Title:
GAIT TRAINER PROVIDING EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Provided are a gait trainer which provides exercise prescription and an exercise prescription system using the gait trainer. The gait trainer comprises a display, pedals on which user's feet are placed, a control unit which receives physical information about the physical condition of the user while the pedals are moving, defines an optimal exercise prescription based on the physical information, and provides the defined exercise prescription to the display. The control unit accesses a server belonging to a health-related organization through a predetermined network, and defines the exercise prescription with the aid of the health expertise received from the server. Since the exercise prescription suitable for the user is provided, exercise efficiency is maximized and possible dangerous health situations can be prevented.



Inventors:
Park, Seung-hun (Kyungki-do, KR)
Khang, Gon (Seoul, KR)
Application Number:
12/094545
Publication Date:
12/24/2009
Filing Date:
11/21/2006
Assignee:
Park, Seung-hun (Kyungki-do, KR)
KLMED CO., LTD. (Gangwon-do, KR)
INDUSTRY ACADEMIC COOPERATION FOUNDATION KYUNGHEE (Gyeonngi-Do, KR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/52
International Classes:
A63B71/00; A63B22/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040198558Easy folding device for treadmillsOctober, 2004Chang
20090233772Gymnastics deviceSeptember, 2009Eck
20080182728Walk AssistJuly, 2008Glasscock
20030087732Pogo action bikeMay, 2003Musachia
20030073549Neck exerciserApril, 2003Hatch
20100048357EXERCISE ASSISTING METHOD, EXERCISE APPLIANCE, AND INFORMATION PROCESSORFebruary, 2010Nakagawa et al.
20080242519METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR TARGETING ABDOMINAL MUSCLES WHILE RECEIVING A CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUTOctober, 2008Parmater
20070265140Apparatus and method enhancing muscular movementNovember, 2007Kim et al.
20070219053Exercise apparatus with resilient foot supportSeptember, 2007Barufka et al.
20020022550Exercise apparatus using magnetism to augment gravatational fieldFebruary, 2002Pham
20060160679Pull cord for exercising deviceJuly, 2006Kung



Primary Examiner:
JALALZADEH ABYANE, SHILA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Perman & Green, LLP (Stratford, CT, US)
Claims:
1. A gait trainer providing an exercise prescription, the gait trainer comprising: a display; pedals on which user's feet are placed; a control unit which receives physical information about a physical condition of the user while the pedals are moving, defines optimal exercise prescription based on the information about the user's physical condition, and provides the exercise prescription to the display.

2. The gait trainer of claim 1, wherein the control unit accesses a server belonging to a health-related organization through a predetermined network, and defines the exercise prescription by also using health expertise received from the server.

3. The gait trainer of one of claims 1 and 2, further comprising: a pedal operating portion which drives the pedals, wherein the control unit controls at least one of driving speed and load of the pedal operating portion.

4. The gait trainer of claim 3, wherein the pedal operating portion includes pressure measuring sensors to measure pressures applied to both feet, and the control unit provides the exercise prescription by also using the pressure measurements received from the pressure measuring sensors.

5. The gait trainer of one of claims 1 and 2, further comprising: a storage unit which stores information about an exercise history of the user, wherein the control unit provides the exercise prescription by also using the information received from the storage unit.

6. The gait trainer of one of claims 1 and 2, further comprising: a weight-supporting portion which allows the pressures applied to both feet of the user to be reduced and includes a holder which is put on certain parts of the user's body and a holder driving unit which lifts or lowers the holder.

7. The gait trainer of claim 6, wherein the holder driving unit lifts or lowers at least two portions of the holder differently.

8. The gait trainer of one of claims 1 and 2, further comprising: a wheelchair docking portion for fixing a wheelchair securely.

9. The gait trainer of one of claims 1 and 2, further comprising: a speaker to play music which helps the user's exercise.

10. The gait trainer of one of claims 1 and 2, further comprising: a ventilator through which aroma is provided to the user to help the user's exercise.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a gait trainer for improving a user's health, and more particularly, to a gait trainer providing an exercise prescription based on information about the physical condition of a user and an exercise prescription system including the gait trainer.

