6 of the best fitness devices on the market

The popularity of fitness tech has grown astronomically in recent years. Selecting the best device has become difficult as buyers are inundated with options. Here’s a few of the best to help you sift through the sea of fitness technology market.

1: Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale:

While it may just look like a regular modernly designed digital scale, the Fitbit Aria is equipped with a suite of features that make it quite useful for those already using fitbit products. The Aria accurately detects one’sbody fat percentage, perhaps a more telling statistic than absolute weight regarding a truly healthy body. Furthermore, the Aria will automatically recognize a user each time they use the scale, after initial setup, and will save the statistics over time. One can track these stats, and gauge their progress via the fitbit interface. The Aria cost $130, and can be purchased at Fitbit.com

2. Withings Activité:

The Activite from Withings

The Activite from Withings

Many are put off with many of the popular wearable fitness technology items by their blocky and industrial feel. For those who want to stay classy while tracking their fitness, the Withings Activé is a great fit. The Activé has the capability of tracking basic stats such as miles walked, sleep, and daily steps. Your daily steps appear in analog form on the device, but it uploads other statistics to the Health Mate app which provides the user with more details. The Activé is far and away the best looking fitness tracker on the market, but is lacking features compared to other options such as the Fitbit or Jawbone.

3. Skulpt.me: This device differntiates itself from many of the fitness devices on the market as it track progress by measuring the user’s activity level (i.e. daily steps, sleep), but provides a holistic snapshot of the body’s health. Somewhat incredibly, the gadget scans any part of the body, and measures the body fat percentage, and muscle quality. Skulpt.me can be a great tool for those who beginning a fitness regimen as it takes some time to see superficial results, but real improvements are occurring beneath the skin.

Fitbit Surge™ Fitness Super Watch

Fitbit Surge™ Fitness Super Watch

4. Fitbit Surge Fitness Super Watch: There seems to be an endless number of tracking bracelet options on the market, many of which are indistinguishable in both design and function. The Surge however separates itself from the pack. This device has the capability to track and measure any statistic you could possibly imagine. This “super watch” comes equipped with a built in heart rate monitor making for a much more accurate measure of how many calories one burned throughout the day. Furthermore, it allows you to see the degree of exertion of your workout: peak, fat burn, or cardio. The Surge also boats a GPS, and allows you to search for and flip through an array of workouts. You can finally leave your phone while going for a job as this watch  has the ability to show you social media updates, text messages, and plays music.

5. Smart Yoga Mat: Although it may not serve as a complete replacement for a visit to the yoga studio, the smart yoga mat comes quite close.  Sensors are embedded inside of the mat ensuring that you optimizing your yoga technique and performance. The mat delivers data to an iPad which provides the user with the number of calories burned, an alignment score, and various other stats. The Smart Yoga Mat is scheduled to be released at the end of the summer, so be sure to pre-order the device.

6. Bragi Dash Smart Earphones: These cordless earphones are one of the most powerful products on the market today. They serve as great headphones while running, but offer a range of other features. They provide the user with great fitness tracking data once synced with the phone app.  Such features include  monitoring one’s heart rate, body temperature, oxygen saturation, pace variation, and more.

The Harmful Effects of Sitting

According to Lisa Marshall at Men’s Journal, the time we spend sitting during the day may be one of the most detrimental things we do to our long-term health. The 33 year old Adam St. Pierre who runs more than 50 miles a week and goes to a massage therapist twice monthly experienced this firsthand. Last year, during the height of his running season, was being bothered by tight hip flexors. He tried nearly everything to alleviate this issue, but seemingly nothing was working. That is when Adam decided to convert his working space to a standing desk. According to Marshall, his ailment was cured within just one week.

Studies show that sitting every day can carry longterm health risks

Studies show that sitting every day can carry longterm health risks

Marshalls points out that  sitting may represent one of the least conspicuous health threats of the 21st century. Experts in the new field of inactivity physiology say that a rise in blood sugar, the tightening of muscles, the slowing of blood flow to the heart are all attributed to sitting for prolonged periods of time.  Marc Hamilton, who serves as a professor at Louisiana’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, says that this sedentary activity for a day or week at a time is not particularly harmful. But, doing this everyday over the course of years or even decades can incredibly detrimental to one’s health. A recent study reveals that people who, on average, are sitting for the majority of the day develop cardiovascular disease as twice the rate of those who do not.

The data also highlights a somewhat unexpected effect regarding exercise and sitting. Marathoners are found to sit around an astonishing 11 hours the days that they train. Additionally, people sit twice as much on the days that they exercise.

