This article was published on December 27, 2011

In 2011: How Technology Shaped Health and Fitness

In 2011: How Technology Shaped Health and Fitness
Courtney Boyd Myers
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Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and .

What is fitness? The first definition of fitness is: “health”. Health is defined as “the general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness and vigor: good health; poor health.”

At The Next Web, we’re a mixed bunch. We’re avid runners, devoted yogis, health nuts, coffee addicts, smokers, drinkers and some of us just like to sit around blogging in our boxers– but we can all appreciate the deep shift going on right now in the world of health and fitness. From iPhone apps to cyborg visions, technology, alongside education, is helping to shape the future of humanity’s health. Check out a healthy selection of 2011’s best articles about health and fitness.


The Future of Fitness and Health

This is our seminal post on the future of health and fitness, which promises massive data aggregation, social elements and convenience. While it’s fascinating to track your weight, your height, BMI, running patterns and your caloric intake, future intelligence will rely on much more than that. It will know the history of your injuries, your genetics, your complete biometric data and not just about your activity today but also how external conditions play their part such as your geographic location, weather patterns, your social graph and what music you’re listening to. In the future, you’ll be able to correlate across all these different categories for a truly, holistic report on your health. We meet the companies taking us there. Read the full story here

How a Geek Lost 35lbs and Got Fit with the iPhone

Throughout my days as a young geek-about-town I retained a rail thin physique due to the furnace that served me as a body. But, all good things must come to an end. In my early 20s I suddenly began to gain weight and the trend wasn’t helped by the fact that I was working largely sedentary jobs. This leads us to the topic at hand, how a geek stays fit after his body’s metabolism adjusts to life in its 30s and beyond. Read the full story here

How mobile apps and gadgets will change your health

We have some very healthy people around here at TNW. Courtney Boyd Myers is a fan of bending herself into unnatural positions and calling it yoga, Zee appreciates traveling great distances on foot and ending up in the same place he started. Some call it running. Joel Falconer and I? We call it madness. For Joel and I, lacking the time, motivation and desire to “feel the burn” has turned us toward something more along the lines of “what’s next” instead of “what’s now”. For that, I’d like to offer some ideas about what we’ll see in the next couple of years as mobile technologies continue to pair with traditionally sedentary fields of practice such as healthcare. Read the full story here

Entrepreneurs: 10 tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Whether it’s running, biking, swimming, yoga or just daily meditation, setting aside time for your health is so crucial to a balanced lifestyle. But when you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, how can an entrepreneur fit it all in? Read the full story here.  

9 Inspiring Videos About Health and Fitness

We take an in-depth look on the future of fitness and the companies that are taking us there. We dug up 9 inspiring videos that range from hilarious to serious, from geeks to jocks, from the past to the present. Read the full story and watch the videos here.   

A t-shirt that analyzes your sleep

There have been many apps, devices and contraptions designed to help you track your sleeping patterns throughout the night, but most require you to attach some kind of monitoring device, such as a wrist or head-band. Not any more – step forward the Somnus Sleep Shirt. The Sommus Sleep Shirt is a t-shirt – you wear it to bed in place of your normal bed garment. Except this t-shirt is embedded with thin, flexible respiration sensors that monitor and measure breathing as the wearer moves around in bed. Read the full story here.

When it comes to cancer, sharing can be the best medicine

Five years ago, you didn’t broadcast the fact that you had cancer. Some people can’t even say the word cancer out loud. It wasn’t what people wanted to hear, it wasn’t what you wanted to say, and it certainly wasn’t something you’d think would help your road to recovery if it were to affect you directly. But that’s no longer the case. Read the full story here.   

Why joining a fitness social network can actually get you to the gym

We all love social networks, right? We’re practically addicted to them — as a matter of fact, if most of us would only spend as much time exercising as we browse social networks, our health problems would be gone. There’s a new social network in town called SixReps and it brings a whole new social networking aspect to fitness. Question is, would it make you move from your PC to the gym? Read the full story here

This gym makes you pay more when you DON’T go

Gym-pact is the brain child of Yifan Zhang and Geoff Oberhofer, who thought of an effective way to motivate people to visit the gym regularly. According to Zhang, one of the problems is that most members see gym membership fees as money spent, or “a sunk cost, especially if you pay at the beginning of the year.’’ Read the full story here.

Fitocracy, the social network for fitness, joins 500 Startups and hits 75K users

Fitocracy is a New York City startup that’s building a gamified social network around fitness. We first wrote about Fitocracy in our recent report on The Future of Fitness, in which we interviewed founders Brian Wang and Richard Talens, who used to be “really out of shape, video game addicts”. Talens was “super fat” and Wang was “super skinny”. While in college, they realized they had to make a lifestyle change and thus became “addicted to fitness”. Inspired by their experience, the two started building a new platform that tracks workouts and turns personal fitness into a social game. Read the full story here

Could this be the key to getting a workout at your desk?