BACKGROUND ART

Modern people living a busy life may not get enough exercise. Particularly, as computer technology is developing, people spend much more time using computers, and thus they do not exercise, except simple repeated movements such as moving a mouse or typing a keyboard. Moreover, as the Internet is rapidly popularized, modern people spend much more time using computers. Therefore, various adult diseases owing to the lack of exercise threaten the health of people, and awareness of lack of exercise is getting higher.

In particular, as the quality of life has increased, people not only satisfy their necessities of life, but are concerned about and much more interested in a higher quality of life by keeping their bodies in good health. A recent ‘well-being’ fad is a good example of modern people's interest in health.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

Technical Problem

However, it is reported that exercises are not always good for people and that exercises can affect people differently. For example, it is well known that a muscular exercise which is good for healthy males in their 20's is fatal for menopausal women who have symptoms of osteoporosis. Thus, different exercise methods are provided based on the physical condition of a person who desires to exercise, and the person should recognize his physical condition and then exercise. Excessively exercising without considering personal physical condition may cause serious damage to the body such as pulling muscles or breaking bones.

Such damage can be more serious when a person who desires to exercise is disabled and is not able to move his body freely. For example, people who have damaged spines or weak joints have many exercise limitations. Specifically, since severe pains occur in their spines or joints whenever they move their body, it is hard for them to keep exercising for a long time. However, doctors strongly advise these people to reduce their weight by exercising constantly in order to prevent the symptoms from worsening. Specifically, if arthritic patients do not exercise, they gain weight, but since their joints are too damaged, they are not able to exercise.

Technical Solution

It is recommended to walk in the water to exercise muscles and consume calories without strain to joints. When a person moves his body in the water, he can exercise the muscles and reduce the weight due to the water resistance, and thus, this is the best method to achieve exercise effect without straining the joints. However, to this end, it is required to go to a specific place such as swimming pool regularly, and this could be inconvenient, especially, for people with a busy lifestyle.

Therefore, an exercise prescription device, which provides a user with an optimal exercise prescription which does not strain joints, based on information about the physical condition of the user and monitors the user's exercises continuously to efficiently manage possible dangerous circumstances, is required.

ADVANTAGEOUS EFFECTS

According to the present invention, a gait trainer helps the user to exercise without excessive strain to the user's joints and provides an exercise prescription suitable for the user.

Moreover, according to the present invention, the gait trainer supports the user's weight, and thus the load applied to the user's body can be eased as if the user is exercising in water.

In addition, according to the present invention, an exercise prescription system provides an optimal exercise prescription to the user based on physical information about the physical condition of the user, and monitors a user's exercising constantly to efficiently manage possible dangerous circumstances.

DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The present invention will become more apparent by describing in detail exemplary embodiments thereof with reference to the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gait trainer with exercise prescription capability according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a lateral view of the gait trainer with exercise prescription capability of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a control unit included in a gait trainer with exercise prescription capability according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 4A-4E are views of data shown in a display of a gait trainer with exercise prescription capability according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a view illustrating a gait trainer with exercise prescription capability according to an embodiment of the present invention.

BEST MODE

The present invention provides a gait trainer which helps a user to walk without straining joints and provides an optimal exercise prescription based on information about the physical condition of the user, and an exercise prescription system which monitors the user's exercises constantly to efficiently manage possible dangerous circumstances.

The present invention also provides a gait trainer which includes a weight-supporting portion to ease the effect of the user's weight so that the user can obtain the same effects as if he exercised in the water.

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a gait trainer providing an exercise prescription, the gait trainer comprising: a display; pedals on which user's feet are placed; a control unit which receives physical information about a physical condition of the user while the pedals are moving, defines optimal exercise prescription based on the information about the user's physical condition, and provides the exercise prescription to the display.

The control unit may access a server belonging to a health-related organization through a predetermined network, and defines the exercise prescription by also using health expertise received from the server.

The gait trainer may further comprise: a pedal operating portion which drives the pedals, wherein the control unit controls at least one of driving speed and load of the pedal operating portion.