However, experts say that the solution to the problem is quite easy and simple. Small movements even while sitting can have a big impact. Simply fidgeting in your chair, or flexing your calves can have a dramatic effect. Experts call this type of movement NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis). Studies have found that the these small movements can burn as much as 400 calories each day. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t exercise regularly or opt for a standing desk, but supplementing your daily routine with NEAT can help you in the long run . Experts have outlined 4 simple tips to help you stand more. These including standing when you feel tired or you yawn, plan your standing/sitting in minutes per day, changing your mindset about sitting, and take quick walks throughout the day.

 

New Study Reveals a Half-Day Window for Healthy Eating Habits

For quite a while, health experts have suspected that late night snacking may be particularly unhealthy. However, little scientific proof supported this inkling until recently.  A study that was published recently by Researchers at San Diego’s Salk Institute for Biological studies corroborates these claims. In their study, mice who were not allowed to eat all hours were more likely to avoid metabolic problems and obesity more than mice who snacked at all times.

In particular the researches organized the study so that some of the mice were allowed to eat high-fat food at any time, while others were allowed the same diet, but only during an eight hour time span. Additionally, none of the animals were permitted to exercise. The researchers discovered that the mice who were consuming food at all hours gained weight, and became generally unhealthy as they exhibited common symptoms of diabetes. However the mice who only ate on the eight hour schedule did not gain much weight, and did not develop any other medical conditions. This study was conducted in 2012.

Carl Koenemann examines a new study from the Salk Institute that reveals that one's eating over the day should be limited to a 12 hour window

Carl Koenemann examines a new study from the Salk Institute that reveals that one’s eating over the day should be limited to a 12 hour window

In a new study which was published in December, Salk researchers gave a group of mice four different diets including regular mouse kibble, high-fat, high-sucrose, and high-fructose.  Within each  group, some mice were allowed to snack whenever they chose while others were restricted to feeding times of 15, 12, or 9 hours.  Furthermore, the calories consumed for each mice was the same.

At the end of the 8 month long study, the mice who could eat whenever they chose became medically obese, and experienced general metabolic health issues.  However, their counterparts who were only allowed to consume food on restricted schedules remained skinny and healthy.

The exact reasons why this time-based eating pattern can prevent illness and obesity is not completely understood currently. However, the Salk scientists believe that the hour at which food is consumed somehow affects the body’s internal clock.  Dr. Panda reports that meal time greatly influences the circadian rhythm, and this, in turn, influences the functions of some metabolic genes.

Although the studies have so far been limited to mice, the researches believe the effects to extend to humans as well. The main take away is to be cognizant of the time frame of your eating habits. Try to limit your eating for a day to 12 hours or less. The clock begins to tick from the first bite you take of your daily breakfast.

Three Apps for Making Healthy Food Choices

The holiday season every winter presents one of the most difficult periods to make the healthy lifestyle decisions. The giant suppers and ample desserts feature an array of dishes that are as unhealthy as they are delicious. It is especially tempting to splurge given the sweaters, and baggy winter clothing that can easily hide your body. Here are some useful applications that will help you avoid the temptation, and continue upon your course of healthy lifestyle choices.

Fooducate

Fooducate

Fooducate

Fooducate is a great app to use next time you are perusing the nutritional facts of items at the grocery store. This app utilizes your phone’s camera to scan said item, and provides a grade about the nutritional value of the item, ranging from A to D. Fooducate also provides more healthy alternatives for which you should opt. It is quite useful if you’re looking for a delicious snack that has better nutritional value than the comfort food you enjoy. It also provides helpful features that keep allergies in mind. Fooducate exists on both Android and iPhone platforms, and is sans charge.

Meal Snap

As with Fooducate, Meal Snap also uses your phone’s camera. Simply snap a picture of your meal on a plate (as the name would indicate), and the app will estimate of number of calories. You can then label the meal as your breakfast, afternoon snack, or dinner to keep track of your meals. If you desire, you can seamlessly share your meal pics across twitter, facebook, and other social media sites. Meal snap goes for $.99 on the apple store.

Pic Healthy

GE and MedHelp partnered to create this app which allows you to take and then upload pictures of your meals. These pics are shared with your friends, family, or whoever you choose. The app allows you, and your friends to rate your eating choice. Furthermore, you can earn points when your followers indicate that your meal was healthy. Additionally, you can score honesty points for posting a unhealthy meal and giving yourself a bad rating. It’s a great tool for a group of friends to try to stick to their healthy lifestyle choices together!

Seven Easy Things to Boost your Health

Here’s a list of seven easy things you should incorporate into your life to help boost your health.

1. Meditate
Meditation has been proven to yield a variety of health benefits.

Meditation has been proven to yield a variety of health benefits.

