In the era of tech and data, the advent of the wearable device is a part of most of our lives already but it’s going to be increasingly so in the future. Whatever you think about this subject, it’s undeniable that tech can and should enhance our lives and our health for the better. In a fast-evolving world, struggling with the health crises facing us, there is a reinforced importance placed on managing our own health better.
Accountability and Honesty
One of the questions we always ask a client coming to start a training programme is: How often do you exercise, do this, do that etc? There is never an honest answer, not because there is necessarily an intention to mislead, in most cases, but because we cannot remember and/or the answer will reflect our best-case scenario. We all have enough to think about in our daily lives, so remembering what we did and when is a struggle at the best of times, so if we can use devices to aid us in our daily lives and positively change the efficacy of what we do, why wouldn’t we think that was a good thing.
If we had the opportunity, as we do, to keep a record of our activity that is pretty much done for us, with little or no administrative effort, like a super-efficient and productive PA, most of us would jump at the opportunity.
Motivation, Competition and Fun
If you didn’t have an alarm clock, would you ever get up on time? Hardly ever, right? You’d miss important meetings and work regularly and would have been fired from jobs more times than an arse slapped at an S&M convention.
If you’re worried about big brother prying into your health stats and denying you medical cover on your insurance, you can do something about that (apart from moving health insurer or discarding it altogether) and that’s where a wearable device can motivate you to do more (or irritate you to death!).
“I’m not competitive….” What a load of [suitable analogy here]…
We are all competitive animals but most of us probably compete only in areas we think we can win, and this is one of those because, guess what, you can compete against yourself, and then once you’re confidence is up a bit you can start to compare and compete against friends and family, and enjoy the warm, smug glow of superiority when, if only for a fleeting moment, you are on top! Wearable health devices can enable you to be competitive, to test yourself and keep your friends and family on their toes and healthier too.
The Hare lost to the Tortoise..
The 100m dash is a sprint but life is much more of a marathon. If you cut corners, you’re going to get disqualified, and if you don’t put in the work you won’t complete the course. Little and often is always better than bingeing, which will either make you unwell or will be unsustainable. We all look in the mirror from time to time and we don’t like what we see, but with sustained and regular steps, runs, cycles, treks, swims and play, and assisted by a device which prompts and cajoles us as well as reports on our efforts, improving what we are doing is readily achievable.
Watches v Strap
There are plenty of options for you to choose from, embedding a chip is also coming soon, if that’s your bag, but generally speaking you can choose between a chest strap and a wrist watch or device.
Evidence proves that a chest strap for measuring heart rate is more accurate than a wrist watch or device doing the same function, but tremendous strides are being made with watches and the Covid-19 pandemic will be accelerating the development and growth of wearable health products.
Smart watches with compatible health features are more versatile, as well as a range of activities and functions, watches can be worn all day long, to give you an accurate understanding of your total levels of activity, not just your workouts. You can also wear them at night and some will provide information on your sleep patterns by detecting how much you toss (still technically an activity!) & turn.
A chest strap has limited use other than to measure heart rate during a workout, gets sweaty, smelly and the batteries will need to be replaced regularly. If you are worried that a smart watch will constantly bother you with notifications, you can switch these off easily. I have an Apple watch and I only use it for activity tracking, and to remind me to answer my phone when it’s on silent mode.
To steal a line from a movie favourite, we are heading towards: “A digital frontier to map the human condition” (as uttered by Kevin Flynn played by Jeff Bridges in Tron & Tron Legacy). It’s coming and you will probably be connected at some point if you aren’t already. Personally, It’s very empowering to take control of your health and wellbeing by being accountable to yourself, understanding how your choices affect your successes and enabling action to reinforce or counter negative practices. By using technology, as developments create better health solutions, we can ensure habits and behaviours that will benefit us and help us to live healthier, happier, longer and more productive lives.
Best wearable options
Make sure what you get links to an App, so that you can easily see and track your progress. Below is a small selection of best brands to choose from. All come in a range of colours and designs to suit most tastes:
1. Apple Watch
The author is a former UK Decathlon champion. Alexei wears and tracks his activity and workouts daily using a smart-watch.