Episode 81 – Fitness Gadgets and Gizmos with Darren Kirby
00:01:04 Why data is important in health and fitness
00:02:51 Tracking our daily activity
00:04:34 Different tracking devices that can be use
00:06:27 Why we should track our heart rate
00:10:58 Blue light blocking glasses
00:17:34 Top five gadgets and gizmos
Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad Podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym here is your host Darren Kirby.
Darren: Welcome back to the podcast, guys. This is the number one podcast for dads in their 40s who want to improve their health and fitness. This is Episode 81. And today we’re going to be talking about a really exciting topic, gadgets and gizmos. So let’s dive into it. And I think before we kick off, really, men, dads, boys, we all love new gadget, new gizmo that’s just come out onto the market that we on a topic that we’re interested in, whether that be a mobile phone, whether it be the latest laptop or smart device or devices for the home, we love a gadget. So in the context of health and fitness.
You know, data is really, really important because data kind of gives us an insight as to what’s going on, you know, how effective our training’s being, whether we’re meeting our targets and our goals and just generally how you are performing in yourself throughout the day. And I think we are in this real unique time right now where the kind of Moore’s Law, where the power of computing doubles every so many years. And it seems to me that the technology is just becoming more and more affordable. There’s some really interesting stuff out there. You know, I think we’ve all been indoctrinated into the whole kind of step counting challenge, if you like, through, you know, through smart watches that we’ve got through phones that we’ve got. And, you know, that’s just one example of how technology has really transformed how we look at health, how we look at our daily activity. You know, really at the other end of the scale, we’ve got things like the Carol AI Bike that we had the guys from the car on a few episodes ago. And this essentially is almost like hacking your work out where you go on the couch. I bike for about 18 minutes and then you effectively only do about two minutes of high intensity work to get the equivalent of almost an hour’s worth of training just by the Carroll bike. Has AI built into it and it genuinely learns your fitness levels and adapts the program as you progress on the bike.
So, you know, going from a step counter to an exercise bike, which is run by AI and all of the stuff in between is just crazy. And I think we again, although we’re in a time of technology kind of becoming cheaper and more and more powerful, we’re also in a time where we can be completely overwhelmed with data. So what I really want to go into today is some of the basic things that we can track and then what devices and gadgets and gizmos can we use in order to kind of track that data. So like I just said, you know, a very basic level now, we pretty much all of us will have some form of a device which will enable us to track our daily activity. So whether that’s running or whether that’s just generally moving around or whether that’s just generally walking is very, very good, I would say, to track your steps for the day. And in the 90 10 program, we always have in our 30 day plan to make sure that you get a minimum of 10000 steps in a day. So how do you make sure that you’re getting those 10000 steps in? Well, very basic level. You can use a smartwatch like I have. And like I said, you know, you’ve got a step counted generally on most phones like iOS and Android. So it’s just about kind of looking at your activity for the day, maybe even setting an alert on your device so that you make sure that you get these 10000 steps in a day.
Now, I’m not going to go into today the benefits of the kind of the steps and why it’s 10000. I’ve covered that on other podcasts because today it’s about the devices that we use to track it. So those are the things that you can track from a step perspective. But then when we’re talking about workout, what do you track? When are you actually doing a workout? Well, a very basic level. We can track our heart rate. Okay, so we want to there’s very different heart rate zones that we can work in. There’s a six in total, but primarily we’re looking to track our aerobic and anaerobic heart rate zones so we can do that again with another smartwatch and then we can have a chest strap as well. Just fits just underneath the chest bone and it tracks your heart rate so you can see which zone you’re working. And I think more importantly, it gives you historical data. So you can see over time how fitting you’re getting by the fact that your heart rate for doing the same exercise is lower, which means that it’s becoming more efficient, you’re getting fitter, kind of pumping the blood around the body. And the heart doesn’t need to work so hard. It also can tell you by tracking heart rate, if you have historical data, it can also. Give you an indication as to whether or not you’re becoming sick when you’ve got a virus, if your heart rate is shooting up through the roof and you’re doing the same kind of routine that you’ve done for the last kind of six weeks, but you’ve got a really elevated heart rate that may indicate that you are either coming down with a virus, you know, or you’re getting a cold or you become a bit sick.
