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, pace, sleep, coronary heart charge, blood stress, and respiration.
- Smartwatches: Past monitoring well being and health information, smartwatches additionally supply 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 actually a problem. Now, did that get you all excited concerning the prospect of getting your consumer 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 worthwhile 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 provide help to resolve if it’s appropriate in your consumer.
Day by day Step Rely
You are seemingly no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive degree of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry in your consumer: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are just some examples.
The one drawback? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your consumer will seemingly spend the larger a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health expertise is available in.
Whereas your consumer could 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 really inspire them into getting off their sofa and hitting the really helpful 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 vulnerable 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 below are a number of ideas that’ll assist your consumer maximize the accuracy of their every day step counts:
- Put on on the nondominant hand: Your consumer’s dominant hand will seemingly be extra energetic (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 occasions: If potential, have your consumer 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 consumer calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this may help them get a greater sense of their calorie stability—which is especially essential for purchasers seeking 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 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 consumer solely burned 2,000 energy—although 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 every 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 huge parts after exercising (significantly cardio)—and that they typically eat again all of (if no more than) the energy they burned through 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 observe 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 may 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 cut up, nutritional vitamins, and minerals), plus how that impacts them.
In flip, this gives your consumer with a transparent concept of the place their “drawback areas” are—and the place to make adjustments.
Nonetheless, it is also price noting that discovering a vitamin app that precisely reviews energy is an arduous job. A 2019 research, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) didn’t characterize varied dietary data precisely.
Actually, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As a substitute of viewing vitamin logging as a software to trace absolutely the values of energy, you possibly can—as an alternative—assist your consumer see it as a software to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for individuals who’re not seeking to shed weight).
Take this 2013 research printed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Diet and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that individuals who tracked their eating regimen for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did initially of the research.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past information accuracy points, although, one of the crucial vital 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 grow to be a breeding floor for orthorexia.
A number of research 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 problems.
Additionally, make sure to look out for unhealthy behaviors in purchasers 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 every week) to extend their calorie burn?
If that’s the case, you may need 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, typically, 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 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 software to assist your consumer find out about their every day exercise ranges, vitamin standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to achieve “absolute management” over varied points of their every day life, it might 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 in your purchasers. That approach, they will make an knowledgeable choice for themselves.