The pedal operating portion may include pressure measuring sensors to measure pressures applied to both feet, and the control unit provides the exercise prescription by also using the pressure measurements received from the pressure measuring sensors.

The gait trainer may further comprise: a storage unit which stores information about an exercise history of the user, wherein the control unit provides the exercise prescription by also using the information received from the storage unit.

The gait trainer may further comprise: a weight-supporting portion which allows the pressures applied to both feet of the user to be reduced and includes a holder which is put on certain parts of the user's body and a holder driving unit which lifts or lowers the holder.

The holder driving unit may lift or lower at least two portions of the holder differently.

According to the present invention, a gait trainer allows the user to exercise without excessive strain to his joints. The weight-supporting portion produces the same effects as if the user exercised in the water. Moreover, the user can be provided with an optimal exercise prescription, and prevent unexpected situations due to excessive exercise.

MODE FOR INVENTION

The present invention will now be described more fully with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which an embodiment of the invention is shown. Throughout the drawings, like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gait trainer 100 with exercise prescription capability according to an embodiment of the present invention, and FIG. 2 is a lateral view of the gait trainer 100 of FIG. 1.

The gait trainer 100 includes lower frames 105, supporting frames 110, load supporting poles 115, and handles 120. Moreover, the gait trainer 100 also includes pedals 140 on which user's feet are placed, a pedal operating portion 130 that drives the pedals 140, a display 190, and a control unit 150. The gait trainer 100 may include a weight-supporting portion 180 that eases the effect of a user's weight, and a holder 170 that encloses a user's body.

The lower frames 105, the supporting frames 110, and the load supporting poles 115 are made of a rigid material such as metal. The pedal operating portion 130 is attached to the lower frames 105. The operation of the pedal operating portion 130 will be described in detail below.

When a user puts his/her feet on the pedals 140, the pedal operating portion 130 drives the pedals 140, allowing the user's feet to move in a similar way to walking. Since the pedal operating portion 130 directly operates the pedals 140, a user who cannot move his feet on his own can obtain the effect similar to a walking exercise. In this case, even when the user does not pedal directly, his feet are moved according to the movement of the pedal operating portion 130. Then, the user's center of gravity alternately shifts between right and left according to the movement of the pedals 140 driven by the pedal operating portion 130, and so the user's body is moved in directions opposite to the movement of the center of gravity in order to keep the user balanced. The movements of the user's body will be described in detail below.

According to the movement of the pedals 140, the user's body reacts in two ways. First, because the movement of the pedals 140 disturbs the balance of the user's body, repeated contraction and relaxation of muscles instinctively occur as reflex movements to keep his body balanced. These cooperative movements of the muscles produce effects of muscle strengthening which are similar to benefits that can be obtained from active exercises, and also strengthen the cooperativeness between various muscles used for walking. The intensity of the exercise can be controlled by increasing and reducing the weight applied to each foot caused by the user's body weight. Second, the user's body passively repeats actions required for walking. Through the passively repeated actions, the user can learn what actions are needed for walking. In particular, this learning is useful for users whose body balance maintenance function is lost or deteriorated by a disorder of the brain or nerves. In the case of users with deteriorated body balance maintenance function, functions of the brain or nerves in charge of maintaining the body balance can be reproduced by repeatedly learning the walking movements.

In brief, the movements of the pedals 140 function as stimulation to disturb the balance of the body, and the body reacts to the stimulation. Therefore, the repeated reflex movements strengthen the necessary muscles and cooperative capability between the muscles used for walking, and the brain tissues or nervous tissues in charge of walking function can be reproduced or redefined.

The pedals 140 are not necessarily operated by the pedal operating portion 130, and may be driven by the user who directly pedals. Thus, the pedal operating portion 130 can be optimally operated by the user.

The pedal operating portion 130 may include a motor to drive the pedals 140, and the driving speed of the pedals 130 or the weight applied to the pedals 130 can be controlled by the control unit 150. Since it becomes harder for the user to maintain his body position and balance as the pedal operating portion 130 drives the pedals 140 at a high speed, the user can obtain more beneficial exercise in this condition. Moreover, in this case the user may repeatedly control the walking movements so that the repeated learning effects can increase.

