You Are What You Wear(able)!

Technology has produced remarkable cultural changes over the last few years, including major innovations in health and wellness. Whether it is sleep, diet, exercise, fitness, stress, or anything else – you can be sure of one thing!…

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                                                                 There’s an app for that!

Because these devices are designed to be with us everywhere – even to the extent of being integrated with what we wear in our daily lives, they have come to be called ‘Wearable Tech’, or simply

Wearables

The growth and development of these devices from simple mechanical to complex digital technology is fascinating, and I plan to cover this in later posts. Today, however I will be talking about a kind of wearable you have probably already seen hundreds of times – even if you didn’t realize it!
Over last few years, a growing number of people have been walking, running or cycling around wearing interesting looking bands on their wrists. Most of these resemble watches, however the apparent familiarity and simplicity of their outward design hides a huge and growing internal capability!

Wearable devices
                                                            What time is it – and what else is it?

Gone are the days when the only reason to look down at your wrist was to check the time!  Today, this is the very least of what is available to you – all at the tips of your fingers – literally! With just a tap or touch of a button you can see how many steps you have taken, how far you have walked, how well you slept last night, how many calories you have burned, how many stairs you’ve climbed, and much, much more!

… processing … processing … processing … processing … processing … processing …

The ‘world of wearables’ began with a relatively small ‘ambition’: to track certain aspects of fitness and wellness. Today however, with the rapidly expanding reach of technology, wearables are no longer confined to fitness bands and smart watches: they are expending into healthcare.

BP-StressThere are now apps for tracking and monitoring medical outcomes such as blood glucose, blood pressure, blood alcohol level and ECG. Other apps and devices can track breathing, monitor heart rate, or sense stress.

I will be featuring medical and health apps in a later post. In the meantime if you would like to read more about the growth of ‘Wearable Tech’, here’s a great Huffington Post article http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/wearable-tech/

“What shall I wear today?” has taken on a whole new meaning!

By The Way, these ‘tracking devices’ are not only for fitness fanatics… they provide important and practical information even for those of us who would rather do just about anything than go for a run or go to the gym!

If you are one of those individuals, here is some basic information about that training buddy on your wrist. It may put you in a positive frame of mind about being active!

The 3 questions I am always asked about Wearables for activity tracking

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Question 1. How much is enough?
In other words, “How many steps do I need to do” (or even, “What’s the least number of steps I need to do?!”). The true answer to this is “It depends”. For example, you will probably read that 10,000 steps per day is recommended for almost every wearable on the market – as well as on most Internet sources. However, the origins of 10,000 steps do not come from science. The first ‘trackers’ were actually called ‘pedometers’ because all they did was simply record – through a novel, but mechanical process – how many steps you took. Pedometers were first commercially developed and sold in Japan. They were marketed under the name ‘Manpo-kei’, which translates to ‘10,000 steps meter’. No information so far as to where that number originated, but it clearly resonated with people and, over time, has become the assumed (though unscientific) standard.

FYI, the average US adult walks about 5900 steps per day

In reality there is no ‘one size fits all’ where walking is concerned!

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Question 2. Where should I start?
It’s all relative! If you are already active, by all means use the ‘default’ 10,000 steps goal as your template. If you are new to exercise however, 10,000 steps is likely to be a little intimidating to begin, so here’s a step by step approach I helped to develop while a post-doc at the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention. This can work with everyone’s activity or fitness levels.
1. Track your actual steps for 3 days
2. Take the average of those three days and use that as your baseline.
3. Set your daily goal as 1000 steps beyond your baseline
4. Walk!
5. Look for ways to include more steps in your daily activities
6. Increase your daily goal by ~1000 steps as you continue to achieve your goals and accumulate more steps

NOTE: Because most wearables these days have wireless connectivity, you even get your own web-based ‘Dashboard’. When you log in you are able to track and compare your own activity history, as well as connect and compare with other users! On some sites you can issue challenges and earn achievement badges!

Wearables line 1Q

Question 3. Do wearables really work?
The short answer to this question is an unqualified YES! Using a device that provides information and feedback about how active you are is a little like having a training buddy. This is a proven method of staying active longer. When you are able to share this information, and compare results, with other wearable users (something now possible with digital and wireless accelerometers) the ‘training buddy’ effect is strengthened even more! In addition to this, dozens of research studies have confirmed the benefits of using wearables, including a recent review of all wearable studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.38.40 PMWearables are “Associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure.”

Based on this research, here’s my Take Home Message
If you…
♦ Struggle with staying active, even though you know it is ‘good for you’.
♦ Have been told by your doctor that you need to be more active.
♦ Find it particularly challenging to remain active over the holidays.

smartwatch-828786_1920A Wearable can help you to overcome those barriers!

But wait… there’s more!

There are now apps that can work with your wearable and enable you to be even more successful in your quest for a more active lifestyle.

I will describe one of the most effective of these ‘apps’ in my next post!

QUESTION:
What kind of wearable do you see yourself wearing?

Be part of the conversation – record your thoughts or opinions on this post in the comments box below – or ask a question of your own.

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