Gear

Tech advances to keep fit, from apps to straps

Tech tools can provide data to keep you fit, or at least aware of your health. New products include the Wellness FX diagnostic service, Omegawave Personal chest strap, Strava Cycling and Run apps, and Bowflex Boost tracking bracelet.

The era of scheduling an appointment and waiting for your doctor or physical therapist to explain your vital signs is coming to an end. "I call it wireless medicine," says cardiologist Eric J. Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego and author of "The Creative Destruction of Medicine."

"With an app and a snap-on module, your cellphone will give you readings 24/7." Whether you are just looking to count steps and calories or are an elite athlete seeking detailed blood work and heart-fatigue ratings to help fine-tune your training and diet, you can turn to the brave new world of personal analysis. Here are four apps, products and services, ranging from basic to sophisticated, that will provide you with the data you crave.

Enhanced blood test

Wellness FX: The service provides highly detailed diagnostics of your blood and consultation time with an expert. After your blood is drawn at a local center, you can check your results on your cellphone or computer.

Likes: It conveniently provides a far more intricate detail of the state of your cholesterol, insulin resistance and liver, kidney, electrolyte, bone and blood health than you get from a normal doctor-ordered blood test. I found the telephone consultation with an expert quite helpful. My basic plan included a 20-minute talk with a nutritionist/strength-and-conditioning expert I selected from the Wellness FX site. He informed me, for instance, that my apparently high cholesterol reading of 242, which tends to alarm my regular doctor, was actually nothing to worry about given a very high HDL of 102, providing a superb heart-protective ratio of 2.4 to 1. He gave a thumb's up to my pseudo-paleo diet but cautioned me to cut back on sugary fruit due to a slightly high hemoglobin A1c number. A so-so vitamin D level indicated that I could benefit from a supplement. Aside from that, he told me that the numbers indicated my diet and exercise regimen was working well. Bottom line: For anyone interested in what is happening with his or her body, it seems to be money well spent.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $199 (Baseline package). More detailed packages run higher. www.Wellnessfx.com


Look into your heart

Omegawave Personal: An electrocardiograph chest-strap sensor and app essentially gauges your readiness for working out. You put it on when you wake up in the morning; it'll beep after 2 minutes, beaming an avalanche of data and a summary of your cardiac output to your smartphone. If your heart is too stressed out, it'll tell you, allowing you to decide to take it slow. Based on technology designed for Russian Olympic athletes, it works by measuring your heart's electrical activity. It is not meant to be worn during workouts.

Likes: Very helpful for data-obsessed triathletes, cyclists and runners. It measures cardiac stress, your adaptation reserves and your recovery pattern, as well as recommending how hard you should work out that day and the maximum heart rate you should achieve during that workout. By allowing you to see the effects of training sessions on your cardiac system, it can help avoid overtraining, a common problem among Type A endurance athletes.

Dislikes: There are occasional data glitches and dropped data. Registering can be a pain.

Price: $129 for the ECG and a $99-per-year subscription. www.Omegawave.com


Racing invisible rivals

Strava Cycling and Run apps: Two separate apps are based on shared competition. As you travel user-created measured segments and routes, your time is logged and compared against every other time you've logged, as well as against everyone else who has ever been there. The result: a giant community motivating one another and competing against one another.

Likes: Very motivating. Stacking up your time against others (and yourself from last week) pushes you to your limits — and past them. I recently set personal records on three mountain-bike routes I've been doing for 15 years. Strava provides map-based, rich visuals and data-driven comparisons of your fitness over time. It's great for scouting routes in other locales while traveling. Compatible with Garmin and other hardware and incompatible with Instagram to post pictures of your run or ride, it lets you share messages, follow other athletes and give virtual kudos.

Dislikes: Feeds obsessive tendencies. Can wreck the fun — turning every ride or run into a hammer session and you into a "Stravaddict" more concerned with times than conversation.

Price: Free. $59 per year for feature-laden Premium subscription. www.Strava.com


Econo fitness band

Bowflex Boost: Simple, inexpensive fitness tracking bracelet made of soft silicone records distance, calories, steps and sleep duration, and syncs the data to an iPhone at about half the price of competing brands. Provides personalized daily targets and alerts users when they get off track

Likes: Easy setup and operation. Download the app, create a profile and sync it with your phone. On-screen see your levels of activity in steps, calories and distance with a swipe displaying sleep duration and start. A quick press of the button on the strap displays your progress toward the day's goals in colors (red is less than 50%; yellow is 51% to 99%; green is 100%). On-screen tabs let you see activity over time by day, week, month and year, and allow setup of your fitness targets and profile. Fully charged, it claims to last 11 days. USB charging dock is included

Dislikes: No Android app or diet tracking (as with FitBit Flex and Jawbone UP activity trackers). It also lacks an alarm vibration feature to wake you up, like the other two. It's only water-resistant to 1 meter, so beware wearing it in the pool.

Price: $49.99. www.Bowflexboost.com


Wallack is the coauthor of "Fire Your Gym!" roywallack@aol.com

health@latimes.com

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