From gadgets that encourage you to exercise and track your progress, to websites that motivate you, technology offers a number of ways to help you get fit. We've rounded up our pick.

We all make resolutions in January, and one of the most popular is to get in shape. But if the thought of heading to your local gym to pump iron with lycra-clad beauties fills you with dread, then fear not.

There's actually a number of gadgets and websites that can help you get in shape and encourage you to stick to a healthy eating plan because, after all, getting fit is about more than just exercise, its about diet too.

We've rounded up our pick of the gadgets and websites available to ensure that 2009 is the year you really do keep on track. Also see our 7 great ways technology can help you keep fit feature for even more ideas!

Wii Fit with Balance Board

Nintendo's Wii Fit is a home workout program (disguised as a video game) that runs on the popular Wii gaming console.

Wii Fit lets you choose from 48 activities in four main categories: yoga poses, strength training, aerobic exercise, and balance games. To perform the games/exercises, you stand, sit, or lie on the special wireless Wii Balance Board, which resembles a double-wide bathroom scale, and comes bundled with the game.

Four pressure sensors inside the board determine where your feet are, monitor your centre of gravity, and check your weight. Using the board, the Wii Fit calculates your body mass index (BMI), records other data, and helps guide you through the process of hitting your goals over time.

Visually, the Wii Fit games use cartoon figures similar to the ones that appear in other Nintendo Wii games. The game lets you create these characters roughly in your own image (hair colour, facial features, and so on) if you like. Setting up the game for playing takes about 10 minutes the first time around. You can choose from activities such as hula hoop, ski slalom, ski jumps, tightrope walking, boxing, and dancing, so it's pretty easy to find something you like doing; that way, you'll soon forget that you're 'working' out.

Shaun White Snowboarding (Wii)

One of the coolest and most engaging games for the Wii Balance Board is called Shaun White Snowboarding from Ubisoft (White is an Olympic gold medalist snowboarder). The game drops you into a variety of different snowboarding environments with a number of different skill levels. As you're out carving it up on the virtual slopes, you can feel the weight and shape of the mountain - the rocks, ice spots, bumps - underneath your feet.

Even though you might be having so much fun to resize it, the game forces you to exercise the hell out of your leg muscles and (to a lesser extent) your upper body muscles. You'll break a sweat. Between rides, you can pal around with your buddies in a virtual world. You can also spend as much time as you want fashioning the look of your avatar, and selecting accessories such as parkas and snowboards for it to wear.

For more games news, reviews and free games downloads, see Games Advisor

NEXT PAGE: Even more gadgets that will help you get in shape

  1. Get fit and have fun without going near a gym 
  2. Even more gadgets that will help you get in shape
  3. iPhone apps to help you get fit
  4. The case for the iPod shuffle
  5. Websites that educate and motivate

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From gadgets that encourage you to exercise and track your progress, to websites that motivate you, technology offers a number of ways to help you get fit. We've rounded up our pick.

Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009 (Wii)

We've heard good things about Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009, a game that uses the Wii console with the Balance Board. Michaels is a fitness expert who features on US reality TV weight-loss show called The Biggest Loser. The game features 11 activities (with light, medium, and hard intensity levels) and offers durations ranging from 10 to 60 minutes.

They're categorised in four major workout modes: Weight Loss, Strength Training, Intervals and Hill Climb.

You also get fitness, diet, and lifestyle tips from Michaels herself. In keeping with the TV show, multiple players can compete against each other, cycling through the various workout regimes to see who burns the most calories at the end of the game. Like Wii Fit, Fitness Ultimatum provides a wealth of exercise and progress data (distance, time, intensity levels, and more) throughout the workout. Its currently only available in the US, and no UK launch dates have been released.

Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS device

Okay, now for some real-world exercise. The Garmin Forerunner 405 is the svelte descendant of a line of larger, forearm-encircling models that have long pleased runners interested in GPS-based stats like speed, distance, and pace. In our tests of a Forerunner 405 equipped with an optional heart-rate monitor, the unit offered speedy satellite acquisition, accurate vitals monitoring, and lots of detailed running data. The device's touch-sensitive bezel can be problematic, and its battery duration isn't the greatest, but the watchlike 405 should be a great motivational tool.

The Nike+ iPod Sport Kit

Nike and Apple have teamed up to integrate the running shoe with the audio player to create the Nike+ Sport Kit - a simple yet powerful system for keeping you informed and inspired during your workouts. The kit includes a pedometer that fits inside 'Nike+ ready' shoes and wirelessly reports your time, speed, and distance via your iPod nano.

You can opt to have this information appear on your nano screen; or you can obtain an audible update of your time, distance, and speed by pressing the center select button on your nano. What I like best about the system is being able to put that special super-psyche-up song in my mix, and select it at the point in my workout where I need an extra blast of adrenaline to complete the final brutal few minutes of my cardio.

To get the whole experience, you'll need to have the following pieces in place: an iPod nano, a computer, a pair of 'Nike+ ready' shoes (usually priced at around £70), and maybe an armband to hold the Nano and receiver. So it's not a cheap option.

Visit Digital World for the latest home entertainment news and reviews

NEXT PAGE: iPhone apps to help you get fit

  1. Get fit and have fun without going near a gym 
  2. Even more gadgets that will help you get in shape
  3. iPhone apps to help you get fit
  4. The case for the iPod shuffle
  5. Websites that educate and motivate

From gadgets that encourage you to exercise and track your progress to websites that motivate you, technology offers a number of ways to help you get fit. We've rounded up our pick.

The best health/fitness iPhone apps

If you own an iPhone, you have access to a legion of apps designed to turn your device into a powerful health and fitness aid. The iPhone App Store offers hundreds of independently developed applications; here are five of the best ones.

