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Exercise Software App Review Series; Walk Tracker Pro

Welcome to my new series exploring technical advancements to help all of us track our exercise progress.  Whether you are an exercise novice or a seasoned athlete, you will benefit from this series.

We begin with IPhone Apps, specifically Walk Tracker Pro which has been my personal favorite for two years now.  It uses a GPS signal to tell me how far I have walked, and I can control my music choices right from that app.  You, of course, need to have your music selection already downloaded to your phone.  Then you may start the music, pause it, or change it right from the Walk Tracker Pro app.

There is a voice that will break into the music to let you know the distance you have traveled, your average pace, and the calories you have burned.  Since this is also tracked on the display, I typically turn off these announcements and just enjoy my music or audio tape.

It contains nice bar or line graphs showing your progress.  It can be used whether walking, running, or cycling but it does not recognize a combination of exercises and records everything under the type of exercise you chose to begin the workout.

Walk Tracker Pro can be used on any IPad, IPod, or IPhone with an iOS (operating system) version 5.0 or higher. Each workout can be saved.  I use that feature to know the distance of each of my routes and about how long they will last.  When I walk or run on my lunch hour, I don’t want to be late getting back.  If I want to add a meditation to the end of my workout, I will look in my history to choose a shorter route.  By default, the app saves the workout by date and time, but you can use any name you wish.  I typically name the workout for the route I took.  For example I will name it “Once around Campus” or “Long way around Campus” or “Short trip around water falls”, etc.

The only complaint I have is that the use of the phone’s GPS tends to drain the phone’s battery even when you are finished using the app.  To get around this, you have to turn off the GPS to disengage it from Walk Tracker Pro.  I typically keep it turned off until I need it again.  This can be done in the phone’s Settings App in the Privacy setting, then turn off Location Services.

I also use the display’s Elapsed Time seconds to count my heart rate. I begin counting my pulse when the seconds read x4 (example; 04, 14, 24, 34 and so on).  I keep counting my pulse until the display reads x0 (10, 20, 30 etc.) which means that I have been counting my pulse for 6 seconds.  Then I add a zero to the back of the number of pulses I counted which gives me my beats per minute (60 seconds). I wish there was a way to record the heart rate but this one does not have that feature.

It even has a graphic display of the route you took which takes advantage of the Pinching zoom-in, zoom-out feature of the operating system.  The display can be viewed either in portrait or landscape mode as well.  You can also sign up with Trainingpeaks.com free, upload your progress and brag about it on Facebook to your friends.  I, admittedly, have never used this feature since I prefer to keep my workouts private.

In reading other reviews, there was apparently problems with versions 14.0 and 14.1.  Some people had trouble launching the app, others report it crashing while in use.  I have used this product for years and have not seen these issues.  After several updates over the years, I am now using version 14.3.3 without any issues.

The app costs a very reasonable $2.99 in the app store which is well worth the money.  I have always found this app to be very accurate in both time and distance and is very easy to use.  If you would like to be successful tracking your progress right out of the gate without much fuss and bother, Walk Tracker Pro is a good app to use.

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This news was posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
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Exercise is Depressions Cure

I recently read an article online at http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Exercise-Depressions-Cure/173327
Titled “Exercise Is Depressions Cure”. My first impression was, “Duh! We’ve know that for years.” But then I started thinking that that opinion might just be arrogance on my part. Perhaps others have not been around the fitness industry as long as I have or had the same experiences I have had. So, here we go again;
This is a typical scenario, although very simplified and it NEVER feels this simple, of the downward spiral of depression;
1. Life is not going as it should;
a. Career is not as it should be. The person is not happy in their work, or they have been laid-off and the bills are piling up. Or . . .
b. Finances are not as they should be. The person has been over-extended financially for quite a while now and can’t seem to see a way out. Or . . .
c. Relationships are not as they should be; Family members are not living up to expectations, loneliness and isolation are setting in, frustration is more common than it was.
2. The person no longer wishes to be engaged in his/her life due to the negative feelings it brings so they begin removing themselves from everything they once did telling themselves, “the people around me are better off without me.”
3. Problems ensue due to inaction.
4. Feelings of isolation, despair, and failure increase
5. Soon we have a situation of the proverbial snow ball rolling down hill gathering more snow and more momentum.
Now we add pharmaceuticals into the mix. Many anti-depressants don’t work at all which increase the person’s feeling of failure, others work no better than a placebo, and they ALL have horrendous side-effects. Compare that against a workout.
I know that the LAST thing you want to do when you are depressed is to get off the couch, come out of the little cave you have made for yourself and go to a gym. It’s stinky, it’s boring, and it costs more money which is already a problem! Ok, so don’t start in a gym. Just take a stroll outside. Ride a bike. Borrow a CD from the Library and match the movements as best you can at home. Why? Here’s why;
1. Exercise pumps oxygen and nutrient to the brain giving it the tools it requires to “think your way out” of the situations which negatively impact your life.
2. The time it takes to exercise allows time for creative thinking; again, allowing you to “think your way” out of your situation.
3. It brings you into contact with fresh air and other people which get your mind off your bad situation giving you a break from it.
4. Exercise pumps the “feel good” hormones like Testosterone, endorphin, and adrenaline to your brain and throughout your body allowing you to feel as though you can conquer the world, . . . or at least face it one day at a time.
Of course, I am not telling anyone to through away their medications. I am saying to add a workout into your weekly routine, and when you start feeling better (notice I said when and not if), then work with your doctor to reduce your medication slowly.
Yes, we, in the industry, have seen this positive affect for years. We didn’t need any study to prove it, but it is nice to see that western medicine has taken it seriously enough to prove it for all of us. Thanks for catching up.