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 strain, 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 actually a problem. Now, did that get you all excited in regards to the prospect of getting your consumer to purchase one so that they’d keep motivated and on monitor to achieve their health objectives?
Properly … you would possibly wish to maintain off that thought for a short while.
Sure, health wearables can present priceless 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 determine if it’s appropriate to your consumer.
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 to your consumer: much less danger of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are only a few 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 might suspect that they’re usually inactive all through the day, seeing the precise variety of steps they take from a full day of staying in (e.g., 500) can actually encourage them into getting off their sofa and hitting the advisable 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day.
Nonetheless, this additionally brings up a con of utilizing health wearables: They’re identified 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 rely.
Sadly, that additionally implies that they’re susceptible to registering steps in error from refined actions (e.g., washing palms, getting 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 here are a number of ideas 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 lively (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 prone 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 will then deduct the “false steps” from their day’s whole rely.
Many health trackers also can assist your consumer calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this can assist them get a greater sense of their calorie stability—which is especially vital 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 response to a collection of research from 2017, practically all health wearable gadgets 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 implies that your consumer solely burned 2,000 energy—though 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 whole each day vitality 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 individuals are inclined to reward themselves with decadent meals and enormous parts after exercising (significantly 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 vitality expenditure is just about past your management. However what you are able to do, as an alternative, 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 …
Due to app integrations, many smartwatches can assist make nutrition-tracking so simple as tapping a number of buttons.
An apparent upside related to that is it empowers your consumer with the information 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 offers your consumer with a transparent concept of the place their “drawback areas” are—and the place to make modifications.
Nonetheless, it is also value noting that discovering a vitamin app that precisely reviews energy is an arduous job. A 2019 examine, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) did not signify varied dietary info 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 could possibly—as an alternative—assist your consumer see it as a instrument to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for many who’re not trying to drop some pounds).
Take this 2013 examine printed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Diet and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that members who tracked their food plan 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, probably the most crucial 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 constructive affect on well being can turn out to be a breeding floor for orthorexia.
A number of research have now discovered that the usage of tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) could possibly be linked to disordered consuming. That is why you need to keep away from recommending health wearables for any consumer who has a historical past of consuming issues.
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 every week) to extend their calorie burn?
If that’s the case, you would possibly wish to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, after all, a a lot better choice can be to encourage them to search skilled assist—as a result of, usually, the belongings 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, vitamin standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to achieve “absolute management” over varied features of their each day life, it may find yourself doing extra hurt than good.
That’s why you need to all the time undergo the method of weighing the professionals and cons to your shoppers. That method, they’ll make an knowledgeable resolution for themselves.