The pedal operating portion 130 may include a cam (not shown) which makes the movements of the pedals 140 similar to the walking human walking movements. In this case, the power used by the user to drive the pedals 140 can be controlled by controlling the weight applied to the cam or changing friction applied to the cam. It is certain that as the weight applied to the pedals 140 increases, the user can obtain more beneficial exercise even when the user does the same exercise.

As described above, when the pedal operating portion 130 drives the pedals 140, the user can exercise passively. Since an active exercise mode can be provided, the user can directly drive the pedals 140. In the active exercise mode, the pedal operating portion 130 does not drive the pedals 140 directly. However, in this mode the pedal operating portion 130 may control the exercise strength using a driving portion (not shown). Therefore, according to the user's ability to move his body, the user may achieve more beneficial exercise by driving the pedals 140.

During exercise, the user can keep his body balanced by grabbing handles 120. In the case of a user having sufficient power in his torso, when the user raises his torso to a certain height from the handles 120, the user may attain effects of reduction in weight applied to the lower part of his body as well as train the torso muscles. When the weight applied to the lower part of the body is reduced, damage to weak leg joints such as knees can be prevented.

The control unit 150 collects information related to the physical condition of the user who is exercising, and provides an individual exercise prescription based on the information.

The exercise prescription provides the user with optimum exercise details, such as exercise type, exercise strength, and how often and how long to exercise, which are determined after analyzing the physical information such as a user's physical condition and strength. In addition, by using the exercise prescription, the strength and amount of exercise can be properly controlled according to how the exercise is proceeding. Thus, the exercise prescription is a scientific and systematic health improvement service. The exercise prescription is systematically performed based on exercise science along with medical expertise.

The information about the physical condition of the user includes basic information such as the user's pulse, weight, body fat, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar level, body temperature, heart rate, and bioelectrical impedance, and exercise information such as the user's pulse, electrocardiography (ECG), and blood pressure during exercise. The basic information and exercise information about the physical condition of the user are examples of information, and are not necessarily distinguished and may be interconnected to each other. BMI is an important standard to determine whether people are underweight, of normal weight, overweight, or obese. BMI is obtained by using a formula, weight (Kg)/height (m), and is used to determine obesity index of the user.

The operation of providing an exercise prescription from the control unit 150 of the gait trainer 100 will be described in detail below.

The basic information about the physical condition of the user who desires to exercise is collected. The information may be input manually by the user using buttons 155 or the user may input his basic information using a display with a touch screen instead of the buttons 155. Alternatively, the information may be read from a storage unit (not shown) which includes information about the user's physical condition and the user's exercise history. Specifically, when the user inputs his ID or name using the buttons 155, the user's basic information can be read.

Moreover, the information about the user's physical condition may be collected directly by various measurement sensors (not shown) included in the gait trainer 100. For example, weight sensors are attached to the pedals 140 so that they can measure the weight of the user at the moment when the user puts his feet on the pedals 140, and the measured weight may be sent to the control unit 150. Additionally, pulsimeters and sphygmomanometers may be placed on predetermined portions of the handles 120 where the user can grab. When the user only grabs the handles 120, the user's pulse and blood pressure are measured and are then transmitted to the control unit 150. Furthermore, graduations may be marked on the weight supporting poles 115 or the supporting frames 110 so that the user can measure his height personally. A height measuring device (not shown) which can go up and down along the weight supporting poles 115 or the supporting frames 110 may be further included so that the user's height can be automatically measured and input to the control unit 150 instead of measuring and inputting the height manually using the buttons 155.

Alternatively, the information about the user's physical condition may be collected using sensors formed on a chest belt which is put on the user's chest or a hat put on the user's head. In this case, the physical information measured by the sensors may be transmitted to the control unit 150 by wireless communication so that the user can exercise more conveniently.

