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 depend. 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 price, blood strain, and respiratory.
- 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 consumer to purchase one in order that they’d keep motivated and on monitor to succeed in their health targets?
Properly … you would possibly wish to maintain off that thought for a short time.
Sure, health wearables can present helpful 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 assist you resolve if it’s appropriate on your consumer.
Day by day Step Rely
You’re doubtless no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive stage of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry on your consumer: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are just some examples.
The one drawback? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your consumer will doubtless spend the better a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health expertise is available in.
Whereas your consumer 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 encourage them into getting off their sofa and hitting the really helpful 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day.
Nonetheless, this additionally brings up a con of utilizing health wearables: They’re recognized to undercount, or arguably worse, overcount the variety of steps a consumer takes in a day.
Smartwatches and exercise trackers use movement sensors to find out step depend.
Sadly, that additionally signifies that they’re vulnerable to registering steps in error from delicate actions (e.g., washing arms, making ready meals, or utilizing the pc mouse) and even vibrations that have an effect on the physique (e.g., from driving in a automobile).
Listed below are a number of suggestions that’ll assist your consumer maximize the accuracy of their each day step counts:
- Put on on the nondominant hand: Your consumer’s dominant hand will doubtless be extra energetic (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there shall be extra alternatives for errors.
- Guarantee a decent match across the wrist: If the health wearable flops round in your consumer’s wrist, they’re extra more likely to get false step counts.
- Log non-active instances: If attainable, have your consumer 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 depend.
Many health trackers may assist your consumer calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this may help them get a greater sense of their calorie stability—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.
In line with a collection of research 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 consumer solely burned 2,000 energy—although their exercise tracker (or smartwatch) tells them that they’ve burned 2,500 energy.
As a weight administration specialist, let’s say you’ve decided that your consumer would do finest by consuming 300 energy fewer than their complete each 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, analysis additionally exhibits that folks are inclined to reward themselves with decadent meals and enormous parts after exercising (notably cardio)—and that they usually eat again all of (if no more than) the energy they burned throughout the session.
After all, the accuracy of your consumer’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 consumer monitor their meals consumption. This decreases the chance of them over-compensating for his or her bodily exercise. And talking of which …
Because of app integrations, many smartwatches may help make nutrition-tracking so simple as tapping a number of buttons.
An apparent upside related to that is it empowers your consumer with the data of what they’re placing into their our bodies (e.g., variety of energy, macronutrient break up, nutritional vitamins, and minerals), plus how that impacts them.
In flip, this supplies your consumer with a transparent concept of the place their “drawback areas” are—and the place to make modifications.
Nonetheless, it’s additionally value noting that discovering a diet app that precisely stories energy is an arduous job. A 2019 research, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) didn’t characterize varied dietary info precisely.
Actually, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As a substitute of viewing diet logging as a instrument to trace absolutely the values of energy, you possibly can—as a substitute—assist your consumer see it as a instrument to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for individuals who’re not trying to drop some pounds).
Take this 2013 research revealed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Diet and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that contributors who tracked their weight loss plan for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did initially of the research.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past knowledge accuracy points, although, one of the vital important cons to contemplate 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 constructive affect on well being can develop into a breeding floor for orthorexia.
A number of research have now discovered that the usage of tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) may very well be linked to disordered consuming. That’s why you must keep away from recommending health wearables for any consumer who has a historical past of consuming problems.
Additionally, make sure to 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 would possibly wish to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, in fact, a significantly better possibility could be to encourage them to search skilled assist—as a result of, usually, the stuff you see your consumer 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 development, it’s important to ask, “why do they want one?” and “how are they utilizing it?” An exercise tracker or smartwatch is usually a useful instrument to assist your consumer find out about their each day exercise ranges, diet standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to achieve “absolute management” over varied features of their each day life, it might find yourself doing extra hurt than good.
That’s why you must all the time undergo the method of weighing the professionals and cons on your shoppers. That approach, they’ll make an knowledgeable determination for themselves.