Remember when tracking our daily step total started to be a thing? “How many steps did you get in today?” became as common as “How are you?” or “What did you do last night?”
Striving for 10,000 steps a day became the gold standard. It meant you walked about 5 miles, which created an opportunity to lose about a pound a week, if other diet and exercise routines stayed the same.
Most people were tracking these steps with pedometers, on their smartphones or on fitness trackers, even sharing their results on social media when their daily step count soared to bragging levels.
For many, this tally was their first foray into wearable technology, but it was just a literal first step. Today, the number of wearable tech options designed specifically to help you track and improve your health is mind-boggling, with more features and gadgets coming on the market every day.
What are wearables?
Wearable tech, or simply “wearables”, includes sleep trackers you wear on your wrist, smart watches with an endless buffet of digital features and app access, activity trackers and even tech designed specifically for women’s health, including planners that pinpoint ovulation and PMS windows.
Wearable tech was named the top global fitness trend for 2020. Holiday Zanetti, a senior research scientist and clinical investigator for Nutrilite, believes it will remain an important fitness and health trend for at least the next decade.
Studies in the U.S. have shown that wearable tech use has more than tripled recently, growing from 9% of consumers using them in 2014 to 33% in 2018. And 75% of those surveyed saying they’d be willing to wear a device that helps them track their health data.
This boom has companies and insurers taking notice and, in some cases, encouraging employees to improve their health via fitness tracking.
How to choose wearable technology
For most people, wearable tech is a fitness tracker, a smart watch, a smartphone, or another digital gadget that you wear on your wrist or slip in your pocket for the day. Some, like sleep trackers, are worn overnight as well.
If wearable tech is a trend you want to follow, or get deeper into, the goal will be to choose what information you want to collect. Then, find a tech piece that gathers that data, is comfortable and fits your personal style. After all, you should be using it every day.
Let’s look at some of the things you can track with wearable tech, with the goal of helping you improve your health and make smarter choices.
Many of us already have our smartphones set up to dim the screen at a certain time each night or send us bedtime reminders to help us get enough sleep. But sleep trackers are wearable devices—they can look like a slim bracelet or watch band—that you keep on while you sleep.
They are designed to collect information on how many hours you’re actually sleeping and possibly offer insight into your deep-sleep and REM-sleep patterns. Some even claim to assess your blood-oxygen level while you’re sleeping, to help identify any chronic problems like sleep apnea.
While the medical community has mixed feelings about how much in-depth data sleep trackers are actually able to gather, there’s agreement that any data is a good starting point for a conversation with your doctor if you feel like you’re having trouble sleeping.
Whether you’re a fan of Apple® or Android®, you can now find on your wrist what you used to have to scroll through on your phones. This includes GPS, music, texts, making calls and even tapping their virtual assistants for help.
Smart watches are an extension of your smartphone, but the latest in smart watches revolve around health and fitness. Depending on the brand you select, you can have information about your heart rate and an electrocardiogram feature at your fingertips. Some will even alert you to a sudden irregular heartbeat.
You can set up these devices to track your daily, weekly or monthly activity trends—from calories burned to how much water you’re drinking—and alert you if you’re falling behind your goals.
Some have pre-built workout plans for everything from running to cycling to yoga that can be called up with a few taps. Others allow you to access an array of third-party fitness apps to find the one that’s right for you, including weight loss apps like BodyKey™ SmartLoss™.
Fitness trackers, like smart watches, are typically worn on your wrist and collect and deliver all the data around your health and fitness—sleep, calories, activity, etc.
The difference is they are not an extension of your smartphone. While many connect to an app your phone and might alert you to an incoming call or text, you can’t access your other apps and programs through them.
Reproductive health trackers
There are a growing number of apps that help women track their reproductive health. Some come built-in to smart watches and other wearable wrist devices. Others can be downloaded separately.
Users can input basic information on menstrual cycles, moods, sleep habits and cramps and be given information on each month’s likely ovulation dates, fertility windows and the expected timing of the next period. This can be helpful if you’re trying to conceive or just gathering information for your next doctor’s appointment.
Wearable technology of the future
Not all wearable tech has to look like a smart watch. At the recent national Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, companies were showing off pendants and bracelets that can monitor blood pressure. There was also clothing, like vests and shirts, that can monitor heart rate, blood pressure and even send an alert if the wearer falls or needs assistance. There were even clothes that changed color depending on your mood.
And there were nighttime wearables that gently vibrate if a person starts to snore, waking them up enough so they can shift position.
Industry enthusiasts believe we’re just crossing the doorway into an exciting time for wearable tech and these innovations are just the beginning.
Want to learn more about health and fitness trends? Check out our other blogs at Amway Connections.