There's nothing like a little competition to get you motivated—even if it's only with yourself. That's the principle behind a whole new array of digital tools that help you get fit, keep fit, or track exactly how you're doing—whether it's calorie intake or energy output. The simplest tools, like a pedometer, are always popular. But just tracking the number of steps might become passé if fitness trends continue. Now there are ways to not only count the steps you take daily or hourly, but to compare those numbers over time and share them with others. And that's just the start. Here are some of the best gadgets in a whole new wave of digital fitness products that use computer games, iPods and social networking applications to help you in your quest for a healthier physique:
1. Upping the Fun Factor. More fitnesscentric videogames are cropping up in addition to blockbusters like Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution. My Weight Loss Coach from Ubisoft, for the Nintendo DS, allows users to plug a pedometer directly into the DS and upload information about their weight to access daily fitness advice and objectives, as well as diet tips and health-related trivia games.
2. Connectivity Counts. The FitBit, due out this holiday season, will be able to measure daily exercise and sleep quality, then remotely transmit the information to a computer so users can keep track of their progress online. And there's a community aspect—users will be able to share their information and goals with family and friends. This, says the manufacturer, is the first generation of health devices that are connected to the Internet in a meaningful way.
3. New Ways to Compete. Stationary-bicycle manufacturer Expresso Fitness has sold about 4,000 bikes equipped with television screens that allow users to ride challenges on different digital terrains and chase a dragon through the sky. Users can also keep track of their workouts on the Web, setting goals for themselves and gaining digital awards for achieving certain distance milestones. Concept2, which manufactures rowing machines, has a model that allows up to eight users to wirelessly race each other.
4. Real-Time Tracking. Weight Watchers recently launched an application that allows members to monitor their daily points wherever they are using their BlackBerry or iPhone. However, Weight Watchers Mobile and WeightWatchers.com, which tally everything from your water intake to the points you earn by exercising, are meant as supplements to the in-person Weight Watchers program. The company says those who use all three ought to see the best results.