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Guest post by Maria Ramos

5 Tech Tools to Help You Exercise Smarter

Regular exercise is an integral component of any healthy lifestyle plan. And while you might be great at sticking to your workout classes or running schedule, it can be difficult to keep tabs on your physical ups and downs as you progress. The unseen benefits of working out are what motivate most of us in the first place – a clearer mind, a happier heart, and a better sense of self are just as nice if not nicer than leaner muscle tone. But when you want a comprehensive view of your body’s inner mechanics, as well as a good look at precisely where and what you can improve, you’re going to need more than just a pair of old running shoes to get there.

Today, many of technology’s biggest names have recognized the opportunity to merge tech and fitness. From a “smart” yoga mat to a high-tech jump rope, the gym equipment of the future will do it all – except work up a sweat, that’s still your responsibility.

Here are five of the latest innovations from up-and-coming tech wizards:

The Misfit Flash is a wearable band that costs only $50 and comes with a host of features. It can keep track of the steps you take while walking or running, distance traveled and calories burned. Like the popular FitBit and Jawbone, with the Misfit Flash users are able to set exercise goals and monitor their progress over time. With this tool, users can even share their results with friends and compete against them for bragging rights. The Flash is also part of a host of new wearable tools with the capacity to connect to home security systems and other “smart” appliances. Using the accompanying app, it’s easy to access personal health information from any Android or iOS mobile phone, making running both a personal challenge and a competitive sport.

If you enjoy yoga, be sure to check out the SmartMat, which costs about $300 to pre-order and is expected to begin shipping in July. After the initial calibration phase, where the mat gets to know its new user’s own personal body-shape and weight characteristics, it gives a reading with yoga pose feedback. This information can be presented in audio and video form on a smartphone or tablet. The SmartMat achieves its remarkable accuracy through the use of pressure sensors embedded within the mat itself.

By using the Connected Cycle Smart Pedal, riders can make any bicycle into a “smart” bike with high-tech potential. An innovative tool with evident mass appeal, the Pedal achieved double its funding goal on Indiegogo after just four days. Simply replacing existing pedals with Smart Pedals immediately converts any boring bicycle to a “smart” one. The Pedal will keep track of bike ride statistics, which riders can view from any iOS or Android device. There’s also an included GPS feature, which means that if the bicycle is misplaced or stolen, it will be much easier to locate.

Sensoria is also breaking new ground in fitness tech with its “Fitness Socks.” These socks contain sensors that track their wearer’s movements while running and use a lightweight anklet to communicate the results to any iOS, Android or Windows smartphone. In addition to logging distance and time spent running, the Fitness Socks can determine if the wearer needs to make change how they run as well- the socks can show how the runner lands on their feet as well as the cadence of their run. Two pairs of socks, an anklet and a charger will cost $199, and the socks can be washed in a regular washing machine.

Lastly, Tangram is bringing high tech to the humble jump rope with its Smart Rope. It’s used just like a regular jump rope, but it integrates with smartphones to create custom jump routines based upon one’s jumping proficiency and BMI. One of the coolest features of the Smart Rope is made possible by the embedded LEDs: the rope will light up to display number of jumps counted in the air in front of you while you jump rope. This product is available for pre-order at $70 each and comes in four sizes. Tangram expects to begin shipping in September.

It’s becoming clear that the way forward in personal exercise is marked by new developments that make working out fun and informative. In most cases, the actual physical activities performed remain more or less the same as they have been for decades. What’s changing is that it’s becoming possible for ordinary individuals to take charge of their exercise regimens by using in-depth, accurate data and user-specific routines for customized experiences.

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