With India’s triumphant T20 World Cup win, the ongoing UEFA European Football Championship and Tour de France, and the impending Paris Olympics, I had to do a ‘sports’ column this time. On how tech is making us fitter.

I’ve been a casual, hobby runner and cyclist for a long time, about 25 years or more, though I’ve also done pretty extreme things like cycling in Ladakh solo and unsupported, and run a few marathons — even an ultramarathon where I was attacked by a camel.

So when people ask me, what tech gadgets did you use in the early days, I stutter a bit. I remember a manual-winding HMT watch, paper, pen…

In the last few years of the last century and the first few of the next, I did a lot of reading of course, the Lonely Planet books, and downloaded a lot of printouts from the Internet. There was no GPS, no sports watches, no health trackers and no mobile phones which had ‘em all.

On my first Ladakh cycling trip. I remember pasting an elevation map of the region on a board tied to my cycle handlebars, covered by a sheet of polythene — that was fun indeed. I had a small camera, but did not know how to take selfies — thankfully.

Let me not get awash in nostalgia, and Fast forward to the present, whatever your sport is, tech can help you become better. Wearable tech can significantly enhance your performance even as a hobby sportsperson, by providing real-time data and personalised insights.

Most of you are familiar with fitness trackers, smartwatches and heart rate monitors that can track your physical activity, monitor your heart rate, and measure metrics such as speed, distance, and calories burned. And more.

There’s also GPS navigation, route mapping, and coaching, which can make activities like running, cycling, and hiking more engaging and productive. And then there are the ubiquitous Apps for everything. Here’s a quick shot at the best Apps for different sports that I and my friends use.

Running: Strava

Known for its solid and easy social features, Strava allows you to track your runs, analyse performance and connect with a community of runners. It offers detailed metrics, route mapping and the ability to compete in challenges. Option: Endomondo.

Long-distance Cycling: Komoot

Ideal for planning and navigating routes, Komoot offers detailed maps, turn-by-turn navigation, and route recommendations based on your riding preferences. It’s great for exploring new areas, beats Strava hollow. Option: TrainingPeaks.

Walking: MapMyWalk

While Strava’s still the de facto app for walkers, I see a lot of folks gravitating towards MapMyWalk, the walking-centric app developed by Under Armour. MapMyWalk offers GPS tracking, route mapping, and detailed statistics on your walks. It’s especially friendly for beginners. It also provides social features to connect with friends and join challenges. Option: Pacer.

Swimming: Garmin Connect

If you use a Garmin swim watch, Garmin Connect is an excellent companion app. It offers detailed swim tracking, analysis, and integration with other fitness activities. Garmin devices and apps are widely available in India, making this a convenient option. Option: MySwimPro

Yoga: Asana Rebel

This app blends yoga with fitness, offering workouts that focus on strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. It’s great for those who want to integrate yoga into a broader fitness routine. The app also includes lifestyle and nutrition tips. Option: Daily Yoga.

Gymming: Cure.fit

Cure.fit offers a comprehensive fitness experience with live and on-demand workout classes, including strength training, cardio, yoga, and more. It also provides personalised training plans, diet plans, and mental wellness content, making it a holistic fitness app. Option: GoQii.

Nutrition: Fooducate

Fooducate is fairly good at analysing the nutritional quality of foods. It includes a food grading system and suggests healthier alternatives, which is helpful for those looking to improve their diet quality. Option: HealthifyMe

Having said that, I am beginning to realise too much technology can take the fun out of workouts. I get intensely irritated with friends who need to share details of every ride, walk, run or swim on social media and unfollow them immediately.

For the last few weeks, I have been running, walking and cycling without any gadgets, even the mobile phone, and it’s heavenly. I have a tendency to listen to podcasts while walking, and it really ruins your mindfulness. I don’t need it at all.

To each his own!

(Shubho Sengupta is a digital marketer with an analogue ad agency past. He can be found @shubhos on X)