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? Expertise has superior so considerably that there are two separate classes of wearables:
- “Conventional” health trackers: Able to monitoring exercise, steps, velocity, sleep, coronary heart fee, blood stress, and respiratory.
- Smartwatches: Past monitoring well being and health information, 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 in regards to the prospect of getting your consumer to purchase one so that they’d stay motivated and on track to reach their fitness goals?
Properly … 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 show you how to determine if it’s appropriate on your consumer.
Each day Step Depend
You are possible no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive degree of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry on your consumer: much less danger of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and loss of life from all causes are just a few examples.
The one downside? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your consumer will possible spend the higher a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health expertise is available in.
Whereas your consumer might 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 actually inspire them into getting off their sofa and hitting the really useful 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 number 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 vulnerable to registering steps in error from delicate actions (e.g., washing palms, making ready meals, or utilizing the pc mouse) and even vibrations that have an effect on the physique (e.g., from using in a automobile).
Listed below are a number of suggestions that’ll assist your consumer maximize the accuracy of their day by day step counts:
- Put on on the nondominant hand: Your consumer’s dominant hand will possible be extra energetic (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there can 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 occasions: If potential, 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 rely.
Many health trackers may assist your consumer calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this might help them get a greater sense of their calorie stability—which is especially vital for purchasers trying to shed weight.
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 series of studies from 2017, almost 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 management specialist, let’s say you’ve decided that your consumer would do greatest by consuming 300 energy fewer than their complete day by 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, research additionally reveals that folks are inclined to reward themselves with decadent meals and huge parts after exercising (notably cardio)—and that they usually eat again all of (if no more than) the energy they burned throughout the session.
In fact, 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 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 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 affects them.
In flip, this supplies your consumer with a transparent thought of the place their “downside areas” are—and the place to make modifications.
Nonetheless, it is also value noting that discovering a vitamin app that precisely experiences energy is an arduous job. A 2019 study, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) did not signify numerous dietary info precisely.
Truthfully, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As a substitute of viewing vitamin logging as a device to trace absolutely the values of energy, you may—as an alternative—assist your consumer see it as a device to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for many who’re not trying to shed weight).
Take this 2013 study revealed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Vitamin and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that individuals who tracked their weight loss plan for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did firstly of the research.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past information accuracy points, although, one of the crucial 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.
Several studies have now discovered that using tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) may very well 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, you’ll want to look out for unhealthy behaviors in purchasers 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?
In that case, you may need to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, in fact, a significantly better choice can be to encourage them to seek professional help—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 purchasers 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 generally is a useful device to assist your consumer find out about their day by day exercise ranges, vitamin standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to achieve “absolute management” over numerous facets 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 purchasers. That means, they’ll make an knowledgeable resolution for themselves.