The value of staying active and fit, both to lower cancer risk and to aid in recovery, is well-documented, with improvements to both physical and mental well-being. Not only can moderate exercise reduce the risk of death by more than 30%, it can reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood, boost self-esteem, and reduce treatment symptoms of fatigue, nausea, pain, and diarrhea. So, how can you help ensure that your activity levels are adequate? One way: technology.
There are all sorts of gadgets, gizmos and devices designed to keep us moving, monitor our activity and even help motivate us to get going. But before you start shopping for a high-tech exercise-related thingamajig, be sure to discuss appropriate fitness and activity goals with your physician.
A fitness or activity tracker is a device for monitoring and tracking fitness-related metrics such as distance walked or run, calories consumed, heartbeat and quality of sleep. There are many different trackers out there, but we have identified a few with good strong reviews. All these trackers work with both iOS and Android operating systems. Prices vary depending on the range of functions and brand. Expect to spend $25 on the low end to $180 on the high end.
- Garmin Vívosport – Step and stair counting, distance traveled, calories burned, sleep statistics, automatic exercise detection, VO2 Max, rep counting for gym exercises, heart rate variability-based stress scores.
- Fitbit Flex 2 – Track steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes. An LED display lights up to show progress toward your daily goal, and automatically tracks how long and how well you sleep, and sets a silent alarm to wake with a small vibration.
- Withings Go – Tracks walking and running, sleep, calories, and even swimming. It can function as a watch and comes with a clip or a wristband, so you can choose how to wear it. It's super simple and runs off a button cell, so it doesn't need charging and the battery lasts up to eight months.
- Moov Now – Ideal for the pool, it offers feedback on stroke type, rate, distance and efficiency, as well as lap times and an overall indicator of pool stamina. Run and cycling coaching and all day step and sleep tracking are also available.
- Xiaomi Mi Band 2 – Heart rate, steps and sleep tracking, smart alarms and incoming call alerts, all for around $20.
According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, participants who used fitness applications (apps) were much more active compared to nonusers and—surprisingly—even had a lower body mass index. Apps can serve as a digital guide, coach and motivator. Some apps are free, others charge on-time fees.
- JeFit (Free) – Input your fitness goals, and what level of fit you are, and several options submitted by personal trainers will come up for you to choose from. They offer animated graphics to help you see how the move should look. Helpful for those new to weights and weight equipment.
- Sworkit (Free) – Pick the type of workout that you would like (strength, cardio, yoga, or stretching) and then choose the amount of time you would like to work out from 5 - 60 minutes. All exercises are done using your body weight with an on-screen demonstration of the moves and a motivating, British voice guide.
- BodyLab (Free) – JLo’s brainchild will help you custom build a fitness and diet plan based on your goals. The workouts are easy and fun to follow, and they also offer animated views of the movements.
- The Johnson & Johnson Official 7-Minute Trainer (Free) – With only 7 minutes and a chair you can get a full body workout, which can include jumping jacks, pushups, wall sit, high-knee running in place, crunches, plank, side plank, triceps dips, and a few other moves. The app coaches you through each move as it comes up in the workout.
- Pocket Yoga ($4.99) – Choose between different practices, different durations and different difficulty levels. It includes an extensive dictionary of poses that is categorized and easily searchable.
Other cool things for working out
As an industry, fitness tech is booming with new products entering the marketplace all the time. Here are just a few things we found interesting.
- Underwater earphones – Add some rhythm and groove to swim workouts with waterproof ear phones.
- Tech wearables – Beyond watch style trackers, high-tech wearables use sensors in shirts, socks, shoes, headbands and other clothing to track motion, form, impact, balance, sleep and a host of other things. See some samples.
- Sleep tech – It seems the fitness industry is very interested in sleep these days – how much you’re getting, what your brain and heart rate are doing during sleep, body movement, and even brain waves. New product offerings include smart mattresses, headbands and sleep pads. Check out some samples from the Consumer Electronics Show.
Exercise and fitness are just one aspect of your cancer journey. For more resources and information about prevention and recovery, browse our blog. For current cancer-related health news delivered to your inbox, subscribe to Sierra Nevada Cancer Center’s Newsletter.