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Computing Yourself Fit (Part 4)

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Console options

I can’t really complete an article like this without mentioning console contributions, most notably the Nintendo Wii, and to a lesser extent the Sony PS3 Move and the Microsoft Xbox 360 Kintect.

The Wii with Wii Fit was originally promoted as a means to personal fitness, and it’s true that jumping about in front of the TV does get your heart going. Nintendo has since extended Wii Fit and included a balance board as an option for those looking to move less but still gain fitness benefits. So does using a console to get fitter work?

Description: coming from Sony about the new PlayStation Move controller for the PS3,

Coming from Sony about the new PlayStation Move controller for the PS3,

According to those that have researched the subject, it does, but again it’s something you need to do regularly, and probably in conjunction with better diet control and other more sociable exercises.

The downside of the Wii in particular is that the original controller was rather too easily fooled into thinking you were making a big movement when in fact you made a small one. The later Wii MotionPlus is better, and Nintendo recently announced a fingertip pulse oximeter (heart beat and oxygen level monitor) called the Wii Vitality Sensor. That device isn’t out yet and, according to Nintendo supremo Shigeru Miyamoto, it may never be released due to issues with the reliability of the data it collects.

Definitely in the category of purchasable is the Sony Move controller, which is like the Nintendo remote but actually much more accurate and responsive. To support this, a number of dance and fitness titles have come out like Sony Move Fitness. My Fitness Coach Club, UFC Personal Trainer, Puma After Hours Athletes and a dozen more or so. There’s such a range that they take you from the person just wanting to build up a sweat occasionally to a complete training program.

The Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect has some fitness aimed titles too and plenty of dance ones that could help those who need to burn a few calories. The advantage of this system is that you’re the controller, so you have no need to carry an object with you to register the movement you’re making. The downside to this is that you need much more room for it to work successfully – actually more than most UK homes have in their lounges.

The Kinect does offer plenty of movement freedom, and some of the software titles do catalogue your usage and performance for useful feedback.

For those with an original PlayStation or PS2, you can get a dance mat, which could also help you get some exercise, if only to increase your heart rate for a period of time.

The problem with all the console options is that they’re generally limited to storing your information as part of your profile and not making it more widely accessible. They also don’t encourage you to get out and get fresh air, which is never a bad thing. In general, there’s nothing wrong with using a games console with the appropriate software as part of your fitness regime, though it probably wouldn’t be the best plan to make it the single focus of your efforts.

Final thoughts

Description: Being healthy

Being healthy doesn’t mean that you have to give up your computer.

I have a long way to go in my project, but then when I started out I was north of 407lbs, and in danger of destabilising the rotational orbit of our planet. Two years on I’m at least 80lbs lighter, exercise for two hours five times a week, hike up and down mountains, and fit into clothes that I last occupied in the mid-90s.

I’ve had relapses, suffered joint and muscle pain, and wondered why I’m doing these things on a regular basis, but the improvements in my health and life expectancy are undeniable.

I’m looking to get rid of another 100lbs over the next three or four years if I can, to bring me to a size I’ve not been since I was a teenager! There’s no overnight wonder pill to do this; it’s about developing a plan and then executing it without being diverted by glossy advertising and get-think-quick plans.

Description: A Bike You Can Run On

A Bike You Can Run On

My PC and my smartphone both contribute to gauging my progress, not only in charting my weight loss but in also comparing my fitness performance over time. They provide the feedback I need to justify what I’m doing, and a useful indication of exactly where I am in the greater scheme of things.

Like any system, you can entirely subvert these systems, recording a ‘run’ when you were actually on a bicycle, or omitting that entire packet of chocolate Hobnobs from your calorie intake, but you’ll only be fooling yourself in the end.

So here’s the deal: when you’ve finished reading Micro Mart, why don’t you dig out your phone or go to your PC and start thinking about your health and how you can use these pieces of technology to help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Being healthy doesn’t mean that you have to give up your computer; it just means that you might want to make it part of the solution and less of the problem.

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