Apps & Gadgets to Boost Fitness

In search of more information for triathlon training than her Fitbit provided, Jeannine Tayler Stack of Northport, a health coach, switched to the Apple Watch two years ago. She made the change because the Apple Watch had a GPS tracker that helped her see how straight she was swimming during her workouts. “It tells me what type of stroke I am doing, how many strokes, my speed and my heart rate, and it gives me a map of where I swam,” Stack says. “And it gives me similar information on my running and cycling workouts too.”

Among the Apple Watch’s useful tools: The Activity app, which challenges you each day to move, exercise and stand for a certain amount of time, and Breathe, which reminds you to take some deep breaths each hour.

Stack also advises her health coaching clients to use the free My Fitness Pal app, logging in all they eat and drink over the course of a few days. “The app takes that information and calculates the calories they are consuming and the percentages of micronutrients,” she says.

Glen Head resident Maryliz Uihlein uses her Fitbit not only to track her exercise but also to monitor her sleep patterns. “It records start and stop times during sleep; it’s shown me I can be in bed for eight hours and actually only sleep for five!”

Uihlein takes this information and adjusts her sleep habits accordingly. “When I haven’t had a good sleep for a few nights, I increase my cardio during the day,” she says. “By working out harder, I physically exhaust myself and sleep better.”

She explains that the sleep function of the Fitbit records light and deep sleep periods, as well as REM sleep. “I use it like biofeedback, and it’s definitely helped me improve my sleep.”

For Port Washington’s Ann Latner, the Fitbit was her preferred app for a while but then she went for something different: the Bellabeat Leaf, which the company calls “health tracking jewelry.” The Leaf is a pendant that tracks your sleep cycles, activity, breathing and menstrual cycles. You can wear it as a bracelet, necklace or clip. Says Latner, “I get compliments on it as a piece of jewelry.”

If meditation is part of your health and fitness routine, check out the Insight Timer, a free app that has millions of users and an enormous range of meditation options, from music to nature sounds to spoken words to chants. Amy Olander of East Northport says she uses it to help her unwind after a hectic day at work or to sleep. “It’s an integral part of helping me be healthy,” she says, “not just in body but in mind and spirit.”