It wasn’t all that way back when all “wearable health expertise” meant was a easy pedometer—succesful solely of measuring a person’s step rely. However now? Know-how has superior so considerably that there are two separate classes of wearables:
- “Conventional” health trackers: Able to monitoring exercise, steps, pace, sleep, coronary heart charge, blood stress, and respiration.
- Smartwatches: Past monitoring well being and health knowledge, smartwatches additionally supply smartphone options, like texting, calling, and different app integrations.
As such, considering of one thing health wearables can’t do between the 2 classes is truthfully a problem. Now, did that get you all excited concerning the prospect of getting your shopper to purchase one in order that they’d stay motivated and on track to reach their fitness goals?
Effectively … you may need to maintain off that thought for a short while.
Sure, health wearables can present precious well being insights and, thus, function a motivating issue. However they’re additionally plagued with accuracy and psychological well-being points. So, right here’s a deep dive into the professionals and cons of wearable health expertise—structured round their options—that’ll make it easier to resolve if it’s appropriate on your shopper.
Each day Step Rely
You are doubtless no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive degree of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry on your shopper: much less danger of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are just a few examples.
The one downside? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your shopper will doubtless spend the larger a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health expertise is available in.
Whereas your shopper could suspect that they’re typically inactive all through the day, seeing the precise variety of steps they take from a full day of staying in (e.g., 500) can really inspire them into getting off their sofa and hitting the advisable 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day.
Nevertheless, this additionally brings up a con of utilizing health wearables: They’re identified to undercount, or arguably worse, overcount the number of steps a shopper takes in a day.
Smartwatches and exercise trackers use movement sensors to find out step rely.
Sadly, that additionally signifies that they’re susceptible to registering steps in error from delicate actions (e.g., washing fingers, making ready meals, or utilizing the pc mouse) and even vibrations that have an effect on the physique (e.g., from using in a automotive).
Listed here are a couple of ideas that’ll assist your shopper maximize the accuracy of their day by day step counts:
- Put on on the nondominant hand: Your shopper’s dominant hand will doubtless be extra energetic (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there will likely be extra alternatives for errors.
- Guarantee a good match across the wrist: If the health wearable flops round in your shopper’s wrist, they’re extra more likely to get false step counts.
- Log non-active occasions: If doable, have your shopper log their earlier than and after step counts after they spend an prolonged interval being inactive (e.g., working). They’ll then deduct the “false steps” from their day’s complete rely.
Many health trackers may assist your shopper calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this might help them get a greater sense of their calorie steadiness—which is especially necessary for shoppers trying to drop some pounds.
A disclaimer, although: Exercise trackers and smartwatches are notoriously inaccurate at counting energy burned throughout train and all through the day.
Based on a series of studies from 2017, almost all health wearable units concerned (together with FitBit Surge, Apple Watch, and the Microsoft Band) hovered round a 25% margin of error when counting energy burned.
To place that into perspective, a 25% margin of error signifies that your shopper solely burned 2,000 energy—despite the fact that their exercise tracker (or smartwatch) tells them that they’ve burned 2,500 energy.
As a weight management specialist, let’s say you’ve decided that your shopper would do greatest by consuming 300 energy fewer than their complete day by day power expenditure (TDEE). So, guess how a lot they’re going to eat if their exercise tracker tells them that they’ve burned 2,500 energy? That’s proper: 2,200 energy.
And that, sadly, brings them proper right into a calorie surplus.
Worse nonetheless, research additionally exhibits that individuals are inclined to reward themselves with decadent meals and enormous parts after exercising (notably cardio)—and that they typically eat again all of (if no more than) the energy they burned through the session.
After all, the accuracy of your shopper’s health wearable at estimating power expenditure is just about past your management. However what you are able to do, as a substitute, is to have your shopper monitor their meals consumption. This decreases the probability of them over-compensating for his or her bodily exercise. And talking of which …
Because of app integrations, many smartwatches might help make nutrition-tracking so simple as tapping a couple of buttons.
An apparent upside related to that is it empowers your shopper with the data of what they’re placing into their our bodies (e.g., variety of energy, macronutrient cut up, nutritional vitamins, and minerals), plus how that affects them.
In flip, this supplies your shopper with a transparent thought of the place their “downside areas” are—and the place to make modifications.
Nevertheless, it is also price noting that discovering a vitamin app that precisely stories energy is an arduous activity. A 2019 study, discovered that each one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) did not signify varied dietary data precisely.
Actually, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As a substitute of viewing vitamin logging as a instrument to trace absolutely the values of energy, you would—as a substitute—assist your shopper see it as a instrument to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for individuals who’re not trying to drop some pounds).
Take this 2013 study printed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Vitamin and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that contributors who tracked their weight loss program for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did at the start of the examine.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past knowledge accuracy points, although, one of the important cons to think about about health wearables is the specter of a blurring line between the wholesome use of a health tracker and an unhealthy obsession with the numbers.
What begins as a optimistic affect on well being can change into a breeding floor for orthorexia.
Several studies have now discovered that using tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) might be linked to disordered consuming. That is why you need to keep away from recommending health wearables for any shopper who has a historical past of consuming issues.
Additionally, be sure you look out for unhealthy behaviors in shoppers who have already got a health tracker.
Do they get anxious after they fail to burn the identical variety of energy they did within the earlier session? Are they making drastic modifications to their train routine (e.g., 5 cardio classes in per week) to extend their calorie burn?
In that case, you may need to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, in fact, a a lot better possibility can be to encourage them to seek professional help—as a result of, typically, the stuff you see your shopper doing are simply the signs of one thing deeper (e.g., an unhealthy relationship with meals).
Earlier than getting your shoppers to hop on the health wearables pattern, it’s important to ask, “why do they want one?” and “how are they utilizing it?” An exercise tracker or smartwatch could be a useful instrument to assist your shopper find out about their day by day exercise ranges, vitamin standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to realize “absolute management” over varied features of their day by day life, it may find yourself doing extra hurt than good.
That’s why you need to at all times undergo the method of weighing the professionals and cons on your shoppers. That manner, they will make an knowledgeable resolution for themselves.