‘Involving the PC in what you’re doing
isn’t critical compared with actually getting off your backside and doing
Obviously, you can’t take the PC with you
while you’re exercising, unless it’s a very small one. And even if it is
transportable, jogging while using a screen sounds like a recipe for an A&E
visit, or worse. However, there are ways that a computer can be useful in terms
of managing your fitness programme and sharing your experience with others.
At the simplest level, you can use a
spreadsheet to chart your workouts, what days you exercise and how much you
did. Or if it’s a diet that you’re more interested in, then you could use it to
note the calories you’ve consumed throughout the day, checking you’re staying
within your allotted quota.
But there’s also plenty of software around
that’s designed to help you achieve your goals more directly, and perhaps build
you a longer-term project for a healthy lifestyle.
They’re generally broken into two
categories, fitness and nutrition, with some products overlapping these areas.
Those that focus on nutrition alone are
usually built around a basic calorie counter, usually augmented with an
electronic ‘coach’ that provides you with eating goals and helps you track your
intake quotas. Most of these have many before and after pictures promoting
their success, and I’m sure some of them are worth what they’re asking.
However, most of this information you can get for free or cheaply, because the
internet if often a very helpful place.
For those wanting a digital equivalent of
WeightWatchers, there are also many good options around. All the diet clubs
have websites with online memberships, and some other brand names can be found
that are exclusively online.
In researching this article I found that
Sainsbury’s has a rather nifty diet site (www.sainsburysdiets.co.uk/Home)
where you can sign up to its club for as little as $115 a year. It seems a very
comprehensive site that helps you develop personal meal plans and an exercise
regime, and even if you don’t sign up there are some free calorie and exercise
calculators that you can use. However, while perusing this site I was struck by
the irony that it would like you to pay for its help in reducing the effect of
food it might have sold you through its excellent marketing campaigns.
In looking for PC-related fitness products,
I came across plenty that turned out to be DVDs, listed on the basis that most
computers these days can play them. That’s slightly discouraging, but there are
some PC Fitness products that are software and not just videos of other
already-fit people telling you what to do.
There are many products around, some of
which are better than others at providing a means of connecting the exercise
dots. Of the ones I’ve seen, I’d have a look at ProTrack (www.dakotafit.com), CrossTrainer (www.crosstrainer.ca) and Workoutware (www.workoutware.com), but there are many
to choose from and new ones are being released on a regular basis.
At the other end of the software spectrum
are very serious training tools, targeting training for one particular ability
or sport. I found one that was aimed purely at speed skaters, and others for
those who’d like to take cycling very seriously indeed. These are things that
you can consider should you get yourself in the zone of ‘fit’, but for most
people they don’t need the degree of control and record keeping that these
products provide. Much of this software is directed at coaches who are working
with athletes on a daily basis and, as such, is geared towards the sort of
fitness goals that get you medals, not into a lower size of pants.
In the final analysis, involving the PC in
what you’re doing isn’t critical, as compared with actually getting off your
backside and doing something. But even if you just create a spreadsheet to note
down what you’ve eaten, or use an online calorie counter, then the equipment is
contributing a little to counteract the negative impact of sitting at it for a
One thing that many people who decide to
improve their lifestyles talk about is ‘support’, in terms of having people who
help provide motivation for what they’re doing. I can be quite easy for some
people to regress back to their previous eating habits and fitness regimes (or
lack of them) without encouragement from others.
In many respects, I’m the wrong person to
talk about this, because I’m personally driven and, as such, never felt the
need to have a team of emotional cheerleaders waving their pom-poms and
shouting ‘Go Mark’, from the sidelines.
However, I’m willing to accept that some people
find it invaluable, and it’s because of the requirement to share their
experiences, highs and lows, that organisations like Slimming World and their
Most of them also provide an online
presence, so that you can keep in touch with your fellow group members, and
often post your progress for others to follow. The latest offspring of this
type of linkage is to connect your efforts to social networking sites like
Facebook, so people can see what you’re doing, and provide encouragement,
Having people say positive things is
useful, but you might also get some useful advice from those who have attempted
something similar or are further down the road than you. It’s not for everyone,
but for those that use social networking, it’s an ideal synergy to create.