So tracking the heart rate over time is really, really important. And again, I think you can have a strap which is connected either to a watch or connected to an app which connects to the chest strap via your via Bluetooth or something called … Plus, it’s just a data protocol that the device is used to connect to something that stores the data. So there’s a product called My Zone, which is really, really good. A lot of gyms use that. I’ve got one of my own straps. I’ve got lots of tracking straps. So that’s basically where you can track your steps and your heart rate. Another real big kind of evolution, I would say, the last couple of years is sleep tracking and sleep tracking is very, very interesting. I wouldn’t necessarily say that is something that you have to do, but the kind of general sounds a bit strange, but the general concept of sleep has been overlooked for years and we’re now coming. It’s now kind of come to a head and a lot more people are talking about it.
There’s a lot more devices on the market. I have an O-ring and if you can see that there and that it just looks like a ring that you wear on your finger. But it actually has some I think they like not LEDs, but some kind of tracking thing inside the ring. And basically it connects to my phone and it tracks my sleep overnight. So it tracks my REM sleep, which is my rapid eye movement. It tracks my deep sleep, it tracks my movement, it tracks my wake, and it gives me a nice little breakdown every morning of how I slept for that night and how long I slept for, because, you know, we might go to bed at 10 o’clock at night and we might get up at six o’clock in the morning. And we perceive that we’ve had a good night’s sleep. Actually, we’re not consciously aware of how restless we are, how deep we slept, you know. And so these devices give us a really good indication as to what’s happening with our sleep. Why is that important? Because if you have poor sleep, it has a snowball effect on other things throughout the day. And, for example, you know, things like if you are sleep deprived, know you are, you lack concentration, but also you will naturally, unconsciously gravitate towards stimulants like caffeine and sugar. So the ordering is something which is really, really good and it tracks a lot of other things as well.
Like you, it has a readiness score so it can tell you whether or not you eat now over a period of time with historical data, whether you’re becoming more and more stressed or if you’re overtraining because your resting heart rate overnight was elevated. And that will give you an indication that maybe you need to back off a little bit and not try so hard so that that ordering is just one product. There’s another product from a company called Woop, which again is a chest strap, and that’s more of a subscription based service where oura ring is. You buy the device for about three hundred quid and then there’s apps as well. I mean, I use an app in addition to the oura ring called sleep cycle and essentially what sleep cycle? It just switches on the microphone on your phone. You put it by the side of your bed and again, it will just track the quality of your sleep throughout the night, and can even show you’ve been snoring and things like that either. I always advocate you switching off your data and your wi fi overnight. You don’t want that in your head for others for other health reasons. So, yeah. So that is sleep tracking is another device that we can use. And this is less of a gadget. I wouldn’t say it’s a gizmo, but it’s still something else that we can use to enhance sleep, and that is blue light blocking glasses.
So blue light blocking glasses basically filter out. Blue light, which helps the body, each tells the body that we’re starting to shut down for the day and the body then goes to produce the hormone melatonin and we need melatonin in order to kind of person to relax, stay and help with sleep. So I use a product from a company called Swansea’s and there’s lots of other products out in the market, red light rising, which is the red light, guys. They’ve also now produced a set of glasses for blue light blocking. And they and
Each company has their own kind of take on the quality of their glasses and different variations. So that’s something else that you can use to improve your kind of sleep quality or what’s being termed now a sleep hygiene and preparing yourself and all of this. Whilst it’s not directly related to actual fitness, it is part of our overall wellness protocol, if you like, and just ensuring that we enhance it and optimizing our health wherever we can and other things that are quite, quite interesting. Now, I mentioned the red light rising that we’ve had the guys on the podcast a couple of times. Is red light therapy now? Red light rising produces a fantastic product and red light therapy has become more and more prevalent now. And there’s so many studies to show the benefits of actually red light therapy for lots of different reasons, from athletic performance to recovery to mood to energy level and a basic fundamental level red light rising they basically have these big panels and you can get them in various different sections. So you can kind of build up your light stack, if you like. And you kind of put them in the corner or put them on the wall when you stand in front of it for five to 10 minutes. And basically that enhances energy production in the body is good in the morning because then switches on the serotonin and we need serotonin to actually get going for the day and it can enhance your energy production.
