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Fitness gadgets, apps, and social media are all serving up tools to keep you motivated to reach your goals.

Social Media & Apps

“Athletes are fans of these to stay motivated and on track,” says Danielle Monteiro, a certified athletic trainer at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Kayla A., a senior at Framingham State University in Massachusetts, explains, “There are food and fitness pages [on Facebook] with workouts and motivating quotes.”

More about fitness on Youtube and other social media

Make Fitness Social

Instagram & Twitter
These media can be used to find exercise information. One efficient way to do this is with the “hashtag,” which is essentially a word or phrase prefixed with the “#” symbol. For example, if you’d like to find cardio workout ideas, you just need to search for the hashtag #cardioworkout.

On this site, users “pin” information they like or want to remember later. You can create your own personalized online boards, including links to recipes, fitness routines, or other health information. Pinterest users may share their pins with other followers or make them private.

This is one of the most popular sources of exercise tutorials for students, based on a recent Student Health 101 survey. There are a wide variety of free workout videos here, ranging from Zumba® and kickboxing to abdominal strengthening, weight training, and yoga. All you need to do is search for the type of workout you’d like to try. Make sure the video that interests you is free, and that the instructor is cuing for proper form and alignment.

Note: With all online media, be mindful of the source of any information you find. Not everyone who posts and shares fitness information is actually qualified to give advice about physical activity.

Apps offer structured workouts and instruction on proper exercise form, and many are free or low-cost. They’re highly informative and convenient, and you can quickly develop a personalized plan. Jaime V., a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, says, “MapMyRun has motivated me. I can keep track of my miles.”

Wearable Fitness Trackers

About 40 percent of respondents to a recentStudent Health 101 survey said they don’t currently use any gadgets but would like to.

Traditional Fitness Technology

Sandra M., a senior at Georgia State University in Atlanta, has incorporated various fitness tools into her exercise routine—including a heart-rate monitor, stopwatch, and MP3 player.

Heart-Rate Monitor
A heart-rate monitor will help you determine your target heart-rate range and measure your resting, peak, average, and recovery heart rate.

Monitors range in price from 60–300 dollars. The more pricey ones can be worth the money since they’re able to provide you with more detailed, accurate information.

According to Danielle Monteiro, a certified athletic trainer at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, the most accurate type of heart-rate monitor is one that comes with a chest strap (instead of the kind that measures your pulse from a wristband). However, she notes that wrist-band monitors are cheaper and easier to use.

Sandra uses her stopwatch to alternate between sprinting and resting. “I started running for 60 seconds at a time, and resting for 30,” she explains. Stopwatches are affordable, and many are waterproof, making them convenient to use while swimming or exercising outdoors.

If you’re not sold on buying a gadget just yet, find out if your school fitness center has any to loan out, or maybe a friend will let you borrow one for a few days.

Musical Motivation
Don’t underestimate the power of energetic tunes. “My MP3 player motivates me to keep going until the end of a song,” says Sandra. You and your friends or teammates can put together a pumped-up playlist!

One of the most popular types of personal fitness trackers, an accelerometer, is a wearable device that notes your activity. Gizmos like this provide instant data on anything from number of steps to estimated calories burned. Many send data wirelessly to a Web site or app, allowing you to track your progress over time, set goals, share results through social media, and get support from an online community.

Numerous studies have found that using these technologies can increase physical activity and lead to health improvements. Sandra M., a senior at Georgia State University in Atlanta, began her fitness journey by measuring the number of steps she walked each day. “I saw how easy it was to meet my goals,” she explains.

Prices vary based on the brand and capabilities of the device, so do your research and read reviews before making a decision.

Wristband fitness trackers are easy to wear and are visible, offering instant feedback. Some of the newest options have these innovative features:

  • Alerts if you’ve been inactive for a while
  • Trackers for the quality and quantity of your sleep
  • Notifications when you reach your daily goals

Attachable Devices
Trackers that attach directly to your clothing are another way to monitor your activity and analyze your movement patterns. Cindy F.*, a recent graduate of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, shares, “My Fitbit® really motivates me to move more. I love to hit my goal!”

Comparison of wearable fitness trackers

Popular Devices

There are many new fitness trackers available. Here are a few examples:

Fitbit offers a variety of wearable fitness trackers, from a basic, clip-on model to a wristband that also tracks sleep habits. The basic Fitbit, called the Zip™, tracks steps taken in a 24-hour period, distance covered, calories burned, and total time of activity. It also wirelessly connects to a Web site that provides daily and weekly graphs of movement to track patterns over time. The site automatically sends you a progress report with a summary of your activity each week. Other features include access to an online nutritional tracker that can sync with online food journals.

$59.99 for the Zip
Up to $129.99 for the wristband models

Nike+ FuelBand
The Nike+ FuelBand is a wristband that tracks daily activity, whether traditional exercise or a night out dancing. The band’s LED screen displays your calories burned, prompts you to move for at least five minutes each hour, and lights up when you meet activity goals. It syncs to an app that connects users with a community, food journal, and additional data on their activity level.

$129.99 for the Nike+ FuelBand SE

Jawbone® UP™
The UP and UP24 are fitness-tracking wristbands that analyze your sleep patterns, movement, and eating habits. UP plugs directly into your smartphone to transmit data, while UP24 uses wireless technology to sync your devices. Both options include access to an app that helps you set and achieve daily goals and celebrate milestones, such as distance traveled. Along with the ability to log food, workouts, and sleep, users can also chart their moods to see how these factors are intertwined.

UP is available for iOS and Android. UP24 is only available for iOS.

$129.99 for UP or $149.99 for UP24

Fitness and technology pair well. Check out the many options available to find the combo of gadgets and media that’s right for you.

* Name changed for privacy.

Ever heard of “Exergaming”?

There are many ways to make exercise fun, and one of the most innovative is with “exergames”. Most video-game consoles and online gaming apps offer interactive fitness programs. These are great to do with friends or family.

More information about exergaming

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Jenna Volpe is a registered dietitian and certified group exercise instructor in Massachusetts, with a specialty in weight management and eating disorders.