Apple iPhone 3G review

iPump Total Body

iPump has developed some 20 fitness apps that the iTunes store sells, but Total Body (£1.79) is perhaps the least specialised of these, and thus the best to start with. iPump gives you speech, text, and image presentations of preset workouts, each one including some cardio for warm-up and warm-down. When you're done with a workout, the app notes the accomplishment and keeps track of which ones you've already completed. The idea is to cycle through all of the workouts so that you never get bored.

RunKeeper

RunKeeper Pro (£5.99) is a Nike+ app that works with your iPhone. It tracks your runs using the iPhone's GPS radio, and then displays your jogging or walking pace, your distance, and your time. It can even spit out a nice bar graph displaying your speed over a given time period. After your run is over, you can log on to the RunKeeper website (www.runkeeper.com) to see your run displayed on a Google map.

iSpinning

iSpinning is a great (and free) little app for road biking and mountain biking workouts. It uses a growing number of body sensors to track stuff like your heart rate (current, average, and max), biking time, calories burned, speed, distance, and power. You can customise the app's dashboard on your iPhone to display just the metrics you care about.

HangTimer

This £5.99 app lets snowboarders, skiers, and skateboarders measure their jumps. It identifies the exact length of time they were airborne and the exact GPS location where the jump took place. HangTimer also delivers snow reports, detects ski resorts, and maintains a list of your 10 best jumps.

Quitter

Smoking and fitness, of course, don't mix. The free Quitter app keeps track of the number of days you have not smoked a cigarette, along with the amount of money you've saved by removing cigarettes from your budget.

Visit Mobile Advisor for the latest mobile phone news, reviews, tips & tricks, as well as PC Advisor's unique Apple iPhone 3G Spotlight 

NEXT PAGE: The case for the iPod shuffle

  1. Get fit and have fun without going near a gym 
  2. Even more gadgets that will help you get in shape
  3. iPhone apps to help you get fit
  4. The case for the iPod shuffle
  5. Websites that educate and motivate

From gadgets that encourage you to exercise and track your progress to websites that motivate you, technology offers a number of ways to help you get fit. We've rounded up our pick.

MP3 Players: The case for the iPod shuffle

While your choice of MP3 player is largely a matter of taste, the iPod shuffle can function as a great, though basic, MP3 player for working out. It's really small, and it's easy to clip to almost any piece of clothing you may be wearing. In fact, once you've attached it, you're barely aware that it's there.

The weakness of many small players is their deficienct volume output and sound quality. But the iPod shuffle wins here, too, especially if you upgrade to better headphones from the ones that ship with the player.

Finally, fitness trainers will tell you that one of the keys to a top-notch workout is 'shocking your system'. No, the Shuffle won't give you an actual electrical shock, but you'll never know what part of your mix is coming up next on the Shuffle; as a result, the really rocking songs in your mix come up unpredictably, causing an uptick in adrenaline flow and a spike in your performance.

Don't like running or lifting? Try dancing

If you don't like running or playing sports of any kind, there's still hope for you, in the form of Dance Dance Revolution or DDR. What started out as a Japanese arcade game back in 1988 has migrated to the living room and now is one of the most popular gaming genres.

It has an obvious aerobic aspect, too: you stand on a dance pad and try to mimic the moves (slides, bumps, grinds, stomps, spins, and shimmies) being executed on the screen while staying on the beat. The game awards you a score based on how well you dance to the music.

There are many versions of DDR with different songs and styles, and most have an 'exercise mode' that tracks the number of calories you're burning while you dance. An 11 stone person burns an average of 16 calories per song while playing the latest Dance Dance Revolution game, the makers say. So a person could burn around 640 calories in one hour of dance-dance-revolting, versus about 500 calories in an hour of jogging.

Visit Digital World for the latest home entertainment news and reviews

NEXT PAGE: Websites that educate and motivate

  1. Get fit and have fun without going near a gym 
  2. Even more gadgets that will help you get in shape
  3. iPhone apps to help you get fit
  4. The case for the iPod shuffle
  5. Websites that educate and motivate

From gadgets that encourage you to exercise and track your progress to websites that motivate you, technology offers a number of ways to help you get fit. We've rounded up our pick.

Websites that educate and motivate

FitDay
This site helped me work off 10 pounds by forcing me to report honestly the foods I was eating every day and their calorie counts. No more delusional fits of denial ('That donut couldn't have been more that 75 calories!'). FitDay isn't the only site that does this, but the breadth and depth of its food information and its easy-to-use layout lift it above the rest.

RealAge
Fill out a health questionnaire at this site, and it will report your 'physical age' (the age of your body), which you can then compare with your chronological age. If you're in good shape, your body may be 35, even though your calendar age is 45. Or vice versa, if you aren't fit. Either way, the site produces a detailed health plan to lower your physical age.

SparkPeople
SparkPeople offers a smorgasbord of nutrition, health, and fitness tools, plus support from experts and a large social network to supply empathy, new fitness ideas, or advice. The site also provides interactive tools such as fitness trackers and detailed meal plans (also free). Finally the site has a great app for the iPhone, so you can check in with the site while you're at the grocery story or the gym.

I hope that at least one of these tech products proves intriguing enough for you to try. Sometimes all it takes is one thing - in this case a faithful tech ally - to help you make the right choice between staying rooted to the couch and getting up and getting your game on.

Good luck and good health!

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  1. Get fit and have fun without going near a gym 
  2. Even more gadgets that will help you get in shape
  3. iPhone apps to help you get fit
  4. The case for the Shuffle
  5. Websites that educate and motivate