Meditation has been around for centuries, but has only recently emerged in the last few decades as a popular practice in the western world. Meditating for 10-20 minutes every day to relax and search introspectively has been shown to alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, improve blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help with cardiovascular function.

2. Sleep

Many career-oriented people simply do not get enough sleep on a nightly basis.  No matter healthy you eat or how often you work out, proper amount and quality of sleep is a must for wholistically healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation actually lessens the efficacy of exercise and diet. Experts recommend that you average around seven to eight hours a night, but it varies by person. Additionally, research has demonstrated that lack of sleep actually impairs brain function and makes it difficult to focus

3. Drink Tea

Tea boats an arsenal of benefits that helps boost both the health of one’s brain and body. Some research has proven that consistently consuming Green tea can improve memory and cognition. Also, tea speeds up your metabolism, lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity, and helps with bad breath. So when you’re thinking about grabbing another morning cup of coffee, opt for some tea instead.

4. Floss

Here’s something you probably didn’t think you would see on this list. Flossing is not only important to maintaining dental hygiene. If you don’t floss regularly and your gums become infected, that bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause internal inflammation.

5. Warm-up Before Workouts

Recent research has shown that stretching before exercise might actually do more harm than good. If you actually partake in a dynamic warm-up, including lunges and high-skips, will help mitigate the chance of injury and lead to a better workout

6. High Intensity Interval Training

British Researches have shown that training in a high-intensity interval training style can result with equal benefits you get with endurance training. The upside is that it takes a lot less time.

7. Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses represent the only way to protect one’s eyes. You should throw on a pair of shades any time you think you’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays for a significant amount of time.

8. More Fiber

Fiber consumption is absolutely integral to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Fiber can help lead to a longer life by aiding weight loss, reducing inflammation and blood pressure, and lessen the risk of developing diabetes.

Firecracker Grilled Alaska Salmon

Instructions

  • 16 (4 ounce) salmon fillets
  • 1 cup of peanut oil
  • 8 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 8tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons of green onions, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Firecracker Salmon

1. First take the salmon filets and place them in a medium glass dish. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes. sesame oil and salt in another bowl. Thoroughly whisk this together, and then carefully pour over your salmon filets.  Make sure to cover the dish, and then marinate four 5 to 7 hours.

2. Start an outdoor grill with coals roughly half a foot from the grate. Also, remember to lightly oil the grate, as well.

3. Cook the fish on the grill half a foot from the coals for about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish. Make sure to flip over half way into the cooking process.

 

  1. Place salmon filets in a medium, nonporous glass dish. In a separate medium bowl, combine the peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, green onions, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil and salt. Whisk together well, and pour over the fish. Cover and marinate the fish in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.
  2. Prepare an outdoor grill with coals about 5 inches from the grate, and lightly oil the grate.
  3. Grill the fillets 5 inches from coals for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measured at the thickest part, or until fish just flakes with a fork. Turn over halfway through cooking.

Please check out more of Carl Koenemann’s blogs about finance, music, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Top 7 Fitness Apps

Here is a list of my top-7 fitness and health apps. Please suggest any other apps that you believe belong on this list.

7. Tempo run

Brunell University recently released a study confirming that listening to music while exercising has its definite advantages. In fact, jamming out to tunes with the tempo between 120 and 140 beats per minute during exercise may boost longevity by nearly 15 percent. This app, TempoRun, collects and then sorts the collection of songs on your phone by tempo, allowing you to optimize your workout playlist to increase fitness.

6. ViewRanger Outdoor GPS & Maps

Outdoor GPS Tracker

View Ranger Outdoor GPS

This application is intended for consumers with an affinity towards outdoor sports. The app provides a list of the nearest and best swimming, hiking, cycling, and running routes.  The app has a myriad other useful options such as listing the best bird watching spots along your route and close-by rescue operations if you find yourself in precarious situation.

5. Seven-Minute Workout

This app is perfect for the person having difficulty finding the time to get in shape.  Seven-Minute Workout utilizes a high-intensity regimen consists of twelve different exercises of 30 second intervals. The basic version of the app is free, but users can pay to access more features.

4. Myfitnesspal

This calorie-counter app is lauded almost across the board by fitness professionals as it is free of charge and possesses a very intuitive interface.  Myfitnesspal seamlessly counts and keeps track of one’s daily calorie intake, and even allows the user to set goals to help achieve their target weight.

