Tuesday, July 23, 2024
Gadgets

Best wellness tech: Fitness game-changers 2023


More often than not, the media’s portrayal of technology is linked with its harmful effects. We spend too much time on screens, which damages our eyesight. We spend too much time gaming indoors, which saps us of vital vitamin D. We obsess over social media, which puts strain on our mental health.


But what is often overlooked is all the good that technology has done in our pursuit of fitter, happier and healthier lives. We now have smartwatches that can alert us when we are stressed, and then offer a breath work program to steer things back on course. There is tech that helps us sleep better, tech that tracks the menstrual cycle and tech that brings high octane, engaging fitness classes into the domestic setting.

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So, rather than curling up in a ball and waiting for the AI-powered cyborgs to take over, we’ve collated some of the best wellness tech items that have changed the game. Whether you want to get a handle on your moods or you are on a quest to build the most powerful cardiovascular system you’ve ever owned, we’ve got you covered.


7 wellness tech items that are an absolute game changer

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2

1. Best fitness tracker tech item overall

Ultra by name, ultra by nature

$774 $799 Save $25

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 brings with it a slicker user experience, thanks to the addition of the latest S9 chip, which means interaction is fast and Siri can be used to a greater degree without connectivity. But in terms of useable, rugged outdoor features, the updates feel very reserved. There are no additional sensors, no increased battery life and very few new hardware headlines to force original Apple Watch Ultra owners to upgrade.

Pros

  • Display is brightest ever
  • On-device Siri is a boon
  • Gesture control works nicely
Cons

  • Battery life still comparatively poor
  • Navigational skills can’t compete with rivals
  • Looks are still divisive

The Watch Ultra tore up Apple’s smartwatch rule book when it arrived on the scene, offering a rugged, titanium-cased beast that lasted longer, tracked more and supported athletic types with a plethora of unique features. The second generation brings with it some minor changes that make the experience even better. The on-device Siri means you can now ask Apple’s voice assistant for your most recent workout stats, or inquire about the quality of last night’s sleep, for example.

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What’s more, Apple has introduced so many fitness features, it’s almost up there with dedicated rivals from the likes of Garmin, Suunto and Polar. Runners get on-device power read-outs (no need for a power pod), while cyclists can use it as a cycling computer, now with the ability to pair with Bluetooth accessories, such as heart-rate monitors and crank-based Bluetooth power meters.

Sure, it’s a tad pricey, but there’s very little out there that does the smartwatch stuff and the fitness stuff quite like the Apple Watch Ultra. It’s a superb all-rounder that will suit most active lifestyles.

Ouraring

Oura Ring Gen 3

2. Best for subtle health tracking

One ring to rule them all

$269 $299 Save $30

The Oura Ring 3 is the best smart ring you can put on your finger right now. It looks great, the data feels reliable and useful, and it’s ideal if you like to do your tracking in a discreet manner. It does come in at a big cost, though – especially with the subscription on top you need to get the most from it.

Pros

  • Discreet tracking
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Packed with sensors
Cons

  • Not great for workout tracking
  • Sensors need to be aligned
  • Easy to miss recharging demands

Although not cheap (even more costly when you consider the additional subscription), our review found that the Oura Ring has completely changed the way we approach fitness trackers. Essentially, it can measure your heart rate, track steps, monitor sleep and advise on recovery, all from a stylish ring that very few will be able to distinguish from a piece of analogue jewelry.

The latest generation comes in a number of styles and finishes, plays nicely with Android and iOS, packs a plethora of sensors that measure things like Sp02 (a measure of your blood’s oxygen saturation), while software can even detect if you are about to get sick.

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Although more of a tool for encouraging rest, recovery and general relaxation, it’s a fantastic option for improving overall health, warning of stress triggers before they have a physical effect and gently encouraging more movement where its needed.

If you’re not into massive smartwatches that crunch elite athlete’s levels of data, Oura could be the perfect halfway house.

