New year, new you, and all that rubbish. Yes, it's that time of year when the gyms are full and the cake aisles are deserted. It's not easy to truly improve your health rather than blowing your new year's resolutions inside a week, but technology can help. Read on for our favourite gadgets to help you get fit -- and stay fit.
Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom
Despite the overweight name, the Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom could help you shed the pounds pronto. It's a watch with built-in GPS that tracks your runs and records them to Nike+, the social network for runners.
The SportWatch looks good enough to wear even when you're not running, with its black exterior and subtle neon green accents. We had plenty of admiring comments, especially when we showed off the artfully hidden USB connection. It isn't a big bulky thing either.
The screen is a subtle two-tone affair, which can display the time or, when you're running, information like the distance covered, calories burned or your pace.
When you finish each run, plug the watch into your computer's USB port and your run data, like distance, pace and calories burnt, will automatically appear in your profile. You can keep this to yourself or share it with running buddies to motivate each other. Hit a big milestone and a video will pop up of a celebrity encouraging you to keep it going.
If you're running on a treadmill, you simply attach the separate Nike+ sensor -- about the size of a coin -- to your shoe, and it will record the same data. You can also use the Nike+ app on your phone. Unfortunately you can't enter a run to Nike+ manually, so if the app crashes, your efforts will go unrecorded.
The great thing about the watch is that it's really easy to glance at your wrist to check your progress as you run, to ensure you stay at the right pace and see how far you've got to go. And when you're done, you get a nifty graph of your pace throughout your run on your profile. That makes it easy to check your form, so you can see if you're starting too fast, dipping in the middle or failing to keep a consistent pace.
The Nike+ SportWatch GPS Powered by TomTom is available now for around £150, so it isn't cheap, but it's a worthwhile investment if you're a regular runner or are in training. Alternatives include the Android-powered Motorola MotoACTV or Adidas MiCoach.
The Fitbit Ultra takes fitness beyond just running. It's an inconspicuous black clip that you attach to your pocket or top, which tracks your overall fitness ins and outs.
Like most people, we were surprised at how little walking we do, so that initial shock alone is enough to get us up from in front of the computer and strolling about.
Tapping the Fitbit Ultra displays the number of steps you've stepped, and with it the distance you've walked and the number of calories burned. We may be cynical about gamification -- turning everyday activities into a game, with goals and incentives -- but we did find ourselves striving to hit those magical 10,000 steps each day.
Like the SportWatch, the Fitbit Ultra charges and records data via a USB connection to your computer. As with Nike+, you can record your exercise in an online profile at Fitbit.com, but Fitbit goes further -- you can track different kinds of exercise and what you eat too.
This is the clever bit. Record your meals and snacks, and Fitbit counts up the calories. Set a daily calorie intake limit and Fitbit will even tell you how many more calories you're allowed in a day. It sounds nagging, but the site is cleanly designed and friendly, with colourful counters and cheerful pie charts. Mmm, pie... stop that!
Foods you've eaten are saved so it's easy to enter your favourite nibbles quickly. As a service that's new to the UK, we found most of the saved foods were American. This meant having to manually enter many British comestibles, but that will improve as more Brits get fit with Fitbit.
The Fitbit Ultra is available now for £80.
Zeo Sleep Manager
Good health isn't just about exercise and diet. Most of us are keenly aware that we don't get enough sleep. But it wasn't until we slapped on the Zeo Sleep Manager as we clambered up the wooden hill to Bedfordshire that we realised just how short of kip we really are.
The Zeo Sleep Manager is a pebble-sized sensor that attaches to an adjustable headband and records how you're sleeping. It sounds distracting, but we quickly stopped noticing it and dropped off.
Data from the sensor is beamed to an iPhone app, which charts how you're sleeping. Your profile shows how long you're sleeping for and whether you're in deep or REM sleep. The results can be eye-opening -- after you've rubbed the sleep from your eyes that is. Once again, the simple act of using the gadget makes you think more about your habits and try a little harder to increase your beauty sleep. Lord knows we need it.
How are your new year resolutions going? Are you using gadgets to feel good? Jog on to the comments or our Facebook page with your tech and fitness tips.