When the basic information about the user's physical condition is collected, the control unit 150 provides the user with the optimal exercise prescription based on the information. For example, when it is determined that the user is obese based on the user's BMI, the control unit 150 provides an exercise prescription that includes a long duration of walking with low intensity. In comparison, when it is determined that the user is underweight, the control unit 150 provides a highly intensive exercise to the user. The control unit 150 may provide the user with exercises of a various intensities and optimal patterns based on fatigue levels of user's muscles and recovery speed during exercise. For instance, the control unit 150 may provide an exercise prescription that suitably combines low intensity exercise and high intensity exercise based on the user's physical information.

For example, it is assumed that the user's exercise intensity is ranked from 0 to 10. The user's exercise intensity may indicate the power necessary to move the pedals 140 or a combination of the pedal speed and applied weight. It is assumed that when the analysis result of the user's basic physical information indicates that the user is underweight, the user needs to reinforce the muscular strength. In this case, the control unit 150 may provide an exercise prescription that informs the user to skip exercises of intensity ranked from 0 to 4 and only perform exercises of intensity ranked from 5 to 9 for five minutes each with one minute break between exercises. The exercise prescription, then, informs the user to perform an exercise of intensity 9 for three minutes and directly, without break, shift to an exercise of the maximum intensity (intensity 10) using all the user's strength for two minutes. The user exercises according to the exercise prescription provided by the control unit 150 and then rests for three minutes so that the user's muscles can sufficiently relax. After exercising, if necessary, the user can repeat cycles of exercises which have been performed before. By such an exercise prescription, the user can reinforce his muscular strength.

Alternatively, it is assumed that the analysis result of the user's basic information indicates that the user is obese so that the user's basic strength is low. In this case, unlike as mentioned above, the control unit 150 may provide an exercise prescription that informs the user to perform exercises of intensity ranked from 0 to 4 for two minutes each and then rest for five minutes. By using this exercise prescription, the user can consume lots of calories without serious strain to the user's bones.

While the user is exercising, exercise information is collected and transmitted to the control unit 150. The exercise information includes pulse, electrocardiograms and blood pressure during exercising. When the user has heart disease, information about the electrocardiograms and heart rate is especially important. Therefore, the control unit 150 may provide an exercise prescription that does not allow the user's heart rate to rise above a certain limit. The exercise information is shown on the display 190 so that the user can check his physical condition personally. The physical information shown on the display 190 will be described in detail later with reference to FIGS. 4A-4E.

The control unit 150 analyses the user's exercise information and alerts the user when the analysis result indicates that the blood pressure or pulse of the user rises above a certain danger level. Therefore the user can exercise safely using the gait trainer 100.

Furthermore, the control unit 150 measures the agility, power, muscular endurance and VO2 of the user, as described below.

1) Agility: it is measured using a time taken for the user to press the buttons 155 in response to commands shown on the display 190.

2) Power: it is measured by measuring how fast the user can pedal at a predetermined speed.

3) Muscular endurance: the control unit 150 controls the pedal operating portion 130 to apply the maximum load to the pedals 140. Then, the muscular endurance is measured by measuring how long the user can pedal while bearing the applied load. The load for measuring the muscular endurance may be different from a load for measuring the power. This is because the power is focused on how fast the user can perform a short distance exercise but the muscular endurance is focused on determining whether the user can perform a relatively long distance exercise without muscular fatigue. The muscular endurance may be measured in unit time.

4) Maximum oxygen consumption (VO2): The gait trainer 100 may include a module (for example, a mouthpiece, not shown) to measure the VO2 of the user. Thus, the VO2 may be measured using the module that the user is holding in his mouth while exercising. Alternatively, the heart rate may be extracted by processing the electrocardiograms and blood oxygen saturation (SPO2) signals, and VO2,max can be estimated using the extracted heart rate.

The information about a user's physical condition is measured in different ways according to the active or passive exercise mode. For example, in the passive exercise mode where the pedal operating portion 130 drives the pedals 140, it may be difficult to measure the power or the muscular endurance. However, even in this case, relative changes of the information which is changed every time it is measured can be detected, and the control unit 150 can define an appropriate exercise prescription using the relative changes.