PelotonBike

Peloton Bike+

3. Best for at home workouts

The ride of your life

The Peloton Bike and Bike+ are premium pieces of kit with undeniably premium price tags. If you have the space for them, have the money to invest in initial purchase and ongoing monthly cost, then they are an outstanding bit of kit to build into your workout schedule that deliver an exceptional experience.

Pros

  • Premium design
  • Fantastic class options
  • Quiet operation
Cons

  • Expensive to buy and subscribe to
  • Not the most realistic riding experience
  • Shoes and accessories feel cheap

No list of the best wellness tech would be complete without a Peloton product – the company almost single-handedly transformed the way we workout at home by providing slick, interactive classes through stylish equipment.

Although the Peloton Tread is also an excellent product, we heavily recommend the bike for its smaller overall footprint and the fact the workouts involved don’t put as much stress on the joints, bones and muscles.

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Even with the Basic Package, you get the bike, complete with automatic resistance adjustment, a 23.8-inch rotating touchscreen and access (via a monthly membership) to thousands of live and on-demand fitness classes form some of the best trainers in the business.

Heart-pumping, adrenaline-spiking workouts without having to set foot in a gym or studio? The game firmly changed.

Studio Mirro

Studio The Mirror

4. Best for a fitter body built at home

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who is the fittest of them all?

With an attractive price and a reasonable monthly subscription package, The Mirror (formerly from Lululemon) is a great introduction into the world of home fitness mirrors. It lacks a lot of built-in accessories, such as dumbbells, but live trainer feedback via front-facing cameras and real-time performance metrics are built-in.

Pros

  • Looks great
  • Peloton workouts
  • Easy to use
Cons

  • You need to bring your own weights
  • It is a bit bulky
  • No touchscreen

Similar to Peloton, the Lululemon workout mirror broke ground when it offered a seemingly magical personal training experience that emanated from a stylish reflective piece of furniture as it sits in the corner of your bedroom before transforming into an elite level coach to train you in all manner of ways.

Studio has now partnered with Peloton, so it essentially opens up access to an extensive catalog of live and on-demand workout classes. A front-facing camera means you can see friends during live sessions (if you want), while the ability to see yourself means you can follow along with your virtual PT and make sure form is 100 per cent correct.

Nordic

NordicTrack iSelect

5. Best smart dumbbells

Heavy hitters without the bulk

These are the first adjustable dumbbells to feature Alexa connectivity, meaning you can ask utilise vocal commands to swap weights mid-workout. The hefty unit also covers 5-50lbs (2-20kg), replacing 20 traditional sets of dumbbells.

NordicTrack also teams up with virtual training app iFit (requires a subscription), so users can workout alongside real personal trainers thanks to the smartphone or tablet holder attached to the base unit of the iSelect.

Pros

  • Voice controlled weight swaps
  • Solid build
  • Easy to use
Cons

  • These aren?t cheap
  • Bulky unit
  • How useful is voice control?

Strength training is one of the best ways of creating a bulletproof body that will continue to function well into your retirement years. But strength training also typically requires bulky equipment, and anyone keen on the theory of progressive overload will need a variety of weights as their strength increases.

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Thankfully, the NordicTrack iSelect digital dumbbells arrived to save the day, as they offer a weight spread of 2 to 20kg in one compact package. What’s more, the digital selection mechanism allows the user to use Alexa voice control to swap weights, without the need to lift a finger.

The entire system connects to the iFit app for smartphone or tablet, allowing for guided on-demand workouts that connect to the weights in order to track reps and sets.

Whoop4

Whoop Band 4.0

6. Best rest and recovery tracker

A one-man band

Whoop blends into the background, a lifestyle coach designed to feedback on your rest and recovery, guide you to better sleep habits and to make better choices. It’s not a replacement for a smartwatch or a fitness tracker, but for those wanting something obtrusive the Whoop is an interesting choice.