A company named LifeBalance Station has combined the notion of a standing workstation with an elliptical machine, giving us the best of both worlds. The movable desk can go from a standing workstation to a sitting one and also pair that with what appears to be a rather comfy chair…that has an elliptical machine for the foot rests. Read the full story here.   

Strohl Medical: Helping 800,000 people per year survive strokes

Strohl Medical is pushing boundaries that nobody has yet in bringing an EKG machine for stroke to the market. The EKG is a proven, trusted technology used in the detection and treatment of a heart attack for years, and yet no such equipment has ever been made for a stroke, leaving doctors and medical staff to what amounts in many cases to a guessing game. Read the full story here

Keeping a Lifelog: The Definitive Guide

Keeping a lifelog is a commitment, and unless you find a method that really suits you, you’re bound to forget all about it very quickly. So why keep a lifelog? There are lots of reasons to start this practice. For one, it’s a great way to look back and see how you’ve spent your time, and preserve the moments that matter most to you. But it’s not just about nostalgia. You can also analyze how you spend your time, and see what changes you need to make to your lifestyle. Lifelogging has the potential to be a great self-improvement tool as long as you commit to it and track the daily progress in your work or private life. Read this awesome post here

6 ways to remain healthy whilst working from your desk

In modern workplaces, the chances are you will perform your daily duties from behind a desk. Gone are the days of conversations by the water-cooler, that’s been replaced by email and instant messaging. In fact any task that required you to get up from your desk has likely been stopped in the interest of reducing the time spent away from your computer. Nothing beats getting up from your desk and stretching those legs, but if you have to spend an inordinate amount of time at a computer and need ways to stay healthy whilst doing so, we have you covered. Read our full story here.

Humanity Plus: How Transhumanism Could Change the Human Race

Transhumanism, as it’s known, is the process of augmenting ourselves with advanced technology; the point where the technology isn’t merely an extension of ourselves — like your smartphone probably is — but a part of ourselves. In shorthand, futurists refer to transhumanism as H+, or humanity plus. In just two characters they make the claim that technology can make us better than we are. Read the full story here.

Also check out a selection of our Nerd Fitness posts, a new series on The Next Web, in partnership with Steve Kamb.


RunKeeper’s Health Graph API is now open to the public

RunKeeper had its humble beginnings in Boston, Massachusetts as a simple running app nearly 3 years ago. Since then, it’s managed to attract a massive user base: 6 million fitness enthusiasts and counting on iOS, Android and Windows platforms. This summer, RunKeeper became a platform, not just an app, and began to built “The Health Graph” which is much like Facebook’s massive “Social Graph”. The Health Graph allows 3rd parties to build applications on top of a massive amount of correlated health data. In August, RunKeeper’s Health Graph API opened in public beta, meaning it is open to all developers and requests to access it are no longer needed. Read the full story here.   

AOL’s Steve Case invests in health graph startup RunKeeper

Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, RunKeeper announced a $10 million round led by Spark Capital’s Bijan Sabet (invested in Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, Boxee), with participation from existing investor OATV (the venture arm of O’Reilly Media) and one particularly savvy, new investor: AOL’s co-founder and Chairman, Steve Case. This is in addition to its $1.1 million Series A round from last November. Read the full story here.

Google Health has six months to live, so now who’s going to disrupt healthcare?

Sad news reached us in June that Google is to close its Health service. While the company says that it simply failed to gain enough traction to be sustainable in the longterm, to me it doesn’t bode well for the future of healthcare. Google Health was designed to let individuals manage all their own healthcare information, set health targets, create custom trackers for things like amounts of sleep or caffeine intake, share health information with people who need it and potentially connect their profile information to devices and services via an API. In short, it was an open platform for health information and care, and it had the potential to revolutionize an entire industry. Read the full story here

Gesture-based video technology arrives at your local gym

Read the full story here.

Researchers mine Twitter data to understand America’s health

Two computer scientists from John Hopkins University, Baltimore developed a special search filter to identify 1.5 million health-related tweets published between May 2009 and October 2010. The duo then analysed these tweets to find that Twitter is a useful source of information about public attitudes to health. Read the full story here

Mark Zuckerberg announces he’s only eating meat he kills himself

In an interview with Fortune’s Pattie Sellers, Zuckerberg says from now on he’ll only be eating meat from animals he has killed himself. “I’m eating a lot healthier foods. And I’ve learned a lot about sustainable farming and raising of animals,” he said. “It’s easy to take the food we eat for granted when we can eat good things every day.” Read the full story here

Do you run, cycle or walk to work? There’s a new type of members club just for you

Founded by cyclist commuter Piers Slater, H2 is a club located in Soho, London with an awesome twist. Founded with commuters who run, cycle or walk to work, H2 Soho is the first club of its kind in the city, and the first of many to come. Read the full story here

UK government to outline major ‘open data’ push for travel and healthcare

As part of Chancellor George Osborne’s Growth Review announcement today, the anticipated gloomy forecast for the UK economy will be juxtaposed against the government’s ‘world-leading commitments’ to open up public sector data. This will be with a view towards enhancing travel, healthcare and, ultimately, helping to drive economic growth and boost jobs in the UK. Read the full story here

NHS patient data ends up on Facebook. But how serious is the latest data debacle?