When the information about the user's physical condition is measured, the control unit 150 generates information about the user's health by measuring changes in the user's heart rate and blood pressure according to exercise intensity and how much exercise is being done and changes in heart rate when a specific load is applied. Algorithms for generating the health information may vary, and are not included in the technical scope of the present invention, and any algorithm which can generate the health information based on the user's health can be used. The control unit 150 defines a more specific exercise prescription based on the information about a user's physical condition. The exercise prescription may be categorized into a sport exercise prescription and a stepwise exercise prescription. The sport exercise prescription provides the user with different types of exercises to make difference in the amount of exercise to vary the exercise regime. For example, the user can expend more energy when he mountain bikes than when he road bikes. The stepwise exercise prescription controls the exercise stress of the same type of exercise.

The gait trainer 100 may measure other information about a user's physical condition besides the information mentioned above.

The weight-supporting portion 180 will be described in detail below.

The holder 170 is stably attached to a predetermined part of the user's body. Then, lines 175 connected to the holder 170 are linked to the weight-supporting portion 180. The weight-supporting portion 180 includes a motor (not shown) that allows the holder 170 to go up and down by winding or unwinding the lines 175.

The user operates the buttons 155 after he puts on the holder 170. Then the control unit 150 controls the weight-supporting portion 180 to lift the holder 170 in response to the user's input. As the holder 170 is lifted, the user's weight applied to the pedals 170 is reduced. Thus, the user can exercise without any strain to his bones.

There may be users whose left and right parts of the body have been developed differently. Moreover, there may be users with damage to a part of their brain, who are not able to control a half of their bodies. In this case, the weight applied to the right and left feet is not evenly distributed. The pedals 140 include pressure sensors to measure the applied pressure. The pressure sensors may be force sensing resistors (FSRs). Therefore, the weight-supporting portion 180 may be controlled differently based on the applied weight. For example, if the pressure applied to the left foot is greater than the pressure applied to the right foot, the pressure applied to the user's right foot should be released. Thus, the control unit 150 controls the weight-supporting portion 180 to lift the right portion of the holder 170 higher than the left portion. When the right portion of the holder 170 is lifted higher than the left portion, the excess pressure applied to the right part of the body can be reduced so that the user can maintain his body balance.

Furthermore, the holder 170 may include a heart rate monitor to measure the user's heart rate. When the heart rate monitor is directly attached to the holder 170, the changes in heart rate of the user during exercise can be easily detected. As described above, information measured by the sensors like the heart rate monitor may be transmitted to the control unit over a wired connection or by wireless communication.

The gait trainer 100 may include a camera (not shown) to take pictures of users exercising. The taken picture information is transmitted to the control unit 150, and the control unit 150 processes the picture information and shows it on the display 190. Then, the user can exercise while watching himself at the same time, and therefore, biofeedback is possible, which allows the user to maintain a desirable exercising position.

The control unit 150 provides the exercise prescription based on the user's current physical information and also stores the history about how the exercising is proceeding. Therefore, the control unit 150 can provide a more systematic exercise prescription. Moreover, the control unit 150 displays the exercise result as simple scores and then encourages the user concerning his achievement.

Wheelchair docking portions (not shown) for fixing a wheelchair may be formed on the bottom ends of the lower frames 105 where the user is positioned. The wheelchair docking portions enable the user to fix his wheelchair easily. Thus, the user using the wheelchair can approach the gait trainer 100 and place his wheelchair simply on the wheelchair docking portions. Then, the user can lift his body using the handles 120. As described above, in this case the weight-supporting portion 180 can be used to reduce the user's weight based on the information about his physical condition.

Furthermore, the gait trainer 100 may include speakers (not shown). By using the speakers, the user may be informed about his physical condition while exercising, or a variety of additional information may be provided to the user. For instance, the user can relieve the tedium of exercise by listening to radio or music. Additionally, predetermined music that makes the user relax may be provided through the speakers, and thus music therapy can be implemented. The music may be Korean traditional music or classical music, and may be played by a turntable to avoid digital fatigue. Alternatively, digital music sampled with a high bit rate may be provided.

