Pair technology with knowledge, fitness experts say

  Tuesday, January 20, 2015 2:00 AM

Pittsburg, KS

Pair technology with knowledge, fitness experts say

Can technology make us healthier? Fitness experts at Pittsburg State University say the colorful fitness trackers showing up on wrists everywhere may provide information that wearers can use to improve their workouts and daily activities. But most users, they say, probably don’t have the knowledge to make the most of the new devices.

Janice Jewett, an associate professor in PSU’s Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation (HHPR), said she has used heart rate monitors and other technology for years in her classes to help students measure the intensity of their exercise routines.

“I enjoy using the heart-rate monitors in class as not all students have a concept of intensity as it relates to heart rate,” Jewett said. “In other words, someone may think they're working pretty hard by walking briskly but their heart rate may only be at 95 bpm (beats per minute). That number may be well below their desired intensity for maximum cardiovascular benefits. So, I believe tools like these can be very informational.”

Jewett added that many wearers find the technology motivational.

“For example,” Jewett said, “a person might ask themselves if they got their recommended 10,000 steps in a day. A pedometer or similar tool would be able to track this throughout the day. It may serve as motivation for an additional workout later in the day to help the individual meet the minimum recommendation for physical activity.”

Mike Carper, associate professor in HHPR, agrees that personal fitness monitors may provide interesting and potentially helpful information. But, he cautions, unless the wearer understands the targets they’re trying to achieve and the effects of the exercise they’re engaged in, the information may not do as much good as it could.

Carper, who directs PSU’s Applied Physiology Laboratory, teaches exercise physiology and technology and instrumentation in exercise physiology. The lab uses a range of equipment to measure body composition, maximal oxygen consumption, lung function, lactate threshold, power output, diabetes screening, and health and fitness parameters.

Carper said students who come to the lab for testing can use the information they get to develop an exercise routine that includes specific activities that address the unique needs of each individual.

Assistant Professor Cole Shewmake said he received a Garmin GPS watch for his birthday and he enjoys using it, but like the others, Shewmake questions whether most users will be able to make the most of the technology without guidance from a professional.

“I wonder if the average exerciser will be able make use of it other than just knowing (their current numbers),” Shewmake said.

Still, Shewmake thinks the new wearable fitness devices have great motivational potential.

“It gives someone a goal to work towards each day and I believe that is positive,” Shewmake said. “So, if the technology simply gets individuals interested in exercising or just active, then it will be useful!”

For more information about exercise science at PSU, call the HHPR Department at 620-235-4645.



Connect With Us