Get Outside, Get Fit, Get Active…

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by Detective Aaron Yarnell, Knox County Sheriff’s Office

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Spring has sprung, and the flowers are blooming! So, what does that mean?  It is time to get outdoors!  With beautiful weather approaching and the urge to get out into it, now is the time to put down your cell phones, iPads and laptops and enjoy the outdoors.  But, what if technology could help us with our healthy lifestyle and getting outdoors?  Let’s take a look at some great apps for your phones and even wearable technology to help with motivation to get outside and moving.  

Rumor has it, with the growth of wearable technology, Apple is in the process of developing more health conscious apps for the new integrated operating system in IOS 8 along with an iWatch. The problem with Apple junkies, myself included, who want to get in shape now is that these are all just rumors, and any actual devices wont be announced until later this year. So, what is available now to mix technology with fitness to get motivated to move around outside? I’ve been on the prowl and researched different technologies to help me get in shape.

I started with the several free step counters, those devices that measure walking or running distance and how many calories are burned, which are available on IOS and Android markets. One quick internet search will reveal a ton of these kinds of apps. The ones I found were nice, but I wanted more. I finally started looking for different apps to help with my food intake and also for wearable fitness bands that can sync to my device to help me track my progress. After researching a few different apps and fitness bands, I settled on two different solutions. The My Fitness Pal app and the FitBit Flex bracelet.

Using Technology to help me get outside is working! I am enjoying outdoor walks, jogs and even mapping different parks and areas that have good walking trails.

My first step was to monitor what kinds of food and just how much I would eat. I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app, which allows me to set up a profile with height and weight along with a few other bits of information. After the initial setup, I started my log.  With the My Fitness Pal, I can log  the food I eat throughout the day: breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner. With a huge database of different types of foods, it is easy to search and add them to the log. I can also log my exercise. Throughout the day, the app will tell me my total calories available and how many I have left. Exercising and logging earns me points, and the food I eat will reflect in total.  My Fitness Pal also has a social aspect to it that allows me to connect to my friends or other people that may need encouraging. Getting in shape and living a healthier life style seems to be easier with friends.  After inviting a friend to follow me inside the app, we can view each other’s progress in the app.  This is a great way to stay motivated (and also a way to motivate my friends).  The My Fitness Pal app is a free download from the Apple IOS app store or the Android Play store.  Untitled-21

Getting more familiar to using My Fitness Pal and logging my food and exercise was working great, but I wanted a way to track and do more.  My next step into getting fit was to get outdoors and move! I opted for the FitBit Flex band that is available online and at some local department stores to help me with my outdoor activities.  The Fit band flex is a rubber type bracelet with a monitor inside that acts as an activity monitor.It includes tracking my steps along with my other movements.  The bracelet connects via bluetooth to an Apple or Android phone and automatically syncs to the free FitBit app to be downloaded after purchasing the bracelet.  After syncing the bracelet once, the app remembers my device and auto updates.  I can launch the app and monitor my step count, water intake and even log my sleep patterns. I can also set goals on how many steps I want to walk in a day up to a 7 day period.  This helps me stay motivated to hit my walking or jogging goals. Like the My Fitness Pal app, I am able to invite friends and family who have a FitBit bracelet to monitor each other’s activities to help one another.

Using Technology to help me get outside is working! I am enjoying outdoor walks, jogs and even mapping different parks and areas that have good walking trails.  I encourage you to get out, get fit and get healthy! Utilize technology to help get you in shape!

Detective Aaron Yarnell works with the Major Crimes and Family Crisis unit of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, Aaron instructs local citizens on the growing social media world along with the technology that follows it. His SMART Initiative helps educate parents on keeping children safe in a growing social media and technology filled world. Aaron also maintains SocialSafetyPatrol.com, a blog that rates social media apps. Detective Yarnell has been with KCSO since May 1995.

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