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 strain, and respiratory.
- Smartwatches: Past monitoring well being and health information, smartwatches additionally supply smartphone options, like texting, calling, and different app integrations.
As such, considering 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 in order that they’d stay motivated and on track to reach their fitness goals?
Effectively … you would possibly need to maintain off that thought for a short time.
Sure, health wearables can present useful 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 make it easier to resolve if it’s appropriate in your consumer.
Every day Step Rely
You are possible no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive stage of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry in your consumer: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and loss of life from all causes are just a few examples.
The one drawback? 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 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 actually inspire them into getting off their sofa and hitting the really helpful 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 number of steps a consumer takes in a day.
Smartwatches and exercise trackers use movement sensors to find out step rely.
Sadly, that additionally signifies that they’re liable to registering steps in error from delicate actions (e.g., washing fingers, 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 couple 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 possible be extra lively (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there can be extra alternatives for errors.
- Guarantee a good 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 doable, 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 also assist your consumer calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this can assist them get a greater sense of their calorie steadiness—which is especially essential for purchasers trying to drop 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 series of studies from 2017, practically 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 signifies that your consumer 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 management specialist, let’s say you’ve decided that your consumer would do finest by consuming 300 energy fewer than their complete every 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, research additionally exhibits that individuals are likely to reward themselves with decadent meals and enormous parts after exercising (significantly cardio)—and that they typically 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 power 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 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 a couple 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 affects them.
In flip, this gives your consumer with a transparent thought of the place their “drawback areas” are—and the place to make adjustments.
Nevertheless, it is also price noting that discovering a vitamin app that precisely reviews energy is an arduous process. A 2019 study, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) didn’t characterize varied dietary info precisely.
Actually, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As a substitute of viewing vitamin logging as a device to trace absolutely the values of energy, you can—as an alternative—assist your consumer see it as a device to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for individuals who’re not trying to drop pounds).
Take this 2013 study printed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Vitamin and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that contributors who tracked their food regimen for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did initially of the examine.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past information accuracy points, although, probably the most essential 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 optimistic affect on well being can grow to be a breeding floor for orthorexia.
Several studies have now discovered that using tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) could possibly be linked to disordered consuming. That is why you must keep away from recommending health wearables for any consumer who has a historical past of consuming issues.
Additionally, remember 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 adjustments to their train routine (e.g., 5 cardio periods in every week) to extend their calorie burn?
In that case, you would possibly need to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, in fact, a a lot better choice can be to encourage them to seek professional help—as a result of, typically, 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 development, 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 study 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 must at all times undergo the method of weighing the professionals and cons in your purchasers. That means, they will make an knowledgeable resolution for themselves.