieved.
Although a PDA or a smartphone complemented with a software package is a great assistant for health and fitness, it should not be confused with sports and adventure devices specifically designed for such purposes. Heart rate monitors, wristop computers, cycling computers and other sports and outdoors devices, such as those manufactured by Cardiosport, Oregon Scientific, Polar and Suunto
are meant to guide ongoing activities and follow-up reports are typically generated afterwards on a computer.
A good software package for health or fitness management is a small investment; for instance, the products that we reviewed cost between 10 - 30 Euros. Products available for download come in three flavors: packages that cover both health and fitness aspects of life, products for diet management, and products for planning and keeping track of exercise activities.
Products that are made for managing both health and fitness often consist of two separate pieces of software. The main version of the software runs on a computer and a smaller piece of software is installed on a mobile device. Diet & Exercise Assistant and My Sport Training are examples of such products that provide a wealth of information, planning tools and graphical reporting on a computer and also let you take essential information along on a handheld. The products also allow creating and maintaining several personal profiles so the whole family can use the software with their own user names and personal settings.
As its name implies, My Sport Training is geared towards keeping track of fitness activities. This software lets you log exercises and amount of calories burned, using the information to draw graphs on your progress. It can even exchange information with Polar heart rate monitors. Diet & Exercise Assistant lets you view exercise and diet information as interlinked elements that directly affect each other and in that way, also affects your general well-being. A built-in database of nutritional information linked with exercise activity logs gives instant feedback and produces graphs on the progress of your health management plan.
Software products primarily designed for fitness, exercise or sports typically allow you to log strength training and aerobic exercises and then track your achievements. Some products, such as Personal Trainer for Series 60, can also calculate and track calorie consumption.
If you want to be aware of the ingredients you are digesting when eating your food, diet and nutrition software will help you to sort out the details. NutriData is an example of a product that features an extensive and detailed database of ingredients of food and beverage items. Since the database stays with you on your handheld, it is easy to verify the contents of a food item wherever you happen to be.
PDAs running on Palm OS have a good selection of mobile health and fitness software products, such as:
Sample products for Windows Mobile (Pocket PC) PDAs:
The selection of health and fitness software for smartphones is still limited, but there are a few products available for Symbian OS smartphones, such as:
In addition to the software companiesí own Internet pages, many of these listed and other software products may be downloaded from: Download.com (go to Mobile section before searching for products), Handango and Tucows.
People who are already familiar with some aspects of living a healthy life and know about diet, nutrition, or stress levels of different exercises may manage with simple software that does only one thing. For them, diet software may serve as a handy reference or a exercise software may serve as a log book for following progress of training.
Most people, however, may find the software products which open up a broader view on health and fitness more useful. As family members are able to see the delicate balance between nutrition and exercise on a screen of a computer or a handheld, they may get better insight on the topic and gain additional motivation for long-term overall health management.