3.  Fitocracy

Carl Koenemann Fitocracy

Fitocracy App

Fitocracy, acting as a facebook-esque fitness app, brings together fellow fitness fanatics and experts. The app serves as a motivational tool helping facilitate progress in users’ workout regimens and goals with the support of fellow Fitocrats. It’s incredibly useful and was lauded by Men’s Journal magazine as they named it the app of the year in 2012.

2. Pzziz Sleep

A  sound sleep cycle is often an underappreciated aspect of one’s exercise and health regimen.  If you sleep too little, too much, or too often you may be diminishing the benefits of your existing diet and exercise. Pzziz, using euphonious and soothing sounds such as that of the ocean or forest, helps you fall asleep more quickly and helps you achieve a better night’s rest once you fall asleep.  In my opinion, it is the best app of it’s kind on the market.

1. Nike + Running Free

This is a one-stop shop for runners and it’s incredibly easy.  After simply turning on the app, it begins to collect detailed accounts of your running route including information about your distance, time, direction, and speed.  Additionally, the app possesses a neat feature in which you can challenge other users of the app to match your running results.


Please check out more of Carl Koenemann’s posts on music, finance, and healthy lifestyle choices.

Fitness Tips – Getting Started

If you’re looking to get yourself in the gym, there are a lot of things that you should be aware of beforehand. While simply throughout some shoes on and running out the door is certainly healthier than sitting on the couch all day, there are some general guidelines to follow to make sure that you are replenishing your body and that you do not injure yourself. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to looking and feeling better.

First Things First: Nutrition

Read up on my nutrition section before grabbing your gym bag. Nutrition is what fuels you – if you do not have the proper foods in your diet, you’ll only be able to run so far before you fall over or catch a cramp. Proper nutrition is crucial to building muscle. Make sure your balanced diet consists of fruits, veggies, complex carbs, proteins and fats.

It’s also important to start eating more often. Instead of three large meals a day, break it down into five or six meals. This way you are continuing to stimulate your metabolism throughout the day. As your activity levels decrease throughout the day, eat less as the day goes on.

Control portions and eat with a purpose. Everything should offer some sort of nutritional value. For portions – it’s a good idea to make sure that meats are smaller than your palm and that pastas are not larger than your fist.

How to Build Muscle

A protein shake is a great way to repair your muscles after a workout.

A protein shake is a great way to repair your muscles after a workout.

When it comes to building muscle, there are some basics that you should be aware of. You need to increase your caloric and complete protein intake – that’s the basics in terms of nutrition. When in the gym, make sure you are focusing on form. Compound movements, weight training four times a week. You want as little movement as possible – only target specific muscle groups. And rest, rest, rest! Muscle tissue repairs when you’re outside of the gym.

Also, go for as much range of motion as possible. When it comes to how heavy the weights should be, have each exercise last 30 to 45 seconds; if it lasts longer or shorter than that, change the weight accordingly.

Finally, get the proper supplements. It’s hard to meet the requirements for protein intake – look into shakes for after your workouts.

Endurance

Hydration and proper nutrition are the basis for endurance. This type of training is very draining on your body – you’ll be burning calories like crazy, so you need to make sure you’ve increased your caloric intake. When it comes to endurance, you’re trying to exhaust your muscles. Work until you cannot push yourself any further.

Reduce the rest between sets and fight the fatigue that comes on during endurance training.

Find Your Motivation

When you’re stepping into the gym, make sure that you are motivated to perform each exercise to a certain level of success. If you’re lifting weights, count down your reps until you reach your goal. Also, ask yourself why you’re in the gym in the first place. To look good? To feel good? The more effort you put in during your time at the gym, the quicker you’ll reach those goals.

Change Things Up

Change your workout every couple of weeks to ensure that your body does not get used to the exercises you’re performing. It’s important to always keep the body guessing. Changing exercises, how heavy the weights are, the order that you perform exercises, your tempo and your rep/set count will all help keep you from plateauing. Even something as simple as the time of day you train can cause you to plateau.

 

Steps Towards Healthy Living

When people think about living healthy, two things come to mind: diet and exercise. But the reality of the situation is that this is far from enough to keep you healthy. First, this isn’t focusing on your mental health – a very important aspect of healthy living. Exercising and dieting in a certain way can keep you healthy and happy.

Drink water

You’ve heard it before, but it actually works. Drinking lots of water is the first step to being healthy. Sugary liquids have a huge impact on body weight. Drinking water ensures that you are getting all of the nutrients necessary to keep your body functioning properly while also helping you to lose weight.

First, water helps fill your stomach – preventing you from overeating. On top of that, water gives you more energy – allowing you to get up and exercise. Generally, you need anywhere between 8-10 cups of water on a given day. Keep a water bottle on you and fill it up whenever you see a water fountain.

