5 Cool Gadgets to Help You Get and Stay in Shape

If you're like me, you've just lost 20 pounds, turned over a new leaf, and feel like a million bucks.

Just kidding all the way: I spent the summer in front of a computer and feel like I need a nap even when I'm sleeping.

That said, here are a few cool tech toys that might help you make -- and stick to -- a workout plan.


Fitbit -- The Fitbit is a teeny-tiny $99 pedometer that lives on your belt. You wear it all day, even while sleeping, and it automatically syncs with your computer. 

What does it tell you? Well, it senses the steps you take and also assesses your sleep quality by counting how many times you toss and turn at night. The resulting charts and graphs are further simplified by the tiny icon of a flower that grows -- and fades -- as you exercise. When the flower is in full bloom, you're happy and healthy. When it's short and sickly, you might need to get off the couch.

You can also register the foods you eat so you can tell what you're consuming vs. what you're burning. It's an easy and interesting way to keep track of your health.

Lark -- You owe yourself a good night's sleep. The Lark is a product that tries to get it for you. It's actually a unique, silent alarm clock that wakes you with a gentle (wrist) vibration. It senses your current sleep habits and adjusts to your deepest state of slumber so you're not wrested out of REM at the wrong time. It's completely controlled via the iPhone or iPod Touch, and you can use it to see how well you're sleeping. It costs $129 for the sleep band and base.


Nike+ SportWatch GPS -- This $199 gadget might be a bit pricey but it's one of the cheapest GPS watches you can buy. It can tell how long you've run and how far and, with an optional heart-rate belt, let you know how hard you've been exercising. It also works with the tiny Nike+ shoe pedometer. 

A word of warning, however: I've had some trouble with the watch picking up a signal in dense urban areas, so keep that in mind before you buy. 

RunKeeper -- If you don't want to spend money on any gadgets, geegaws, or gimcrackery, there are plenty of apps for the iPhone and Android that will help you maintain your weight and exercise regimen. RunKeeper is one of my favorites. It's a free app that uses your iPhone's GPS chip to track your runs in real time and map your favorite routes. 

It was one of the first and best running and biking apps out there, and it's great for ramping up an exercise program. 

LoseIt -- And then, there's LoseIt, a free app that lets you enter the foods you eat and the exercise you do and then assesses your calorie targets. It's so simple that it's almost effortless and it helps you understand the caloric content of the stuff we stick in our mouths.

All these toys can help you get on track, but none of them can control our willpower. Maybe the best gadget is a lock on the fridge after all.


Image (top) via Shmoomeema/Flickr

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