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4 Digital Tools to Convert Desk Dwellers into Fitness Fanatics

Tue, April 3, 2012

They say a person’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time—pills or stairs.

Desk jobs are notorious for weight gain, back pain and other health problems. But here at Hanson, digital innovation is our middle name. So it is no surprise that digital and fitness have formed a healthy (pun intended!) bond. We spend a lot of time at our desks creating digital experiences, but we’ve also embraced the healthy lifestyle concept in numerous ways.

For example, when I arrive at the office every morning, there is always a lavish spread of (free) fresh fruits in the employee cafe. Then, around 11:30 every day, a mountain of fresh vegetables and healthy snacks appears. Some good-natured inter-office competition has begun with the launch of our Hanson “Biggest Loser” Contest. We can get monthly weigh-ins with our onsite health coach. And with the warmer weather, the best breaks throughout the day are those in which “Hansonites” take to the wooded trails outside of our complex. Sure, we take our smartphones with us—but it’s a merger of nature and technology!

Being immersed in the digital space all day has made it natural for me to look to digital resources for help, too. Throughout the day, I now reach for four different digital fitness tools that have changed my life for the better.

1. StumbleUpon: Fitness Interest

StumbleUpon allows users to discover articles, photos, videos, and sites that are tailored to the user’s personal interests. I love the “fitness interest” on StumbleUpon because it generates thousands of fitness-related topics such as various exercises for weight lifting and articles ranging from recipes and healthy eating to why walking is really beneficial. If you aren’t convinced yet of why you need to get away from the desk, read this article about how exercise makes you smarter by giving your brain extra energy—I found it on StumbleUpon!

2. Twitter Account: @EatThisNotThat

This Twitter feed was developed from a Men’s Health column and has been featured on Oprah and Dr. Oz. By following this Twitter account, I have received insight to countless restaurant and grocery store swaps that have the potential to save me thousands of calories a week. Over 300,000 followers on Twitter are benefiting from the ingredient swapping tricks, “best practice” meals and various articles that @EatThisNotThat posts daily. Here’s a recent tweet: “BEST BREAKFAST @ Au Bon Pain: Large Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal + Small Fruit Cup = 440 calories & 10 g fiber!” Who can’t use tips like this for healthy eating on the go?

3. Urban Active App

This app has removed any excuse I’ve ever had to miss a fitness class or skip out on the gym. The Urban Active App syncs the fitness classes I want into my Outlook calendar. It also provides all locations and hours of operation, plus many other features. Having the ability to sync my calendar with my fitness schedule and find the closest gym eliminates the “I forgot” or “it isn’t convenient” excuse. Check to see if your local gym offers a similar app.

4. Nutrition Apps to Track Caloric Intake

A healthy lifestyle is 70% diet and 30% exercise. There are countless free and paid apps that can help you track your diet throughout the day. Several apps also have restaurant features and bar code scanners in order to get a more accurate representation of your caloric intake. Being able to track what I am eating really puts healthy eating into perspective as I can track how much progress I have made

My favorite of these apps is “My Fitness Pal,” which allows me to track my daily calories, exercises, and vitamin and water intake. It also shows the progress that I am making on my weight loss goal, and instructs me on how many calories I need to be eating per day in maintain that goal. In the month that I’ve been using this daily, I have already lost weight.

So it’s become a lifestyle for me to grab fresh fruit in the morning on the way to my desk, snack on veggies throughout the day, and head to the gym after work—all while using my digital resources to track progress and inspire action.

My lifetime goal is to be the healthiest I can be. What about you? What fitness tools (digital or otherwise) are helping motivate you to be more active?