So check out the guys from Red Light Rising. Yeah, they’ve been on the podcast and like I said, they also do the blue light blocking glasses. So what gadgets are there you know, we’ve covered heart rate, we’ve covered steps, we’ve covered sleep, we’ve covered red light therapy for energy production. And then the other thing, which is really kind of basic, really scales, you know, there’s lots of small scales out there now that you can get which again, connect to your phone, which can show you your weight over time. Now, I’m not a massive advocate of keeping weight because weight is just an overall measurement and lots of other details that you can use in order to determine whether or not you’re reaching your health and fitness goals. And weight is just a big measure. But again, you know, with a lot of these gadgets and devices now, the scales can connect to your phone.
So it can give you historical data over time. And we can use all of these data really to help optimize the ultimate goal. So whilst we’re talking about gadgets and gizmos, you know, they are very, very valuable and they do really just help us have that insight as to how we’re progressing. Really. So Scows is another one. There’s another company that have come out now called Power Dot, which is these cool little pads which connect to your leg, connect your muscles, and it’s driven by an app on your phone. And basically what they do is a pulse electrical pulses through your muscles. And it just goes to help. When you’ve worked out or you’ve gone for a run, it flushes out all the toxins out of your muscles and the lactic acid, and then it helps stimulate blood flow around the muscles so that AIDS recovery. So that’s that’s really, really good, says a company called Powder. I’m not affiliated with them. It’s just another gadget that’s on my radar, so to speak, to to kind of purchase at some point. And then whilst we’re on the topic of recovery, there are a lot of these post guns now that are out where you kind of have a pulse motion and you run it up and down your muscle. Again, similar scenario in terms of recovery. And also you can use those to warm up before you maybe do a workout or you do the run and things like that, so it’s just basically a pulsing gun that you run up and down the muscle to kind of increase blood flow, get the muscles warmed up. And I use a product from a company called … And I use that predominantly for my warm up before run and my kind of recovery, when I’ve come back from a run in order again to flush out that lactic acid and stimulate blood flow to the muscles for recovery.
So the powder on the Thera gun is a kind of stimulation for either athletic performance or recovery. So that’s another good gadget that you can check out. And then what else have we got? Really, that’s really my kind of top kind of gadget that I would recommend that you have a look at. I don’t I’m not suggesting that you perhaps need to actually go out and get them. But as guys, as men, we love a gadget and we love these new things that come out in the market. And you know what? If it motivates you to actually work out because you can buy yourself a new gadget, then, you know, you’ve obviously got to get that part, your wife or your partner, to make sure that you can get buy- in from that. But if that helps get you motivated, then you know what? I’m all for it. So I would say that my top five gadgets really and gizmos are the following.
So No. One sleep tracking. So I’ve got my … And I’ve got my sleep cycle. App number two is steps that counter counting your steps. I’ve got my Garmin smartwatch that I use to track my steps and also to track my heart rate. Number three is heart rate. And something that I didn’t talk about is heart rate variability. What heart rate variability does is that tells you how oscillating your heart rate is. And the more oscillating it is, the less stressed you are. When you start tracking your heart rate variability and you start to get more of a flat line that could indicate that your body is under stress or you are under stress mentally and you may want to consider doing something about that. But there is an app that you can get for heart rate variability. The ordering does track your heart rate variability. And obviously the band that comes with the Garmin can track your heart rate when you’re working out. So there’s two things in number three, really, heart rate and heart rate variability. There is a heart rate variability app you can get for your phone where you put your finger on the camera and it tracks the pulse in your finger to tell you about your heart rate variability. But I use your ring to track my heart rate variability. So that’s number three heart right. Number four, very basic, very simple headphones.
I’m not a massive fan of having headphones on when I’m out running around the bike, but if you’re indoors, if you’re on a train or on your bike or if you’re just doing a workout, then headphones are great. Music has been proven a certain tempo of music to stimulate and to actually reduce the perception of fatigue. So I know that when I wear headphones on the bike, when I’m indoors, I can actually push through those really, really hard, high intensity workouts in an easier way because I’ve got the music stimulating me. So yeah, very basic that one headphones. But you know, you can spend as little or as much as you like on headphones. Really the range is huge to be honest. And then finally is number five. I’ve got, as my Thera gun says, the pulsing gun which can warm up your muscles and obviously help flush out toxins and stimulate blood flow when you’ve done a workout. So those are my top five, four gadgets and gizmos. If you’ve got any questions around specific gadgets and gizmos, them feel free to reach out to me on social media or send an email to [email protected] and I’ll happily kind of give you my view and opinion on the devices that you can use for your health and fitness. So I hope that’s helped. I heard that was interesting, guys, and I look forward to catching up with you on the next episode. Take care.
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