In addition, the gait trainer 100 may further include an aroma generator (not shown) or a ventilator (not shown). The scent from the aroma generator may stimulate the olfactory senses of the user and relax the users excessive tension. The aroma generator may be formed using a device similar to an ink cartridge so that various kinds of scent can be changed easily.

The user can check information about his physical condition shown in the display 190 and exercise efficiently according to the suitable exercise prescription using the gait trainer 100 illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of the control unit 150 included in the gait trainer 100 with exercise prescription capability.

The control unit 150 includes a physical information receiving portion 310, a user operating portion 320, a central control portion 350, a gait trainer control portion 370, a storage portion 380, and a display control portion 390.

The physical information receiving portion 310 receives information about a user's physical condition. As described above, the physical information receiving portion 310 may receive the information from the sensors attached to the gait trainer 100 by wired or wireless communication. Alternatively, the sensors may be directly attached to parts of the user's body.

The user inputs a user command using the user operating portion 320. Through the user operating portion 320, the user can input his basic information directly and select a suitable exercise prescription. When the user command is input, the central control portion 350 controls the gait trainer control portion 370 and the display control portion 390 in response to the user command.

For example, when the user wants to check his exercise history, the central control portion 350 receives the exercise history corresponding to the user which is stored in the storage portion 380. Moreover, the central control portion 350 processes the history to be suitably shown and provides it to the display control portion 390. Then, the display control portion 390 controls the display 190 formed in the gait trainer 100 to show the exercise history.

In addition, the central control portion 350 creates the exercise prescription appropriate to the user based on the information about his physical condition. The created exercise prescription is transmitted to the display control portion 390 and then shown in the display 190 (referring to FIG. 1). The user controls the gait trainer control portion 370 according to the exercise prescription. The gait trainer control portion 370 controls the pedal operating portion 130 (referring to FIG. 1) to correspond to the exercise prescription so that the exercise speed and the exercise intensity can be changed.

The central control portion 350 may further include an output portion (not shown) that prints a variety of information such as the information about a user's physical condition, the exercise prescription and exercise history of the user on paper and provides it to the user, as well as providing the information to the display control portion 390. When the exercise history is output, the user can manage his exercising more actively.

FIGS. 4A-4E are exemplary views of data shown in the display 190 (referring to FIG. 1) of the gait trainer with exercise prescription capability.

FIG. 4A illustrates an example of the exercise prescription provided to the user. The exercise prescription includes target heart rate, duration of exercise, expected calorie consumption, exercise intensity, warming-up exercise, and precautions. In FIG. 4A, the target heart rate is between 128 and 157. If the user has heart disease, the gait trainer 100 advises the user to exercise less when the user's heart rate rises above the target heart rate, as described above. The gait trainer 100 provides the user with the warming-up exercise and precautions, and thus dangerous situations which can occur when the user starts to exercise can be prevented.

FIGS. 4B and 4C illustrate displays showing weight and body fat and percentage of body fat, respectively.

The user can monitor his physical information whenever he wants by operating the buttons 155 illustrated in FIG. 1. In particular, the weight, the body fat, and the body fat rate are important factors to define how obese the user is and his physical condition, and the control unit 150 (referring to FIG. 1) provides the exercise prescription suitable for the user using this information.

FIG. 4D illustrates an example of the exercise information shown in the display 190 while the user is exercising. In FIG. 4D, the display 190 shows heart rate, blood pressure, and duration of exercise, and includes a pressure displaying portion 410 to show the pressure applied to each foot.

The user can monitor heart rate and blood pressure from the display 190 while he is exercising. In particular, hypotensive or hypertensive users can maintain appropriate blood pressure. The control unit 150 (referring to FIG. 1) may manage to monitor health information such as the heart rate and blood pressure of the user. Thus, the control unit 150 allows the user to exercise safely based on the user's physical condition and the provided exercise prescription.

