If you’re not using a fitness wearable to track your workouts, the latest exercise technology may make you want to start.
Michael Snyder, PhD, a genetics professor at the Stanford School of Medicine in California who researches wearables, predicts that smartwatches and other wearable tech will dominate in 2022. Other experts agree: Wearable technology was named the top fitness trend in the latest American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) worldwide survey, published in January 2022).
“The wearable space is growing quite rapidly,” Dr. Snyder says. He credits that growth to the fact that people are more aware of and interested in keeping tabs on their health and fitness than ever before. “People are using wearables not only for fitness, but also health monitoring,” he says.
Smartwatches — like Garmin’s latest, featured below — can be used to stream and follow virtual workouts, track your progress, offer recovery tips, and provide other insights about your health status with a tap of your finger.
The other trend in fitness tech that’s likely to continue in 2022 is more connected virtual workouts. While many gyms and fitness studios are open, at-home workout solutions aren’t going away anytime soon. “There’s a lot of concern with the omicron variant,” Snyder says. He says he suspects people will continue to want options when it comes to where they work out. “I think people doing more exercise on their own will continue.”
And in some cases, new and improved connected fitness equipment and community-focused workout apps — while they may
1 Garmin Venu 2 Plus Smartwatch
The latest iteration of the Garmin Venu offers features you’d expect, like workout tracking, heart rate monitoring, and music streaming, plus advanced features that take this timepiece to the next level. A few highlights include animated on-screen workouts you can follow (the watch comes preloaded with workouts, but you can download more from the Garmin Connect app), a detailed activity profile that shows you what muscle groups you worked, a blood oxygen sensor that measures how well your body is absorbing oxygen — this can be helpful to monitor if you’re recovering from COVID-19 or have underlying illnesses like diabetes, lung disease, or heart disease, notes Cleveland Clinic — and a fitness age feature that uses several measures to estimate if your body is younger or older than your chronological age. The Venu 2 Plus enables you to make and take phone calls right from your wrist when paired with your smartphone. You can also leave your phone in your pocket and use voice assistant to send and respond to text messages. Learn more at Garmin.com; $450.
2 Lumaflex Body Pro Red Light Muscle Recovery Panel
The Body Pro is a portable tool that uses red light therapy and infrared light technology to help with post workout muscle soreness. Red light therapy and infrared light technology are two forms of noninvasive light-source treatments sometimes used to treat muscle pain (with a growing body of research to support their use, according to a paper published in 2016 in the Journal of Biophotonics).
The tool is an FDA-cleared class 2 medical device, which means it’s been deemed safe and effective by the agency for its intended use of pain relief and muscle recovery. It’s a waterproof plastic panel about the size of a sheet of paper attached to an elastic strap that you can fit around your waist, arms, or legs whenever you feel muscle soreness or pain. According to the manufacturers, when turned on, the red light penetrates your tissues one inch for pain relief, while the infrared light penetrates four inches for muscle recovery within 10 minutes. You can also monitor your recovery progress in the companion app. Each device comes with a protective case, sanitizer, charger, a short strap, and a long strap. Learn more at Lumaflex.com; $349.
3 NOWATCH Awareable Wearable
Unlike other wearables, this one doesn’t have a screen or send notifications. Instead, the NOWATCH tracks stress, sleep, and activity, connecting with an app on your phone so you can view key data when you’re ready. The watch uses an infrared light sensor (known as photoplethysmography, or PPG) to measure blood flow and provides information about heart health. It also uses a skin conductance sensor that can detect when your skin becomes a better conductor of electricity — one of the ways your body responds to stress. As your skin conductance rises, your body releases cortisol (a stress hormone). The NOWATCH skin conductance sensor measures these changes to gather insights about your stress levels. With this information, the watch uses an algorithm to predict your state of mind up to one hour in advance. No, it can’t predict when a temper tantrum from your kid or a work crisis will send your mood into a tailspin; it will predict based on your current stress levels if you’re likely to feel overstimulated, understimulated, or balanced in the very near future. The device vibrates to alert you to take steps to manage stress when you’re heading off balance. It suggests things a walk or some breathing exercises. Learn more at Nowatch.com; product expected to ship starting spring 2022.
4 CLMBR Connected Climbing Machine
Vertical climbing machines may be the next frontier of connected fitness. The CLMBR features a large-format touch monitor that offers on-demand classes (membership to gain access to classes costs extra) and displays key metrics like vertical feet climbed and workout targets reached. Even with all this data monitoring, the machine’s open structural design won’t disrupt your climbing, according to information reported by the company at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show.
Climbing workouts puts less strain on joints than higher-impact exercises (like running or jumping rope), so they can be a great choice for cardio and full-body muscle strengthening for people with joint or back issues, notes Cleveland Clinic. Buy the machine only or choose from three bundles that include add-ons like a one-year membership to virtual classes, resistance bands, a Bala Beam barbell, and a Bala Power Ring free weight. Learn more at Shop.clmbr.com; $2,799 (machine only).
5 Wondercise Studio App
The Wondercise Studio is an interactive fitness app with a social network. Like other fitness apps, Wondercise lets you stream hundreds of trainer-led workout classes from your TV or smartphone, with original classes added monthly. But this app pairs with two wrist-worn tracker bands (sold separately) that analyze and compare your movements to the trainer’s as you work out, offering instant form feedback. Once you start tracking performance, you can interact and compete with others to nab the top performance score on the leaderboard in every class (measured by how well you match your movements to the coach’s). Plus, up to four users can work out together (streaming a class from the same device) and track their performance, provided everyone has tracker bands. The app is free to download (A VIP membership is available for a $9.99 monthly subscription) and tracker bands will be available later in 2022.
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