A quick read through the popular press on almost any given day and you are likely to find stories about how modern living is not ideally suited to a fit and healthy lifestyle. This is not a new phenomenon; indeed from the time of the industrial revolution when we first began to automate machines to perform physical tasks previously undertaken by individuals, the notion that technology is eroding our health first began to form.
This idea though has become especially more prevalent in the past thirty years or so with the advent of the personal computer. Many people’s working environments changed markedly with the advent of PCs. Instead of being on their feet and walking around, physically doing their chosen task, many workers now found that they could do the same task while sat in the same place from their PC.
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This, research will tell you, is one of the contributory factors for the declining health of a nation. Our sedentary lifestyles, combined with a generally unhealthy ‘western’ diet that is high in sugars and fats, is leading us towards a health time bomb with instances of obesity and diseases like type-2 diabetes, both on the increase.
Yet it is too simplistic to simply state that technology has been the reason why many more people are not as fit and healthy as they once were. There are many more factors that need to be considered here; the relative ease of fast food (and its relative cheapness) compared to cooking meals from fresh produce, the time constraints faced by people in their everyday life which means they may not have much free time available and of course, this whole notion of technology being the reason why people are more sedentary (http://breastactivestoday.com/).
In fact, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that technological advances have vastly improved the options available to us when we want to adopt a fit and healthy lifestyle and that it is a help, rather than a hindrance, to people seeking to get fitter and healthier. Let’s look at the impact of technology on both of these areas, health and fitness.
Technology and health
How often have you heard it said that a sedentary lifestyle is impacting the nation’s health? That by using the TV remote instead of manually pressing the buttons, or working at a computer rather than on your feet, is the single-greatest cause of health problems nationally?
While these factors may play a small part in the decline of health, there is absolutely no doubt that we are actually much healthier as a nation in many other respects than we were even 10, 15 or 20 years ago and once again, advances in technology have been the driving force behind these improvements.
Advances like the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scanner can now help health professionals get a clear 3D representation of almost any part of an individual’s body from their brain through to their chest – this has allowed health professionals to clearly diagnose a vast range of conditions with greater accuracy and thus saving more lives.
Technology has been utilised throughout every area of the health system to improve it, from mundane uses such as computerizing the medical records of patients (thus making them available at all hospitals, not just the hospital they were treated at), to the development of specialist equipment used across wards, operating theatres, doctor’s surgeries and the like.
The truth is, while some technologies may have been developed to make life simpler and quicker at work or at home (with a resulting knock on in the amount of physical effort we actually perform) there has been a far greater positive impact in the world of health that technology has provided that is, perhaps, all too often overlooked at times.
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Technology and fitness
Far from being an enemy of fitness, technology can be used to help inform, improve and increase the effectiveness of almost any fitness training regime that an individual would choose to follow.
While it is tempting to think that our fitness regime is relatively free from technology, the truth is that this depends very much on the type of fitness training that you elect to undertake (xls medical reviews). If you simply enjoy jogging for example, you may feel that technology plays no part in your training; but remember, your expensive jogging shoes have been specifically designed to enable you to run more efficiently and with less chance of injury; the run tracker device you use to keep track of where you have run, how fast and how far is another example of technology used to enhance fitness training.
Indeed, almost every type of fitness program has examples like this where technology has helped individuals train better for longer; swimming ‘second skin’ suits which improve water flow around the swimmer and thus help them swim more speedily, aerodynamic helmets for cyclists which not only help them cycle more quickly but offer safety against falls on the road. Visit any gymnasium these days and you will often find row upon row of assorted machines, each which can specifically target individual muscle groups, or a specific type of fitness (aerobic, anaerobic).
Some machines, such as cross-trainers for example, are so advanced that they can be programmed to offer its user specific kinds of training by varying the incline and resistance on each cycle to replicate the demands on the body made by different sports.
The truth is technology, health and fitness are not in competition with each other. Technology has played a part in improving all aspects of our life. The real enemy to enjoying a healthy, fit lifestyle is not technology, but in changing people’s attitudes to it and persuading people to opt out of unhealthy lifestyle choices and to use the natural facilities around them, as well as all the available technology, to adopt more sensible, healthier ways of living.