In October, the NHS was facing one of its toughest challenges since the UK’s publicly-funded healthcare system was set up in 1948 – to stay public, or go private…that is the question. Those in favor of going private will be all over the latest data debacle to emerge, with a study showing that patients’ personal details are ending up on Facebook and other social networks. Indeed, the report found that confidentiality of NHS records is breached five times a week. Read the full story here

Mobile health has huge potential in the Middle East, industry study says

The mobile industry is on the rise in the Middle East, and while the e-commerce sector is coming to life in the region, with countless group buying sites, online malls and flash sales sites, one area of concern that has been neglected is the mobile health industry. According to a report compiled at the UAE’s Mobile Show earlier this year, the one sector that respondents overwhelmingly believe that the mobile industry can have a positive effect on was the health sector – 93% of them believe that the mobile health industry can improve the quality and availability of healthcare in the Middle East. Read the full story here

DrChrono is building a health care revolution on the iPad

DrChrono addresses the complexities and critical needs of today’s healthcare environment by providing a multi point solution, mobile health point-of-care apps plus access to our cloud web based Electronic Health Record platform. The company was founded in January 2009 and released its feature product- the DrChrono iPad app for doctors one week after Apple started selling the iPad. Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, the famous programmer (inventor of Bayesian spam filters) has called DrChrono “the SAP for doctors.” Read the full story here

Doctors using drchrono’s iPad app can now receive $44K from the government

In July, drchrono announced that its free iPad app had received official certification that will allow doctors to receive up to $44,000 in government assistance in exchange for using the app as an electronic medical records platform. This certification establishes drchrono as the first native EHR on the iPad to be certified for ‘Meaningful Use.’ Through the HITECH Act, the government allocated $19.2 billion dollars to help move U.S. doctors to electronic medical record systems. We also learned that 4 out of 5 Doctors plan to buy an iPad in the next yearRead the full story here.

An American robs a bank of $1, just for free health care in jail

This summer, James Verone robbed an RBC bank. He had no gun but handed the teller a note that said, “This is a bank robbery, please only give me one dollar.” Then he said, I’ll be sitting here on the chair waiting for the police. So, why did he do everything he could to get arrested? He says he did it for medical reasons. Verone has a growth on his chest, two ruptured discs and a problem with his left foot. At 59 years old, no job and a depleted bank account, he thought jail was the best place he could go for medical care and a roof over his head. Read the full story here

UK mobile network 02 nets over £300k for Fitness First in location-based marketing campaign

O2, the second-biggest mobile phone network in the UK, has revealed that a mobile marketing campaign has helped net health chain Fitness First well over £300,000 in revenue. The campaign, known as ‘You are here’, uses geo-fencing technology, with mobile phone networks used to identify a user’s approximate position. This data is then cross-referenced with the location of a Fitness First gym which then sends an SMS to a user’s handset when they are nearby. Read the full story here


8 great apps to stay fit, healthy…and alive

The myriad of available health and fitness apps best illustrate how consumer technology such as smartphones have long transcended ‘cool’ and ‘useful’, and now perform far more critical functions in many people’s lives. So here’s a snapshot of just some of the apps that can keep you fit, healthy…and even alive. Read the full list here

The Eatery’s ‘Fit or Fat’ is as addictive as ‘Hot or Not’. AND you’ll get healthy

Massive Health, a company that focuses on using technology to better our health, has launched a new app today called “The Eatery“. The Eatery pledges to not take up much of your time, as it tracks the types of food you eat, and lets the community decide how healthy you’re eating (or not) as a whole. The app is gorgeous, and addictive to use at the same time. Just 10 days after launch and the Eatery had proven itself addicted after one million food ratings. Read our full review here.

Sports app Endomondo raises $800,000 as fitness becomes social

Danish startup Endomondo, which offers a similar experience to its better-known rival RunKeeper but focuses on social features to help motivate users, has raised $800,000 in its first major round of funding. Read our full story here. 

