5 gadgets to get you healthy that aren’t fitness trackers

If you’re after a piece of tech to help you get fit in the New Year then your thoughts are naturally going to gravitate towards fitness trackers – and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, you don’t have to make use of one of these wrist-based devices to get fit.

You’ve got more options than you might think, whether it’s investing in some serious gym-style kit for your home or making use of free apps on your phone. Here we’ll run down some of the choices you’ve got, but there are plenty of other ones out there.

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1. Exercise bikes

There’s a lot to be said for an exercise bike – you don’t have to go out in the cold, the darkness, or the rain, and you don’t run the risk of bumping into one of the neighbours who you’d rather not see. Hey, you can even watch TV if you like.

Getting the right machine is crucial though, one that fits both your budget and your athleticism. For example, you can buy bikes where you’re sat upright as well as ones where you’re in more of a reclining position (recumbent bikes), so bearing in mind you might be cycling for a while, pick a bike that will match your posture.

Check for the maximum amount of resistance the bike offers, as this will give you an idea of just how far you can push it. If you’re interested in getting serious about distances, times, training regimes and so on, it might be worth paying extra for a bike with a more advanced on-board computer.

2. Smart weight trackers

Knowing how your weight is going up and down is always helpful if you’re trying to stay healthy, and these days you can get hold of bathroom scales that have some extra smarts built into them as well – they connect to your phone so you can see weight over time and try setting some goals.

Investing in some smart bathroom scales isn’t going to be as good for your body as a brisk run around the park, of course, but they can definitely lend a hand as part of a bigger fitness setup. If you’re already using a system to track your health (like Google Fit or Apple Health), then look for some scales that are going to work with it.

Some scales will give you extra statistics to work with too, like body fat percentage or your current muscle mass, using a small electrical charge that’s passed around your body. If you just want the basics of tracking your weight loss, then you don’t have to spend as much cash.

3. Sleep trackers

It’s been scientifically proven time and time again how important sleep is to our overall health and well-being, but it’s often the last thing people get around to dealing with after exercise and diet. With that in mind you might want to invest in a dedicated sleep monitoring device.

While you might have a fitness tracker or a smartwatch that does this job already, the benefits of paying extra for some special tech are that you’re going to get more precise readings on the quality of your sleep, and you won’t have to wear an uncomfortable gadget around your wrist while you’re snoozing either.

You’ve got plenty of choice here, from devices that slide under your mattress, to smart lights designed to wake you up as naturally as the sun does and in line with your natural circadian rhythms. Pick whichever suits your needs and your budget best, and of course check the accompanying app is going to work with your smartphone.

4. Smoothie makers

A nicely balanced diet is a hugely important part of staying in shape as well of course, and if you find it hard to organise yourself three healthy meals a day then perhaps a smoothie maker can help – just pop in as many nutritious and fresh ingredients as you can find, and away you go.

You’ve got plenty of options here and a variety of product names that all basically cover the same sort of device: blenders, protein shake blenders, even soup makers. The main principle is that you can combine ingredients in a way that’s healthy even if you’re pushed for time – it’s better than hitting the local fast food joint or going without a meal altogether.

Obviously the more expensive models have more features and options, but really all you need to check is that your smoothie maker or blender can mix the stuff you want it to mix. If it can clean itself as well, then so much the better.

5. Your existing smartphone

Your good old regular phone can track more of your exercise than you might think, thanks to the barrage of sensors stuck inside it – certainly running and walking, and often more than that if you tell it exactly what you’re doing. Google Fit comes built into Android, while Apple Health is available on iOS.

Maybe you don’t want to drag your smartphone out on to the football pitch or into the swimming pool but you can always add these activities manually afterwards if you need to. It won’t be as accurate as an actual tracker, but it’ll do at a push, and it’ll help you work out how much closer you are to your daily activity goals.

As well as your phone’s built in options, there are a ton of apps you can install on top: Strava for tracking runs and cycle rides, for example, or 7 Minute Workout for guiding you through some measured exercises, or Pocket Yoga for keeping your limbs supple.

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