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, velocity, sleep, coronary heart charge, blood strain, and respiratory.
- Smartwatches: Past monitoring well being and health knowledge, smartwatches additionally provide smartphone options, like texting, calling, and different app integrations.
As such, pondering 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 so that they’d keep motivated and on observe to succeed in their health targets?
Nicely … you may need to maintain off that thought for a short while.
Sure, health wearables can present invaluable 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 show you how to resolve if it’s appropriate to your shopper.
Each day Step Rely
You are possible no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive stage of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can deliver to your shopper: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are just some examples.
The one downside? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your shopper will possible spend the better a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health expertise is available in.
Whereas your shopper 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 really inspire them into getting off their sofa and hitting the really useful 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 variety of steps a shopper 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 delicate actions (e.g., washing arms, 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 just a few 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 possible be extra energetic (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there might 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 instances: If potential, have your shopper log their earlier than and after step counts once they spend an prolonged interval being inactive (e.g., working). They’ll then deduct the “false steps” from their day’s whole rely.
Many health trackers can even assist your shopper 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.
Based on 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 implies 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 administration specialist, let’s say you’ve decided that your shopper would do greatest by consuming 300 energy fewer than their whole 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, analysis additionally exhibits that individuals are likely to reward themselves with decadent meals and huge parts after exercising (significantly cardio)—and that they usually eat again all of (if no more than) the energy they burned in the course of 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 observe their meals consumption. This decreases the probability 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 just a few buttons.
An apparent upside related to that is it empowers your shopper with the information of what they’re placing into their our bodies (e.g., variety of energy, macronutrient cut up, nutritional vitamins, and minerals), plus how that impacts them.
In flip, this supplies your shopper with a transparent concept of the place their “downside areas” are—and the place to make adjustments.
Nevertheless, it is also price noting that discovering a diet app that precisely studies energy is an arduous job. A 2019 examine, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) didn’t symbolize numerous dietary data precisely.
Truthfully, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As a substitute of viewing diet logging as a device to trace absolutely the values of energy, you may—as a substitute—assist your shopper see it as a device to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for individuals 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 contributors who tracked their weight loss program for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did at first of the examine.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past knowledge accuracy points, although, one of the essential 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 turn into 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 it’s best to keep away from recommending health wearables for any shopper who has a historical past of consuming problems.
Additionally, remember to look out for unhealthy behaviors in shoppers who have already got a health tracker.
Do they get anxious once they fail to burn the identical variety of energy they did within the earlier session? Are they making drastic adjustments 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 choice can be to encourage them to search skilled assist—as a result of, usually, 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 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 device to assist your shopper study their day by day exercise ranges, diet standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to realize “absolute management” over numerous elements of their day by day life, it might find yourself doing extra hurt than good.
That’s why it’s best to at all times undergo the method of weighing the professionals and cons to your shoppers. That method, they’ll make an knowledgeable choice for themselves.