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Best tech gadgets to get you fit and healthy

Let's be honest, many of us spend far more time sitting than is good for us. I know that's true for me, so I decided to use tech to combat the problem that tech had caused.
Introduction
1 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Get fit, get healthy!

Hands up if you sit too much and don't feel like you get enough exercise? That's where I was a year ago, where I had pounds and pounds to lose, and badly needed to get my cardio levels up.

Over the past year I've decided to use tech to combat the problem that tech had caused.

Want to lose weight? Keep a track of your steps or sleep? Blood pressure or blood glucose levels? There are devices and apps here to help you with all that, and more.

Smart Nora
2 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Smart Nora

When I began my pursuit in January 2017 to use technology to get myself fitter and healthier, one aspect of my health that I wanted to dramatically improve was my sleep. I was sleeping more and more and waking up feeling more and more tired.

I used an app on my iPhone to measure my snoring -- I used Snorelab -- and it turned out that my snoring was at "epic" levels. While "epic" might be good for many things, when it comes to snoring it is not.

Enter Smart Nora.

Smart Nora is an inflatable pillow insert connected to a silent pump that inflates and deflates the insert. The whole system is controlled by a sensor that detects snoring and activates the pump accordingly, which in turn stimulates the throat muscles, allowing for natural breathing to resume.

Things I like:

  • It works! It works brilliantly! It cut my snoring from "epic" to pretty much nothing the first time I used it
  • The pump is super silent, and the action of the pillow insert doesn't wake me up at all
  • My sleep went from bad to awesome the first night I used the Smart Nora
  • It packs away into a handy carry case
  • It comes with a universal travel adapter for charging
  • Only needs charging once a week
  • Far less invasive than nasal sprays, drugs, or things such as nasal dilators and strips
  • Apart from occasional recharging, I could forget about it

Things I don't like:

  • I wish the pillow insert had a non-slip cover (I rectified this by putting it into a non-slip cover)

Overall

I have to admit that I was skeptical of the Smart Nora, and had lots of reservations (I thought it a gimmick, or feared that the pump would be noisy or that the insert would wake me up). But I became a true believer the first night I used it. It really does work, and really helped me get a good night's sleep as I was losing weight and getting my diet in check.

If you are a snorer, I highly recommend the Smart Nora. It really helped me turn around my sleep.

Price: $299

Miiego AL3+ Freedom
3 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Miiego AL3+ Freedom

I've gone through a lot of headphones. One of the problems I have is getting them to stay on my head while I work out. Another is having them be comfortable enough that I don't chuck them back into my sports bag before my workout is over.

The soft on-ear design and fit of Miiego AL3+ Freedom will not isolate your ears. Rather, it will give you situational awareness, where you can still receive impulses and signals from your surroundings and from traffic. The on-ear designs also means that AL3+ Freedom will not irritate the inside of your ear canal or give you sore ears -- and you won't have to worry about earbuds constantly falling out of your ears or getting full of earwax.

Things I like:

  • Comfortable
  • Fit well
  • Don't feel like I'm wearing earplugs or ear defenders
  • Great battery life -- 11 hours
  • Fold away into a small carry case

Things I don't like:

  • Can be a bit fiddly to figure out how they fit the first few times

Overall

I've worn mine pair for workouts totaling hundreds of hours, and they are by far the best sports headphones I've owned.

Price: $79.99

Happy Scale app
4 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Happy Scale app

Happy Scale is simply the best weight loss tracking app I've used. Why do you need a weight loss tracking app? Because it helps to remove the ups and downs and allows you to focus on -- and stick to -- realistic goals.

Things I like:

  • Simple to use
  • Smoothes out fluctuations
  • Advanced weight prediction tools

Things I don't like:

  • Nothing

Overall

I simply love this app because it takes the stress out of weight loss. If you're trying to lose weight -- or gain weight, or maintain your weight -- give yourself the gift of downloading this app.

Price: Free

Apple Watch 3
5 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Apple Watch 3

It wasn't until the third-generation Apple Watch that I decided that the technology was mature enough for me to bother with one. And I'm glad I waited, because the Apple Watch has moved on a lot since it was released -- both in terms of the hardware and the software -- and it's now at the point where it's a very powerful tool.

Not only can I use it to keep track of my sleep and workouts, but it's also handy for keeping an eye on my heart, and also gives me access to a myriad of apps and features to make my day a bit easier.

Things I like:

  • Integrates well into my ecosystem

Things I don't like:

  • Can be a bit fiddly to get the fitting right the first few times
  • Expensive

Overall

I make it a point to try to close my workout rings every day, and in that's something I've achieved pretty much every day since owning it. There are a lot of fitness bands available, but the Apple Watch 3 (whether you have cellular or not) is without a doubt the best available.

Price: $249.99

Philips goLite Blu Energy Light
6 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Philips goLite Blu Energy Light

I've noticed how if I don't get enough natural light (and since I live in the UK, that's can be quite a challenge) I start to slow down and become lethargic. On the recommendation of several people I got myself a Philips goLite Blu Energy Light and my winter blues have completely disappeared.

Things I like:

  • Compact
  • Simple operation (one button)
  • Three brightness settings

Things I don't like:

  • Stand is a bit wobbly

Overall

I have to admit that I was initially skeptical that this would have any effect on me, but after a few days of use I was converted. Now I try to get about 30 minutes of use a day (summer and winter) in the morning just to keep me topped up.

