Let’s explore some of the wearables currently on the market and discuss how making lifestyle shifts using the data they provide may mean you not only look and feel better today, but also avoid chronic disease down the road. Do you use wearables to track your health? These devices can help you hit your wellness goals—when they’re tracking the right things. Check out this article for my recommendation on the best tech to track your sleep, stress, and activity levels.
What Are Wearables, and Do We Really Need More Technology?
Wearables are smart electronic devices that can be worn on the body to track a variety of health markers, such as:
- Activity level: time spent sedentary, number of steps taken, etc.
- Sleep patterns
- Resting heart rate and heart rate variability
- Stress level
- Body temperature
A wide range of wearable health devices are available, from watches to rings—even shirts. I suspect we’ll see much more innovation in the coming years. After all, the industry is booming: analysts predict that more than 245 million devices will be purchased this year alone. Sales of smartwatches like the Apple Watch and products by Garmin, along with Fitbit’s watches and other fitness trackers, are on the rise, making these some of the most popular options today.
I see wearable health trackers as effective tools in your behavior-change toolkit. In this way, they integrate well into a Functional Medicine approach to healthcare. In Functional Medicine, we believe that for patients to overcome a persistent ailment, they must shift their behavior; we also know that behavior plays a major role in preventing—or contributing to—chronic disease.
To succeed in adopting new, healthier habits, I encourage you to combine wearable technology with the shrinking the change technique. For example, if your big objective is to get more regular physical activity, use a wearable to help break that change into smaller, more achievable goals. The right fitness tracker can nudge you to take breaks if you sit at your desk all day and stand, stretch, or move; to get in your daily steps; to schedule a regular run, bike ride, or other workout of your choice, etc. And it will record this physical activity in real time—daily data you can use to celebrate each incremental win, as you get closer and closer to your big objective.
It may seem ironic to use technology to create more balance in your life. But technology is just a tool, and it’s up to us how we employ it. I’m a big fan of using technologies like these to create harmony through healthy habits.