The App That Turns Walking Into a Game

Arookoo is a free app developed by Reader’s Digest Associationand Vivity Labs. It encourages you to get walking by turning the normally rather monotonous action into a series of challenges. The app aims to keep its users motivated and fit by sending them on challenges and exploration tours of their local city. Expectedly, in return, the user gains rewards for their activity. Read our full review here

Watch our interview with Cake Health, a site that helps you keep track of your health care expenses.

iTriage is kind of like having a Doctor in your pocket

iTriage for iOS lets you self-diagnose (at your own risk) what’s wrong with you when you’re not feeling right. You can search the app by symptoms, specific illnesses, or start with a particular part of your body and drill down to a potential problem. If you’re a hypochondriac, don’t download this app. Read the full story here

Foodzy brings gamification and social networking to the dinner table

As a writer with a family to feed and schedules that have my wife and I coming and going at any given time, I know how tough it is to maintain healthy eating habits on a consistent basis. And, in case you were unaware, kids can be picky, picky eaters. That means that getting them to healthy over “stealthy” (food that looks healthy, but really isn’t) can be a whole other problem altogether. Foodzy could very well be the answer for me and my family. It adds gamification (especially great for kids) and tracks what users eat and offers points and badges based on eating nutritiously. Read the full story here. Watch out interview with Foodzy here.

ZocDoc Sweeps The Nation Revolutionizing Doctor Patient Relationships

ZocDoc is a free, online service that helps people find local doctors who take their insurance and allows patients to instantly book an appointment for a time that works for them. In most major cities, the average wait time for a doctor’s appointment can average more than 20 days (and even higher in January with cold/flu season, New Year’s resolutions and health care benefits resetting spiking demand for doctors).  The company, which we covered in June of this year, uncovers the “hidden supply” of doctors’ appointments (including 10 – 20% that are cancelled last minute), ZocDoc says that 40% of its patients book an appointment within 24 hours; 60% within 3 days. Read the full story here.

One Medical Group wants to put healthcare back into your hands

One company taking full advantage of a more social and technical way of living is One Medical Group. The SF based company was founded by Dr. Tom Lee, who wants to take a new approach on primary care. One Medical Group is like any group of primary physicians in that they take most major insurances, and have a few offices scattered around San Francisco, New York City, and Washington DC for now. The difference is in how you interact with their offices, set up and manage appointments, and ask for assistance with medical questions. Read the full story here

Health Month, the game that will trick you into a healthier lifestyle

Better fitness and health is something we all talk about and strive for, but it’s usually the last thing we actually dedicate ourselves to. There are a lot of reasons for that including jobs, family, eating a lot of food, drinking a lot of alcohol, and the list goes on and on. Health Month decided to turn your fitness into a game and bring you together with others who want to work hard on living a healthier life. Read the full story here

iPhone now measures your heart rate with Instant Heart Rate

Read the full story here.

mySugr seeks to change the diabetic world

Although mySugr isn’t alone in the diabetes data logging arena (others include Glucose BuddyTrack 3 and Wavesense) founder Fredrik Debong believes that the mySugr team has streamlined the process and provided value through making the data meaningful more than 3 days later, building upon Debong’s previous data experiments with situational context. mySugr focuses on the key metrics that are important to every diabetic. Read the full story here

Runmeter releases v6.0 to become the first fitness app to support iOS 5

Runmeter, along with its sister apps Cyclemeter and Walkmeter, all support Notification Center in iOS 5, Apple’s latest operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, making Runmeter the first health and fitness app to support Apple’s newest operating system. The new Notification Center offers users the ability to easily view workout information while running, riding or walking. Read the full story here

Jawbone’s UP wristband and iPhone app

Jawbone’s UP is a wearable wristband with an iPhone application that combines tracking, analysis, social and motivational elements (like letting you see your friends’ activities!). You wear it 24/7 to track your movement, how well you sleep and how you feel after you eat. Based on this information, Jawbone provides you with personalized recommendations and challenges to live a healthier life. The device became available on November 6th, for just $99. (N.B. Jawbone has since reimbursed customers for the wristbands after a massive wave of negative reviews.) Read the full story here.

Foodzy makes healthy eating fun with a new dashboard and Withings Scale support

For pro users of Foodzy’s service, you’ll see a personal dashboard of your daily stats for calories consumed, the amount of fluids you drank, your favorite food and all time high scores for your weekly calorie and drink intake. The app can even track your weight through integration with the Withings Scale, an Internet-connected device that measures your weight, fat mass and body mass (BMI). You can enter your weight manually if you don’t have the Scale. Read the full story here

If you want to know how you’ve been feeling over time, try the T2 Mood Tracker

T2 Mood Tracker is an app that aims to help people who suffer from any type of anxiety or mood disorders, such as military veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The app helps all of us track our daily mood though, and provides us with a beautiful graph on how we’re feeling over time. Read the full story here

And do you know the single best thing you can do for your health? Hint: It only takes 30 minutes.

Did we miss your news? Be sure to let us know so we can keep up with you in 2012!

Image: Yellowj via Shutterstock

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