How to keep fit with your iOS device

Keep fit and healthy with your iPhone, iPod and iPad

Usually, when you come across a feature in a magazine about getting fit and healthy, there's a bullying, hectoring undertone. Get up off your backside, seems to be the underlying message, and do some bloody exercise.

Well, you won't hear that here. It's no business of ours how much exercise you take, how few calories you consume every day, or how otherwise healthy you are. Our job is to tell you how your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad can help you get the most out of your life, and that's just what we're going to do here, specifically looking at how your device can help keep you fit and healthy - and hopefully happier as a result.

Another thing we're not going to do is prescribe what apps, kit and techniques you should use; only you - in consultation with your doctor, if needs be - can know exactly what mix of these is right for you.

Our task here is to present you with all the options, and let you make your mind up about which things will work for you. So unlike those other magazines that tell you to get up off the sofa, we're going to tell you to sit down on the sofa and enjoy reading the rest of this feature.

Once you get to the end, you'll see that your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch can help you make health and well-being changes for the better both in big, traditional, sweaty ways, but also in subtle, entirely pleasant ways that shift your behaviour just enough to effect some big-scale changes without having to get totally exhausted or deny yourself a good, balanced diet.

This isn't some pie-in-the-sky promise that you can sit around eating, well, pies, all day and that you'll be fine if you just install a couple of apps on your iPhone; rather, we'll talk about how using your iOS device cleverly can gently coax you into making good choices, everything from deciding to take the stairs rather than the lift, to conventional exercise, and dozens of points in between.

There are lots of reasons that your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad is the perfect companion in helping you get or stay fit and healthy. One of the simplest and yet most important is that, especially in the case of the iPhone and iPod touch, most of us always have ours with us.

If you're doing the thing of counting calories or watching your cholesterol, for example, your results are going to be more accurate and more complete if you can just pull out your device when you have lunch and quickly tap in a few figures directly rather than waiting until you get back to your PC or noting things in a physical diary.

The social, connected nature of these devices is also a boon. Getting encouragement from friends, whether that's them explicitly egging you on or, as with the Nike FuelBand system, seeing how they're doing compared to you and being spurred on through friendly competition, can have a subtle but hugely motivating effect on you.

And, of course, having the always-on internet in your pocket when you have an iPhone or iPad with cellular access can be invaluable when you want, say, to look up the GI value of something you're thinking about eating.

The Wi-Fi or cellular access to the internet isn't the only connectivity an iOS device has, mind you; accessories can connect to the headphone port, can use Bluetooth and, ever since iPhone OS 3 in 2009, can plug into the dock connector that's on the devices' bottom edge. This last point is especially exciting, as it means companies can make terrific medical and well-being add-ons such as glucose monitors for people who have diabetes.