Meditate and change your mentality

Meditation keeps your mind healthy and happy. Happiness impacts a bunch of aspects of your life besides just your mental health. For starters, it gives you more energy.

Meditating is an easy way to get your mind back into gear.

Meditating is an easy way to get your mind back into gear.

It is also important, however, to change your overall mentality when it comes to life. First off, love yourself. Next, push negative people out of your life – there’s no reason to be upset all the time. Finally, keep a journal. This allows you to put your thoughts on paper – getting them out of your head.

Exercise – the fun way

A lot of people say they don’t go to the gym because they “don’t enjoy going.” The solution is simple: find something you enjoy doing that also incorporates exercise. Surely you enjoy playing basketball, football, or soccer? If not, do you enjoy the outdoors? Consider going on a hike or walking through the park. Not only will these get you out of the house – they’ll also help you exercise different parts of your body.

Pick bright-colored foods and stick to brown carbs

Foods that are bright in color are usually high in antioxidants. These antioxidants remove radicals in our body that destroy our cells. Fruits and vegetables that are bright colored will help you feel better in the morning.

When it comes to carbs, stick to the brown carbs. White carbs are refined grains (such as white rice, pasta and white bread) that have nutrients removed in the production process. Brown carbs still have the nutrients and vitamins intact.

Cut out caffeine

Some people claim that they need caffeine for the energy – this is false. Caffeine is a short-term fix that will make you feel energized at the time but leaves your body exhausted in the long run. Instead, use the tips that I have included above. They will give you more energy than caffeine can provide.

Hang out with healthy people

If your best friends live healthy, it will help make healthy living a lifestyle instead of a chore. Your friends will push you to exercise, will take you out to healthy eating spots and keep you happy.

Increasing Your Metabolism… By Eating!

There are a bunch of ways to increase your metabolism. And a faster metabolism isn’t something to just brag about – it will trim your waistline and make you feel better each day. Most of the ways to increase your metabolism involve exercising… however, I’m going to give you some tips on how to increase your metabolism just by eating properly.

What is your metabolism?

It’s the process of breaking down fats, proteins and carbs to produce energy. Your metabolism depends on a variety of things – including (unfortunately for most) your genetic makeup. The number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn while eating and exercising are a large portion of it.

Change in age = change in metabolism

As you age, your metabolism begins to slow down. Around age 25, your metabolism will begin to decline. Each decade, it will decrease by about 5 to 10 percent – meaning that by age 65, your metabolism could have slowed by 40 percent.

This is why it is important to start exercising now. Or, you could simple eat right!

Eating to burn your metabolism

Below I’ve included five ways that you can eat your way to a slimmer body. Start putting them to use today and see the payoff in the near future.

Eat more vitamins

Niacin is one vitamin that can really increase your energy production (that’s why it’s in a variety of energy drinks). Make sure that you are getting a lot of B vitamins throughout the day. These vitamins can be found in dairy products, whole grains, eggs and produce.

Some specifics to try: Quinoa is a rich grain. Eating just a little bit will get your metabolism going. Also, try making an omelet in the morning with a bunch of bell peppers and low-fat cheese.

Start drinking green tea

While it’s not good to get in the habit of relying on caffeine, green tea contains enough to jumpstart your metabolism without making you feel the jittery effects. Also, it contains the antioxidant EGCG, one that will increase the calories you burn throughout the day. If you really don’t want the caffeine, you can find decaf green tea that still contains EGCG – just know that it will not be as potent.

Drinking one cup of green tea can help you burn over 100 calories without doing anything else. What if you only drank green tea throughout the day? The results will skyrocket.

Get some protein in

Protein takes a lot of energy to digest. By eating protein, you are burning more than double the calories burned when eating carbohydrates or fat. Protein is also a key ingredient in building muscle – efficiency of calorie-burning in your body is increased by more muscle mass.

One thing you can try is peanut butter with celery stalks and skim milk. This will give you a jolt of protein will staying low in the carbs and fat department.

Relish in the spices

There have been numerous studies that have shown spicy foods increase your metabolism. For instance, Capsaicin (found in chili peppers) is shown to increase your metabolism by 5 percent. Also, spicy mustard has shown temporary bumps in metabolism activity.

Think of all the condiments that you put on sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs. Instead of using ketchup or mayonnaise, exchange them for spicy mustard. Or, consider sprinkling chili powder into your spaghetti sauce.

Eat breakfast

Don’t send your body into starvation mode: eat breakfast to keep your body constantly supplied with the energy it needs. When you have an empty stomach, your cells begin to conserve energy. Eat within an hour of waking up to get your body started.