GTT Notes for September, 2017: fitness technology

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Ian opened the meeting by introducing the new GTT Toronto website. It has announcements of up-coming meetings, notes from past meetings, and it’s growing. Offer any suggestions of things you’d like to see there. www.gtt-toronto.ca. The original email address gtt.toronto@gmail.com is still active for questions or suggestions. In the next couple of meetings, we’ve got a representative from Shoppers Drugmart coming in to talk about their accessible prescription solution, and a representative from Hims technology who makes braille note-takers among other things.

Jason took over and welcomed the group to the new space. He raised the topic of IOS11. Apple just released the latest version of their operating system, and Jason recommended not to upgrade unless you have a special reason to do so. There are several serious bugs relating to braille displays. There aren’t any other huge issues, but there are some. They always release upgrades with bugs in them, and they always fix them, but for now it’s not worth upgrading unless you’re adventurous. Some of the new voices can cause trouble.

Jason passed over to Chelsea and Rosie to talk about health and fitness. Chelsea clarified that living healthy doesn’t mean being a super-athlete. It can mean tracking your diet, your sleep, and your activity. Solutions suggested will include low-tech and high-tech stuff.

Chelsea began with the topic of shopping. Grocery Gateway is an online or over the phone grocery shopping solution to have groceries delivered, www.grocerygateway.com. You need to sign up, and ensure that they deliver in your area. Chelsea described the Grocery Gateway ap for the iPhone. She demonstrated some of its features like past orders, favourites, shopping by category, making lists for later, and checking out using the same card to save time. The ap is more intuitive than the website. They offer healthy prepared foods if you’re not good at cooking. The delivery fee is around $10. It’s not the cheapest prices, but the quality is high.

If you like to cook but don’t have a lot of time, Chef’s Plate is a website where you can pick meals for the week, and have them delivered. They’re not cooked, but they’re portioned out and prepared for cooking. They send the recipe on a card, but if you contact them and ask them, they will email the recipe to you. It is a bit pricy, but it’s a good option.

Uber Eats, Just Eat, and Foodora are food delivery services that deliver from restaurants. Uber Eats is especially handy if you already have the Uber ap. It remembers your home address, and allows you to sort restaurants by type, or by time of delivery. You’ll get notifications telling you how far away they are, and warning you when they’re 2 minutes away.

Momma Earth is an organic food delivery service that delivers weekly or biweekly. You get a bin of seasonal organic vegetables.

Walmart now, in theory, delivers groceries. It’s very new, and Rosie recommended waiting a little while to try it so they can iron out some wrinkles. Some of the prices are much cheaper than Grocery Gateway.

Taking care of our health has a lot to do with tracking what we eat. All Recipes]is a recipe website that is reasonably accessible. Rosie demonstrated a recipe on her iPhone. Some parts don’t work, but the recipes themselves are accessible. You can start with ingredients you have, enter them into a Google search, and find relevant recipes.

If you want to track your food intake closely, My Fitness Pal is about the most popular calorie counting app out there, and it’s reasonably accessible. She demonstrated the ap, which has sections to input all meals and types of exercise from your day. If you enter vegetable soup for example, it offers you options about brand, home-made, and amount. You can change servings or serving size, then save.

Google is your best friend. You can look up things like, how healthy is my bread. There’s an app called flipp, which collects fliers for many grocery stores to show what’s on sale. It allows you to sort by what’s closest to you. You can also get individual stores to email you their fliers.

There are a lot of medication tracking aps which help you track if you’ve taken your meds, when you need to get prescriptions renewed etc. They’re free, and they’re usually accessible. You can just use your phone too, set a daily reminder or alarm to make sure you’ve taken meds at the right time. You can use these strategies for hydration tracking as well.

Chelsea began talking about fitness technology by introducing the Apple Watch. It’s an extension of the phone. The new watch allows you to make calls with your phone at a distance. The watch has different phases. In fitness mode, it will give you information about your activity. It can remind you every hour to get up and walk around. You can set goals, and it will let you know how you’re doing as the day progresses. It tells how many calories you’ve burned in a day, and how much you’ve moved. In its workout mode you have several options. They include outdoor biking, outdoor running, indoor running, outdoor and indoor walking, elliptical, and pool swim. All these track your stats and keep track of your goals. The watch locks while you’re swimming to prevent water damage, but it still has some functionality. In the pool swim, you can tell it what size pool you’re in. Much of this functionality works on the phone also.

She demonstrated the Health ap on the iPhone. It has options for tracking health, nutrition and sleep. The ap allows you to enter all your health information including allergies and medical conditions, as well as your emergency contact. Paramedics can access this in case of emergency if you’re unable to communicate with them.

Rosie passed around a Fitbit. It’s a wearable step counter that can communicate with your phone. Some models monitor heart rate and stair climbing. It has sleep functions as well, tracking when and how much you sleep, how restlessly you’ve slept, or allowing you to wake up by vibration instead of noise. It can be a good introduction for fitness beginners to help raise awareness. There’s a range of sophistication and price from $60 to $500.

There are talking scales, or scales which communicate with smart phones or a website.

Youtube can be a surprising resource for food and fitness. A cooking demonstration will often include written recipes.

For a beginner who might not want to go to the gym, Walk Away the Pounds is an ap with workouts that are based on four basic step patterns. If you can walk and you have 3 square feet, you can do it.

There are also many aps for mental health around meditation and mindfulness.

A chair workout is another option for beginners, or individuals with mobility issues. They’re slower paced and a bit more simple. They’re usually very descriptive. They can be good for someone with spacial challenges.

The CNIB is beginning to offer yoga and fitness classes. There are accessible podcasts about exercise and weight loss.

Blind Alive is a resource of fitness instruction for people with visual impairments. You pay for them. Rosie played samples of well-described exercise classes.

Know what you like. If you try to do stuff you don’t like, you won’t do it. Use technology to do your research. There’s a lot of trial and error, especially when you’re visually impaired. Try not to be daunted by apprehension. You can use technology to research and develop your own exercise plan. We’re sometimes given the impression that vision loss is equal to being physically inactive. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. If you approach a gym with suggestions about labelling machines or other adaptive strategies they’ll probably be receptive. Be patient. You don’t have to do fitness alone. There are groups for running, walking, sailing, dragon boating, and biking, focused on visually impaired participants.

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