The digital health revolution is democratizing the way Americans interact with healthcare. Tracking and monitoring your health using mobile apps and wearable devices has never been easier, and each day developers are finding new ways to help you take control of your well-being. These are some of the amazing health technologies that can change your life.
Health Tech Made for Everyone
There are a number of health technologies on the market right now. Here are just a few of the most used items:
Roughly 35% of Americans owned a smartphone in 2011. Today, that number has grown to 81%. The dramatic rise of smartphones spurred the proliferation of mobile applications. Scroll through the app store and you’ll find an app for anything. Monitor your daily step count, your average calorie count, sleep patterns, and stress levels.
We’ve become increasingly sedentary over the years. As a result, chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes, are on the rise. However, motivation to get and stay healthy can be hard to find.
Mobile health apps reduce some of these barriers to getting healthy and/or maintaining health. For example, one app motivates you to increase your step count by donating money to a charity of your choice for every mile walked. More walking improves your cardiovascular fitness and giving back boosts self-esteem, mood, and lowers stress levels. It’s a win-win!
Can’t make it to the gym? Don’t have enough time? Some apps provide personal training on-the-go. Plus, they’re typically a fraction of the cost of an in-person training session.
Some apps are great educational tools. There are several nutrition apps on the market that allow you to track your nutrient and calorie intake and learn how to make healthy food choices. Some even allow you to scan barcodes to view nutritional information.
Leonardo da Vinci created the first pedometer around 1735. The large contraption attached to the hip and thigh and looked something like a reel lawnmower.
Pedometers are the foundation of many fitness trackers today. Instead of hauling a large mower-sized contraption like da Vinci, wearable devices, such as smartwatches and fitness bands make it easy to monitor your daily step count.
But fitness trackers aren’t just for measuring steps anymore. These tiny devices are capable of assessing your heart rate, sleep patterns, calories, and skin temperature. Objective data can help you determine if you’re getting enough exercise and eating the right things. Seeing your health numbers every day keeps you accountable and glued to a fitness routine.
With so many on the market, choosing the right device can be difficult. Do you want to monitor your heart rate? Are you tracking sleep? Should it be waterproof? Is it phone compatible? How much are you willing to spend? These are all things you need to consider when purchasing a fitness tracker.
Weight isn’t always the best indicator of health, which is why today’s scales do more than just measure pounds. Unlike traditional scales, smart scales use bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) to measure body mass index (BMI), muscle mass, and bone density. BIA determines body composition by how long it takes an electrical current to pass through the body’s blood, tissue, and bone.
Smart scales vary by price, max users, measures provided, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi compatibility. Some scales even contain pregnancy mode, which takes into account the normal weight changes of pregnancy.
Over a third of American adults don’t get the required seven hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep is linked to obesity, diabetes and glucose intolerance, heart disease, hypertension, anxiety, and depression.
Sleep trackers are a good way to discover and monitor sleep irregularities, which can later be shared with a doctor if needed. Some sleep trackers are wearable while others sit below your mattress or beside your bed.
Some common features of sleep trackers include:
- Sleep duration and quality: Sleep trackers use accelerometers to measure inactivity throughout the night. A constant motion may indicate poor sleep quality.
- Sleep phases: Trackers with heart rate and respiration monitors provide more accurate results compared to those with just accelerometers. Changes in heart and respiratory rates during sleep are strongly associated with the different sleep phases. Changes or anomalies in respiration may indicate sleep disorders such as snoring or sleep apnea.
- Environment: Some sleep trackers measure environmental factors, such as temperature, light levels, and noise levels.
- Lifestyle: Some devices record lifestyle factors, such as caffeine intake and physical activity that affect sleep patterns.
While sleep trackers can be a useful tool, serious sleep problems, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, should be assessed by a professional.
Final Thoughts from USHEALTH Group
Health tech and wearable devices are a good way to take control of your health. Monitoring your blood pressure, step count, calories, and sleep can provide valuable insights into your overall health. Be sure to consult with a doctor if you have any health concerns.