Price: $99.00

Tangram Factory Smart Rope LED Jump Rope
7 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Tangram Factory Smart Rope LED Jump Rope

The Tangram Factory Smart LED Jump Rope uses 23 LEDs in the rope connected to magnetic sensors, and you can see your fitness data in mid-air as you jump. They flash at thousands of times per minute, using persistence of vision as the rope moves over you to display your fitness data in mid-air.

Two sets of ball bearings in each handle guarantee smooth, natural motion.

Things I like:

  • Smooth skipping
  • The persistence of vision trick really works

Things I don't like:

  • I'm awful at skipping!

Price: $79.99

Withings Blood Pressure Monitor
8 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Nokia Blood Pressure Monitor

With so many things going on in the world that are likely to push my blood pressure up, I thought it was a good idea to keep an eye on that metric (because, as the old adage goes, "what gets measured gets managed").

After considering several alternatives, I settled on the Nokia Blood Pressure Monitor, and I wasn't disappointed.

Things I like:

  • Self-contained (no pipes and separate pumps)
  • Easy to use (both the device and the app)
  • Very sleek design
  • Comfortable cuff
  • Single button operation
  • Easy integration with the Withings app
  • Can average out three results
  • Multi-user support

Things I don't like:

  • Takes AA batteries as opposed to being rechargeable
  • A bit noisy

Overall

A simple way to keep an eye on your blood pressure, and if there are any results that cause concern, it points them out clearly and simply.

Price: $99.95

Withings Body Cardio
9 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Nokia Body Cardio

I've never been one to jump on the scales regularly, but it was time to get this fixed. And if I could keep an eye on a few other metrics while I'm at it, so much the better.

Also, since I'm not likely to have a pen or paper with me, I wanted something that would log the results and send them to my iPhone.

I was intrigued by the capabilities of the Nokia Body Cardio, so decided to take a chance on it, and I'm pleased I did.

Things I like:

  • Sleek design
  • A snap to set up
  • Measures weight, fat mass, muscle mass, water mass, bone mass, heart rate, and arterial health
  • Rechargeable (12 months between recharges)
  • Tempered glass top
  • Easy integration with the Withings app
  • Multi-user support

Things I don't like:

  • Bit fiddly to initially know where you're supposed to stand for the heart rate monitor to work

Overall

Flawless performance over the three months I've been using it!

Price: $179.95

Dyson Pure Cool Link
10 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Dyson Pure Cool Link

I don't know about you, but I like to have a fan for the hot summer days and stuffy nights. But I hate the noise (not to mention the dust) that regular fans emit. I've been looking at Dyson's offerings for a few years and this year decided to take the plunge and go for a Dyson Pure Cool Link.

Things I like:

  • Awesome build quality
  • Quiet operation (especially at low speeds)
  • Silent oscillation
  • Can be scheduled to come on at different times
  • Emits filtered air
  • Monitors the air quality and can be set to come on automatically in air quality becomes poor
  • Controllable using remote control and from the app

Things I don't like:

  • Not cheap
  • Replacement filters (which last about a year) are expensive
  • Fans are much bigger than you expect them to be (I was surprised at just how big, to be honest)

Overall

I've always been impressed by the quality of Dyson stuff, and this is no different.

Price: $399.99

Fitbit Alta HR
11 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Fitbit Alta HR

There are a lot of fitness bands out there, and it can be a bit hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. I wanted a band that tracked my steps and heart rate, ideally did sleep tracking, and had a decent battery life.

I opted for the Fitbit Alta HR.

Things I like:

  • Accurate measurement of steps and heart rate
  • Simple design
  • Easy to use (both the device and the app)
  • The "reminder to move" and silent alarm features are really useful
  • Decent battery life (up to seven days, but I get about five or six)
  • Interchangeable bands (so when the original one breaks, it's not the end of the line)

Things I don't like:

  • Not rated as waterproof (although it's survived several accidental trips into the shower, so it seems pretty robust)
  • Tapping the screen to bring up the display can be a bit awkward
  • Display a bit dim for bright sunshine

Overall

Awesome bit of kit which really helped get me moving.

Price: $149.95 - $179.95

AgaMatrix Wavesense Jazz 2
12 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

AgaMatrix Wavesense Jazz 2

I'm not diabetic (or even pre diabetic) but given that the condition runs in my family, I thought it a good idea to keep an eye on things. To handle this task I chose the AgaMatrix Wavesense Jazz 2.

Things I like:

  • Compact
  • Simple to use
  • Connects to the app easily
  • Cheap
  • Doesn't need much blood and is fast at giving a result

Things I don't like:

  • It's so small that it's easily lost if you don't keep it in the carry case!

Overall

I never thought that keeping an eye on my blood glucose levels could be so much fun, and while I don't need to do this, it's interesting to note how different foods have an effect on my levels.

Price: $23.99

Muse
13 of 13 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNet

Muse

I really didn't think that I needed a headband that could monitor my brain activity and help me meditate better, but after trying Muse a few times, I was hooked. Not only are the guided meditations peaceful and relaxing, I've noticed improvements in my blood pressure from regular usage.

Things I like:

  • It's weird!
  • Third-party app support extends the functionality
  • It only takes a few minutes a day
  • The guided meditations are relaxing and interesting

Things I don't like:

  • Can be a bit fiddly to get the fitting right the first few times
  • Expensive

Overall

Come on, it's a headband that can detect brainwave activity -- just that alone makes this a pretty cool bit of kit -- but I have to say that I find that incorporating some meditation into my day has been good for me. Whether I need a Muse to do this is debatable, but it certainly helped me.

Price: $249.99

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