According to the pressure displaying portion 410 illustrated in FIG. 4D, the left foot of the user applies pressure of 75 kg and the right foot applies pressure of 80 kg. Thus, it is required to slightly move the center of gravity to the left side since the right foot of the user is applying more pressure. The control unit 150 controls the weight-supporting portion 180 (referring to FIG. 1) to lift the right part of the user's body higher than the left part based on the information. Alternatively, the user can control the weight applied to the feet personally, and thus can actively and more efficiently exercise.

FIG. 4E illustrates an example of the provided exercise prescription and current exercising condition.

In FIG. 4E, the user is provided the exercise prescription that informs the user to exercise stepwise at increasing intensity for five minutes each step and exercise at the initial intensity after 15 minutes. The exercising condition of the user is displayed on the lower graph corresponding to the exercise prescription.

As illustrated in FIG. 4E, the user exercised for ten minutes according to the exercise prescription, but after that, the user is not able to raise the intensity and is exercising at the same intensity. Accordingly, the user can easily determine he needs to raise the exercise intensity.

The data illustrated in FIGS. 4A to 4E are only examples of a variety of information shown in the display, and the present invention is not limited thereto.

FIG. 5 is a view illustrating a gait trainer with exercise prescription capability according to another embodiment of the present invention.

An exercise prescription system 500 includes a gait trainer 510, a signal transmitting medium 550, and a server 590. The server 590 includes a central processing unit 560, an interface 570, and a storage unit 580.

The gait trainer 510 is different from the gait trainer 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 in that the server 590 which defines the exercise prescription is separated from the gait trainer 510.

The server 590 may be an external computer, a personal computer, or a health information server belonging to an organization such as a hospital. The exercise prescription system 500 has an advantage in that it can define a more specified and specialized exercise prescription based on the physical condition of the user since the server is separately included.

The gait trainer 510 illustrated in FIG. 5 and the gait trainer 100 illustrated in FIG. 1 are substantially the same except a control unit of the gait trainer 5 does not define the exercise prescription directly. Therefore, the descriptions of the similar elements will not be repeated.

When the gait trainer 510 collects the information about a user's physical condition, the information is transmitted to the server 590 through the signal transmitting medium 550. The signal transmitting medium 550 may be a wired or wireless communication network, or a broadband network such as the Internet. Thus, the signal transmitting medium is not limited to a particular physical medium for transmitting the signals.

The case where the server 590 is a personal computer will be described below.

The user informs his computer that he is starting to exercise. In this case, the signal transmitting medium 550 may transmit the physical information using infrared communication, serial communication using a universal serial bus (USB) standard, parallel communication using a parallel port, or communication using an IEEE1394. In addition, the information about the user's physical condition may be transmitted using Bluetooth communication. When the information is transmitted to the server 590, that is, the personal computer, the interface 570 adaptively receives the information from the signal transmitting medium 550. The information is provided to the central processing unit 560, and the central processing unit 560 determines the optimum exercise prescription based on the information about the exercise history of the user and the received information about the user's physical condition. The exercise pre scription is transmitted to the gait trainer 510 through the interface 570. Then, the user exercises according to the exercise prescription which is shown in the display of the gait trainer 510. The information about the user's physical condition may be input to the gait trainer 510 by the user personally or collected using the various sensors attached to the gait trainer 510. The physical information may also be stored in the storage unit 580 of the server 590. Therefore, in this case only the exercise information is transmitted from the gait trainer 510 to the storage unit 580 through the signal transmitting medium 550 while the user is exercising.

The case where the server 590 is a health information server belonging to an organization such as a hospital will be described below.

In this case a variety of expertise such as improved new and specialized treatment can be updated continuously to the storage unit 580. Thus, the central processing unit 560 can provide the best medical service based on the new treatment or theories.

Furthermore, information about the exercise history of the user can be referred to by experts such as doctors anytime they want. Therefore, unlike when the user exercises by himself, the user can refer to advise of the experts about the exercise history.

While the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to exemplary embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the following claims. For example, various sensors included in a gait trainer 100 may include more or different measuring devices besides the devices described above. Moreover, the pedals included in the gait trainer 100 may include a shock absorber such as a spring to increase absorption of pressure applied to the user's bones.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The present invention is applicable to a gait trainer for improving a user's health.