How Wearable Technology Can Help Achieve Your Fitness Goals
The benefits of regular exercise are very well known and documented. According to the Better Health Channel benefits can include improvements in heart and lung function, greater strength and fitness, more energy, better weight management, improved sleep, better mood, and a reduced risk of many of the chronic illnesses we see in today’s world.
Enter wearable fitness devices
The newest trend in health-and-fitness is wearable fitness technology. Smart Watches, The Apple Watch, FitBit and other wearable fitness bands are becoming more and more popular for tracking exercise activity as well as other functions related to general well-being.
These types of devices can record the type of activity you do and how much for how long, how many calories you burn, they can monitor the quality of your sleep, remind you to get up and move during the day, and can also link up with online programs so you can track it all over time. There are also devices that come with an inbuilt map and compass, or that can give you feedback on your heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and other physical data.
How is this technology changing workouts?
Since there is no one-size fits all prescription for exercise this type of device could enable us to recognise when we need to increase our activity levels to achieve our health and fitness goals, and also help us determine what types of activities are the most effective for our wellbeing. They can also be used to monitor home-based and incidental exercise such as housework and shopping.
Pros and cons
Like any type of technology, wearable devices have benefits and drawbacks.
Benefits include providing motivation, providing objective feedback, providing a tool to set and track goals, simply making the wearer more conscious of the need to move more, improving fitness and providing positive social interaction.
Drawbacks include over-reliance on a technology which, according to some researchers, is not always 100% accurate. Another factor is that the initial enthusiasm fed by aggressive marketing of the latest gadgetry eventually fizzles out when the novelty wears off. The cost of the devices can also be a drawback for some.
Research and data
There is a greater social impact of wearable fitness devices. According to Live Science these types of devices are giving researchers the opportunity to examine all kinds of movements, including incidental exercise, and how these impact on health rather than having to rely on questionnaires.
At this stage however the technology is quite new, and there is not a lot of data available on their long-term effectiveness. Dr Mitesh Patel, Assistant Professor of Healthcare Management from the Wharton University of Pennsylvania, considers they could be important for developing strategies to improve population health. However, he is also cited in this ABC News article as saying that they are most likely to be used by people already engaged in fitness and health activities. He also noted that they tend to be more effective when used within groups rather than alone.
How to incorporate wearable technology into your lifestyle
Incorporating these technologies into your life can enable you to better balance your life between work, leisure and exercise, and to see what works best for you and make adjustments to your routine accordingly. The devices are most effective when used to set daily, weekly or monthly goals for fitness, weight-loss, and improved health readings.
At the same time however, it’s important not to become over-reliant on your device, and to also get proper health readings and regular health check-ups from your doctor.
Please note that the information we provide is not advice but general information only. Readers should always consult a health professional for advice in respect of their personal health and circumstances.
The Jama Network Media Centre 2015, ‘Smartphone Applications, Wearable Devices Appear to be Accurate in Tracking Step Counts’, viewed 1st August 2015, http://media.jamanetwork.com/news-item/smartphone-applications-wearable-devices-appear-to-be-accurate-in-tracking-step-counts/