Pros

  • Easy to sleep with
  • Great app
  • Sleek design
Cons

  • Battery life isn’t great
  • Subscription is pricey
  • Not great for athletic analysis

Shunning the usual smartwatch and fitness tracker approach, which tend to push the wearer into doing more physical activity, running further, working harder and generally running the body batteries dry, Whoop 4.0 is for those who want more information on their sleep and recovery.

Having a device that’s physically more compact and easier to sleep in is an inherent advantage – as long as recovery is your primary interest, rather than sports training, in which case you’d be better off with something else.

But Whoop doesn’t want to replace your fitness tracker, and instead wants to work alongside it to give wearers a better insight into what they need to do in order to be ready to train again. Sure, lots of fitness trackers attempt this, but the level of detail Whoop goes into is mightily impressive and it’s so discreet.

Withings

Withings Body Scan

7. Smartest smart scales on sale

An awesome body of work

Arguably the smartest smart scales money can buy, Withings has unleashed a device that can measure more body composition than many rivals. Body Scan can track not just your weight but also segmental body composition, heart rate, and vascular age, letting you get a really comprehensive picture of how your health is looking.

Pros

  • Impressive body composition read outs
  • Easy to use
  • Great accompanying app
Cons

  • Data is overkill for lots of people
  • Price stings
  • Cheaper scales will suffice

Withings has long sought to bring medical grade equipment into the domestic setting, and we feel that the Body Scan is the first device to truly nail this brief. Not only does it offer precise weight data, it also goes so far as to segment the body, revealing to the user exactly where the fat is being stored – or not, as the case may be.

This is achieved by four weight sensors, along with 14 ITO electrodes within the platform and four stainless steel electrodes in the handle, including six-lead ECG monitoring sensors, if that wasn’t enough already.

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The read-outs go into great depth, both on the devices and further still in the accompanying smartphone app, with vascular age and even the quality of the user’s nerve activity measured.

The muscle mass indicator is great for anyone looking to bulk up, as it gives a visual representation of those areas that are responding well to growth (great, keep up the same workout routine) or those that are not (time to switch things up).

Bottom line: What is the fitness tracking essential to have?

It is difficult to pick just one piece of wellness tech from this list, as several grouped together would make a fantastic, high-tech ecosystem for anyone wanting to get a handle on what their body is up to and how to make it better. That said, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is one of the best all-round fitness devices in our eyes. It features a huge number of built-in workout profiles that support some of ther most common activities. What’s more, the app store is packed with third-party applications that can do everything from guiding you into a workout programme to improving your swim stroke. Plus, it monitors sleep and a plethora of other fitness metrics to make sure you are firing on all cylinders.

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Ultra 2

Editor’s Choice

One of the best all-round fitness devices on sale

$774 $799 Save $25

Tough, reliable and packed with all of the sensors most folk will ever need, the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is a fantastic fitness companion and an even better smartwatch.

How did we select these 7 wellness tech items that changed the game?

Having written about fitness and fitness tech for many years, I have personally used all the items on this list. In fact, I’ve lived with some of them for months and continue to incorporate them in my fitness regime to date. Genuinely, the tech found in selection above has helped me to achieve my fitness goals and has impressed me to the point that I’m willing to tell the world about each and every item.

What’s the best wellness tech item for strength training?

That will be the NordicTrack iSelect weights, simply because the compact collection of weights is so versatile. Couple these with a simple weights bench in the home, and you’ll be amazed at the number of exercises you can perform. Additionally, they span 2 – 20kg means you can gradually increase the weight, which is great for building size and strength over time.

Why is recovery fitness tech also important?

Burnout is a very real thing and while many feel the need to throw themselves into a new workout program or fitness regime, it can often lead to premature quitting and even injury. While it’s great to have a device that drives you to improve, it also pays to have something that can warn you when you are pushing too hard. Today’s heart rate sensors can measure tiny variabilities in heart rate, which is a great indicator of overall recovery status. The Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Whoop devices are great examples of those that consider rest, recovery and low levels of stress as important as physical activity.



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