(ARA) - As Americans' appetites for new gadgets grow, so do our waste lines. But what if your iPad or smartphone or even your gaming system could help you get in shape and stay there? While your smartphone can't double as a dumbbell, all that technology you're lugging around actually can help get and keep you fit.
If you're always on the go, start measuring just how far you are going with a pedometer application for your smartphone. And kick it up a notch with one that will post your results to your Facebook page. "Not only does it track you, but it let's all your friends know if you're slacking," says Shannan Wheaton, academic director for Graphic Design and Web Design & Interactive Media at The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati. You can take your workout to the next level with race training apps that will help to pace you, maximize your potential and get you ready for your first 5K or fifth marathon.
If you're always eating out or want to know just how much of a caloric punch that a gallon of ice cream really packs, there are plenty of apps that will help you count your calories. You can choose from thousands of restaurant menus stored on the app or choose your favorite supermarket foods. The apps will even help you calculate how many calories per day you should consume based on your current height, weight and goals. Those apps also allow you to track the calories you burn during exercise and take that into account when giving you a daily calorie allotment.
And if you can't be bothered to type in your food selection, Ted Long, academic director of Web Design & Interactive Media, Digital Filmmaking & Video Production and Visual Effects & Motion Graphics at The Illinois Institute of Art - Schaumburg has a solution. "Mealsnap lets you take a picture of the food you're about to consume and gives you the calorie count by comparing your image to the images it has stored in its database," he says.
Once you get home and start charging your phone, you may want to unwind with your Xbox, Wii or Playstation. Good thing all three systems have interactive workouts that could have you doing crunches, boxing against a virtual opponent or dancing the pounds off. "Any activity you can do outside, like cross country skiing or baseball, you can do with these gaming systems," says Li Harmon academic director of Game Art & Design, Media Arts & Animation and Visual Effects & Motion Graphics at The Art Institute of Las Vegas. Harmon adds that some of these games even make you feel guilty if you haven't done your virtual workout in a while.
If you're always heading out of town on business and don't want to sweat it out at the hotel gym, take your virtual yoga instructor with you. Long says there's a yoga app that comes with HD video so you can see each of your instructor's positions more clearly.
Wheaton says there's more of that kind of workout coming in the future. "We're heading toward a video world and we're going to see more virtual personal trainers in the future."
Just how effective will all these technologies be in the long run? Wheaton, Long and Harmon all agree, that just like a gym membership, you have to use it to get results.