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Wearable Technology: Shaping the Future of Your Health Care

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Wearable Technology: Shaping the Future of Your Health Care

Do you own one of the 19 million wearable fitness trackers shipped in the U.S. in 2014? You may know about brands like Fitbit and Jawbone, but you may be surprised to hear that Sony, Acer, Garmin and even Swarovski make fitness trackers, too! The wearable technology fitness trend is expected to sell over 112 million devices by 2018 and become a billion dollar industry.



What is the cause of this fitness craze? People taking their health into their own hands. In today’s world, we have access to information stored in our pockets and downloaded at the touch of a finger, yet our own wellness (or lack of) often feels like a mystery. Wearables provide information that is both important and personal to us -- information regarding our health. It’s like having a motivator, statistician and virtual doctor all in one easily-accessible place!

What is Wearable Technology?

Wearable technology comes in various shapes and forms and, like all technology, continually evolves. Today wearable technology includes devices, fashionable electronics, articles of clothing or accessories that connect to or incorporate electronic technology.

Modern wearable technology goes back to 1975 when the calculator watch became a pop culture phenomenon. By today’s standard, calculators pale in comparison to the newest wearable, the Apple watch. Yet in 1975, this watch was revolutionary, allowing wearers to solve math problems on the go. Now we have a calculator, phone, music device and so much more all in one device in our pockets. Technology is already evolving to keep people constantly connected to each other and their devices.

Wearable Technology: Shaping the Future of Your Health Care

8 Reasons Why Doctors Stand Behind Wearable Technology

Do wearables belong in the doctors’ office? Many more doctors are saying yes. More than 60 percent of doctors recommended their patients use a wearable.

Self-Awareness

Our minds are powerful organs, capable of amazing things, even convincing ourselves we are more active then we truly are. You may exercise three times a week, but is it an effective workout? Are you getting the daily 10,000 steps doctors recommend? With a wearable, patients are more aware than ever of their habits, exercise efforts and progress. Using a wearable takes the guesswork out of your fitness progress.

Objective Data

Have you ever visited the doctor and felt unsure of how to answer questions regarding exercise routines and daily activity? You are not alone. While any general information is useful to your doctor, wearables are able to provide a clear, objective picture of your activity level, making it much easier for your provider to gather accurate information.

Health Management

Leading an active lifestyle is imperative for a long, healthy life. Finding the motivation to eat well and remain active can be difficult. Wearables allow users to set goals, reminders and incentives to stay on the path of healthy living.

Weight Loss

Losing weight is unique for every person. No one workout or diet works for everyone. Through the use of wearables and their apps, you can personalize your weight, height, weight-loss goals and much more. Obesity is a growing problem for the United States and there is a push to promote physical activity. Wearables allow you to see the steps you take, the types of food you eat and track your weight loss every week.

Trend Identification

Identifying your activity trends directly correlates to your diet. The more active you are, the more fuel your body needs. The less active your lifestyle, the less energy your body needs. Wearables allow the user to track his or her activity every day and plan meals around his or her activity level. Instead of approximating the amount of time you worked out, or the steps you took, you have a readily available record.

Motivation

Doing it alone makes working out hard. Having a friend or motivator to encourage you can keep you on track. It is difficult to plan workouts and meals with your friend or motivator if he or she has a different schedule and set of priorities. Wearables are the new motivators. Users are able to set reminders and are alerted if they sit too long. Seeing progress is motivating!

Adherence

By setting goals and timelines, wearable users are more likely to stick to a regimen. It can take anywhere between 21-66 days to acquire a new habit. Using wearable technology assists in adherence to a new regimen and, hopefully, makes it a new habit.

Accountability

Instead of speculating on the number of steps you took during the day, or how many minutes you worked out and what rate your heart reached during a run, a wearable does the work for you. There is no assumption in the steps you’ve taken: it’s tracked. Remaining accountable and honest with yourself about your progress will keep you on the right track.

How Wearables are Influencing Health Care Today

Many large companies and organizations are beginning to encourage the use of wearables. Some corporations offer incentives for those who use wearables and track their fitness. The latest craze is using information from your wearable to reduce health insurance premiums. Because this practice is implemented by larger companies, it is becoming more popular.

While companies are using wearables to reduce health insurance costs, the health care industry is finding new ways to use wearables to track their patients’ recovery. In 2013, Mayo Clinic gave Fitbit trackers to 150 heart surgery patients. They used the wearables to encourage patients to remain active during recovery. Those who were more active were released earlier from the office than those who weren’t.

Wearables are also a great resource for health care researchers who can pull information from a wide pool of data: all wearable users. Researchers can study sleep patterns and regional fitness trends. The possibilities seem endless!

The Best Wearable and Fitness App For You

Overall Best Fitness Tracker

If you are looking for a fitness tracker with the whole nine yards, the Fitbit Charge HR is for you. This is the second most advanced product coming from Fitbit, including fitness tracking, sleep patterns, heart rate and even monitoring your calls. This tracker is best for someone who leads an active lifestyle.

Best Wearable for Runners

The leading contender for this race is the Fitbit Surge. This is not a fitness tracker for the light-hearted. If you are serious runner and training for half or full marathons, this is the tracker you want on your wrist.

Most Fashionable Wearable

Love the idea of a wearable but not the look? Misfit trackers have released a new line called Swarovski Shine. This wearable is designed to look like a blinged-out bracelet, with all the benefits of a typical fitness tracker.

Best Fitness Tracker on a Tight Budget

Wearables are becoming more and more common, but investing in an expensive fitness tracker may not be in your budget. If you are looking for the best tracker for a reasonable price the Misfit Flash is your best option. This Misfit has the same features as the more expensive Swarovski Shine, comes in a variety of colors, and can be used in the pool!

Discuss Wearables with Your UnityPoint Clinic Provider

As wearables become more and more advanced, discussing their purpose and usefulness with your doctor is important. Communication about what information and data is helpful to the doctor’s assessment of your health is essential. Through the use of wearables, you are now able to play an active role in understanding and interpreting your own health. Working together with your provider, you can set up the best health plan for your future!