And They Say Technology Will Make Us Fat

As technology has advanced and we humans do less and less physical work (when’s the last time you had to grind the grain for your bread or weave the fabric for you clothes?), the tech often gets a bad rap for causing us to pork up. The movie WALL-E predicted a future where not only had we trashed our earth so much we couldn’t live here, but our feet seldom if ever even touched the ground of spaceships where we lived.

That one actually put Disney in a position to be an easy target for criticism when they sold the video game for the movie. As one blogger put it at the time: “Any company worth its salt is going to try and make as much money as they can, any way they can. However, when you spread one message on one end and feed the destructive nature on the other you are bound for trouble.”
More recently, research presented to the Associated Professional Sleep Societies said adolescent obesity is associated with having less sleep, and that reduction in sleep was blamed on higher caffeine intake and more hours of technology use.

But, I’ve recently started using two new popular bits of technology to try to get myself back into the shape I want to be. One is the Wii Fit. While I’m probably not using it to its full potential (my girl keeps reminding me I should do some exercises that are more active than the yoga), I have found the way it records your time to be very encouraging. Like a little electronic trainer, it’s happy to see me and tells me it missed me if I don’t stop by every day. Its tracking of my weight and body mass index is really handy – and the exercises are fun!

Fit Tech

Even the medical industry seems to be taking notice and this year’s Games for Health Conference showed how video games are used to help both doctors and patients.  [Update: Just saw this great post in my Google Reader from the Shaping Youth blog with more news on the increased interest in “healthy games” – including Humana is now offering $5000 to create a healthy game concept] But before I digress into a post on the opportunities of virtual world environments for emergency and medical training exercises, back to my world of getting ready for a beach vacation.

For all the fun I’ve been having on the Wii, I haven’t really be using it enough to see the results I want before our summer vacation, so I knew I had to change my eating habits, too. That’s where my new iPhone has come in quite handy.

After the 3G S phones came out, my husband and I finally broke down and purchased a couple of the now lower-priced versions of the phone. One of the first apps I found was a free one called Lose It! that would help me count calories – the only way I’ve ever been able to successfully diet. Now, right there in my purse or pocket is constant record of what I’m eating. And if you want to spring for the more expensive new version of iPhone, it apparently has the Nike sensor built-in – making it one of Chris Prillo’s top ten things he loves about the iPhone 3G S.

So, after a couple of weeks combining my iPhone calorie counter with my Wii Fit yoga and some extra walks with the dog, I’m happy to see progress. And, I’m glad to see that technology can do more than make us sedentary and fat.

What about you? Any favorite technologies you use to keep healthy?

One comment

  1. Amy Jussel · July 7, 2009

    Actually, I use the ‘Fast Food calorie counter’ in my counter-marketing work with kids alot as it’s handy and taps into a core ‘issue’ of the sedentary blame game pointing to technology. As you know, there are a plethora of positives in addition to the couch potato vidiot/zombie addiction stereotypes in play.

    Shaping Youth is trying to balance BOTH spheres, as I’m a huge fan of Richard Louv and the need to get kids outside or risk ‘nature deficit disorder.’

    I think technology can even springboard some of those online to offline experiences to make them more enriching too…from elaborate geocaching and immersive ‘tracking’ experiences learning about the trails and planet you’re hiking in depth, to media as sentinels, e.g. Wall-e, Ice Age, Hoot, or the upcoming G-force eco msgs) as long as we pay it forward OFFline to get kids’ keisters into action rather than ‘point and click’ advocacy.

    My favorite line from Richard Louv’s eco-talk was about rabidly active green teens that advocate for the environment in quick click mode but wouldn’t know poison ivy on a trail if they were stepping in it 😉

    As for gizmos: I’d point folks to the HopeLab Gditty device, or MuveIt’s Gruve or FitBit too…lots of cools motivational tools surfacing along these lines that will no doubt make their way into iphone apps, and affordable mainstream ‘check yourself’ messaging. (MuveIt/Gruve is working on a wearable ‘metabolism alarm’ when you need to get up from your computer and shake out the body before it slips into slumber mode burning less fat, which I’m dying to try out!)

    p.s. If you like WiiFit, you might enjoy this post I wrote called “Wii are family, a French look at global gaming: I’m also wrapping up the healthGAMERS series this week to discuss our testing of ‘virtual nutrition’ inside of kids tween worlds, and address the new ‘brain games’ for mental floss too…

    Meanwhile, I’m with you on the ‘walking the walk’ talk Laura, and need to go for ‘self care’ that nourishes, which in my world will be “dogs as motivational force” as I just adopted two abandoned shelter pups which keep me zoomin’ ‘up and out’ every hour to stretch and prevent online stiff-joint-lock-up! Thanks for the great post, looking forward to more…


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