The best health and fitness gadgets
Boost your wellbeing with these genius pieces of tech
When trying to kick-start healthy habits, often the first areas we turn our attention to are exercise and diet. But one of the best things we can do for our bodies is get a good night's rest, with studies warning that sleep deprivation can have a significant negative impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. It's now easier than ever to make sure you're clocking up the right amount of hours, with a wide variety of tech on the market to optimise the experience, from helping you nod off to getting the best start in the morning.
One of the most effortless ways to keep track of and improve your sleep is to use a physical monitor. Beddit (£129.95), which was bought out by Apple last year, is comprised of a discreet, flexible sensor pad that can be slipped under the sheet on top of a mattress. From the moment you lie down it begins to collate information on sleep time and efficiency, heart rate, movement and snoring, as well as the temperature and humidity of the room, with progress trackable through the app. The S+ by Resmed (available from John Lewis, £129.95), works on a similar principal but is even less obtrusive, made up of a monitor unit that sits on your bedside table.
Once you've fully understood your sleep cycle, the next stage is taking steps to improve it. This is where light-based alarm clocks come in, which aim to ease you in and out of sleep by gently decreasing and increasing the brightness of the room. A good place to begin is the Lumie Bodyclock Starter 30 (£59.95), which features 30-minute sunrise and sunset settings and an optional back-up audible alarm.
There's no shortage of fitness trackers around, but Fitbit remains a market leader for good reason. For a wide range of useful functions look beyond its popular wristbands to its smart watches, such as the recently released Fitbit Ionic (£249.99). Whatever your sport of choice, it will automatically recognise the exercise you are doing and record it for you in the app – you can even take it with you in the pool to measure your laps and stroke style. Pull up personalised workout guidance on the screen, or get insights into your health including sleep patterns and heart rate.
If wristwear doesn't appeal, there's a number of other ways to apply a high-tech approach when exercising. The Myzone belt activity belt (£149.99) straps around the chest and provides real-time feedback on heart rate and calories burned. Meanwhile Under Armour's record-equipped running shoes (£130) allow you to concentrate on your run free from any modern distractions while gathering digital metrics that can be then dissected afterwards to help improve your performance.
You've hit the gym and the vegetable aisle, but are your efforts paying off? Nokia's Body+ digital scales (£71.96) helps you see the bigger picture on your health by tracking data on your body weight over time, which then syncs to an app on your phone automatically via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Beyond the normal pounds and ounces, it also displays fat and muscle mass, water retention and bone mass.
The company is also leading the way in other devices that help you manage your wellbeing from the comfort of your own home. The Thermo (£89.95) uses infrared sensors to read a highly accurate body temperature from the temporal artery, telling you if the result is normal and tracking it over time to give you health advice based on the profile of the person and their symptoms. For those with ongoing conditions, tools such as the BPM+ (£89.95) smart blood pressure monitor are invaluable. Tracking statistics over time can aid in building a better picture of heart health, which can be then be easily shared with your doctor.