It wasn’t all that way back when all “wearable fitness technology” meant was a easy pedometer—succesful solely of measuring a person’s step rely. But now? Technology has superior so considerably that there are two separate classes of wearables:
- “Traditional” health trackers: Capable of monitoring exercise, steps, pace, sleep, coronary heart price, blood stress, and respiration.
- Smartwatches: Beyond 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 in regards to the prospect of getting your shopper to purchase one so that they’d keep motivated and on monitor to achieve their health targets?
Well … you would possibly need to maintain off that thought for a short time.
Yes, health wearables can present precious well being insights and, thus, function a motivating issue. But 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 resolve if it’s appropriate on your shopper.
Daily Step Count
You’re possible no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive degree of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry on your shopper: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and demise from all causes are only a few examples.
The solely 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.
While your shopper 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 encourage them into getting off their sofa and hitting the beneficial 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day.
However, 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.
Unfortunately, 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).
Here are a couple of ideas that’ll assist your shopper maximize the accuracy of their each day step counts:
- Wear on the nondominant hand: Your shopper’s dominant hand will possible be extra lively (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there will likely be extra alternatives for errors.
- Ensure a decent 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 can 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 may help them get a greater sense of their calorie steadiness—which is especially essential for shoppers seeking to reduce weight.
A disclaimer, although: Activity trackers and smartwatches are notoriously inaccurate at counting energy burned throughout train and all through the day.
According to a sequence 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 put that into perspective, a 25% margin of error signifies that your shopper 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 shopper 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 folks are likely 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 in the course of the session.
Of course, the accuracy of your shopper’s health wearable at estimating vitality expenditure is just about past your management. But what you are able to do, as an alternative, is to have your shopper monitor their meals consumption. This decreases the chance of them over-compensating for his or her bodily exercise. And talking of which …
Thanks to app integrations, many smartwatches may help make nutrition-tracking so simple as tapping a couple of buttons.
An apparent upside related to that is it empowers your shopper 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 offers your shopper with a transparent thought of the place their “problem areas” are—and the place to make adjustments.
However, it’s additionally price noting that discovering a diet app that precisely stories energy is an arduous job. A 2019 research, discovered that each one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) did not characterize numerous dietary info precisely.
Honestly, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
Instead of viewing diet logging as a instrument to trace absolutely the values of energy, you may—as an alternative—assist your shopper see it as a instrument to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for individuals who’re not seeking to reduce weight).
Take this 2013 research printed within the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, for instance.
Researchers discovered that individuals who tracked their food regimen for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did firstly of the research.
Look Out for Signs of Obsession
Beyond knowledge accuracy points, although, one of the vital vital 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 optimistic affect on well being can change into a breeding floor for orthorexia.
Several research have now discovered that using tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) could possibly be linked to disordered consuming. That’s why it’s best to keep away from recommending health wearables for any shopper who has a historical past of consuming issues.
Also, you should definitely 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 periods in per week) to extend their calorie burn?
If so, you would possibly need 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 belongings you see your shopper doing are simply the signs of one thing deeper (e.g., an unhealthy relationship with meals).
Before getting your shoppers to hop on the health wearables pattern, it’s important to ask, “why do they need one?” and “how are they using it?” An exercise tracker or smartwatch could be a useful instrument to assist your shopper find out about their each day exercise ranges, diet standing, and extra.
But if utilized in an obsessive method to achieve “absolute control” over numerous features of their each 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 on your shoppers. That manner, they’ll make an knowledgeable resolution for themselves.