High-Tech Weight Loss
Do electronic devices and services designed to help you drop pounds actually work? The experts weigh in
New Age Pedometers continued...
How they work: Like ordinary pedometers, they strap onto
your belt to track your steps. But some of the newer versions go the extra mile
to calculate all your activity. The Bell Total Fit Pedometer has both walk and
run mode, plus a step counter, and a calculator for total distance, speed, and
calories burned. The SportBrain 1 step X1 has a similar setup, plus a computer
USB cable that connects you to a web site where you can download software to
chart your progress, along with other motivational tools.
The cost: $30-$40
What the experts say: "A pedometer is only going to
give you a rough estimate of the number of steps you're taking and if you
change your cadence, or stop and go, they all lose sensitivity," says
Schlifstein. So, he says, if you're walking around town, or going up and down
stairs, they may be a waste of time. "I don't recommend any pedometers for
weight loss," he says.
Sandon says pedometers can be good motivators but cautions that accuracy
depends on correct placement of the device. "It has to go on or near the
hip in order to register the movement of a stride," she says.
Bottom line: One of the best things about pedometers,
whether high-tech or the ordinary kind, is that they can shock you into
realizing just how sedentary your life is. Even a rough estimate of how much
you move, compared to the suggested 10,000 steps a day, could motivate you to
get up off the couch.
A number of new software titles have emerged to help keep various aspects of
your weight loss regime on track.
How it works: These programs vary widely, ranging from
providing simple nutritional data -- like calorie counts, nutrient breakdowns,
and meal planning -- to sophisticated tracking of both dieting and fitness
goals. Some also offer meal suggestions, exercise regimens, and daily progress
reports. Many also work in PDAs.
The cost: Average cost is $35-$49
What the experts say: "By using software to track your
progress over time, you can see your accomplishments in print, which can be
highly motivating," says Sandon. As with food journals, Sandon says, these
computer programs also raise awareness about eating habits.
Bottom line: As long as they don't dramatically increase
the time you spend sitting in front of your computer (instead of outdoors
moving about), these programs can provide incentive, motivation, and good
information that works with most any diet program.