A more app-ealing way to get active
by Alex Dreyer, Packed with Goodness Project Officer and Catalyst Dietitian
- January 11, 2022
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Remember when you had to walk all the way over to the TV to change the volume or push the “Channel +” or “Channel –“ buttons? Technology like the remote control has cut back on how often and how much we move during the day, and tech gets a bad wrap because escalators, e-bikes and even e-mails give us an easy out to avoid exercise. However, technology has also revolutionised how connected and competitive we can be when we’re active, and can even make it fun. Check out our tips on the top tech for a modern take on physical activity…
Before you launch into it…
The health benefits of movement aren’t just about burning kilojoules. Any extra movement you get during the day is great for your physical health, regardless of any changes you notice to your body. It can also boost your mental health, particularly if you set goals and choose activities that are meaningful and enjoyable to you, and can be done socially!
Fitness tracking apps
If you’ve ever driven past the automatic speed checkers that display a smiley face if you aren’t speeding, you’ll know how even a little reinforcement can make a big difference to our behaviours. Fitness tracking apps and wearables do this really well, with step or activity goals that match where you are in your fitness journey, and messages that create a motivating moment when you reach your goal for the day. Streaks is a great tracking-style option as you can create any kind of fitness or wellbeing goal and stay on track using the app. You can challenge yourself to take the stairs more often at work, do a few sit-ups every morning, or spend 5 minutes meditating each afternoon.
Fun and fitness?
Are you someone who likes to take your mind off the task at hand and switch off while you sweat? There are hundreds of fitness apps that make exercise engaging by turning it into a game. For the horror movie fans out there, Zombies, Run! is just one example of an app that uses story-telling and gameplay to make your afternoon walk or run more fun. Through notifications and audio, the game guides you through periods of increased effort by creating challenges and sudden warnings of zombies chasing you. There are so many variations on this, and Pokemon GO and Fitness RPG are other great examples of games that get you going.
Talk to your training partner
While the fancier apps are more polished and presentable, don’t discount a simple messaging app to keep you on your health journey. Maybe your mate lives down the road and you are arranging to meet in the early mornings for a walk, or maybe your sibling has shifted states and you both want to stay on track with your swimming. Instant messaging can keep you accountable, OR sustain the support by having someone else simultaneously sweating it out with you! Combine this with an app like Strava and you can keep up your health kick, give kudos or comments of encouragement, and even battle it out for bragging rights as the fastest family member around your local park.
Brain beats brawn
Wellbeing and health aren’t just about physical activity or exercise. Mindfulness, meditation, and even just setting time aside each day to look after yourself are just as important. There are plenty of apps that can help reduce stress and anxiety, or help you relax or practice gratefulness and positive affirmations. Smiling Mind and Headspace are two options that offer a range of meditation and mindfulness activities ranging from a couple of minutes up to an hour.
Don’t fancy yourself as the ‘Zen’ type? Why not try a comedy podcast or audiobook. Setting time aside to do something for you can be incredibly powerful, and while it may end up reducing the time you have available for exercise, slowing down and giving your mental health a boost is just as important as working up a sweat.