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From the Health Coach: Gizmos and Gadgets

  • Category: Wellness
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Rachel Wilde, PBT, CPT, MA
From the Health Coach: Gizmos and Gadgets

One of the biggest trends in the fitness industry these days is high tech gadgets that can help you to improve your health, fitness and performance through tracking activity, nutrition and more. In addition to tools like fitness watches, you can purchase smart shirts and bands that monitor muscle activity, velocity, force and even GPS pieces that tell you how hard, far and fast you are working.

The value of these gadgets is sometimes called into scrutiny as there are often questions about their accuracy. That said, there is an article circulating on Fox News Health right now about a 73-year-old woman who says her Fitbit saved her life by monitoring her respiratory and heart activity. I recently also read an article also on Fox News Health that mentioned the possibility of a high tech gum that could someday soon help detect cancer. The advances of these gizmos makes a person wonder if they should have one, too!

Although I’m not sure that a Fitbit will save your life, useful information can be gathered by monitoring and tracking your day to day activities and better managing any health conditions you have. You may find these tools can help with accountability and your performance, and you can even save money using apps or devices instead of hiring a personal trainer, dietician or paying a gym membership fee.

If you are considering purchasing a gadget or gizmo, you may want to first look at some of the free options you might already have, since apps and tools are often built into our phones and mp3 players.

If you have a Samsung product, you might try S-Health. Samsung’s health app is pre-installed on their phones and advertises that it “provides core features to keep up your body fit and healthy. It will record and analyze your daily activities and habits to help maintain successful diet and lead healthy lifestyle”. In addition, “Samsung Health helps to create a balanced lifestyle pattern by recording a variety of information like your food, caffeine and water intake details.” Their app can be used as a stand-alone tool, or with external devices such as Samsung Gear to monitor steps and activity, heart rate, blood glucose, weight, SpO2, sleep, stress and more. The S-Health app will also interact with other apps as well.

Apple offers their Health App on their ios devices, and boasts: “The all-new Health app has been redesigned to make it easier to learn about your health and start reaching your goals. It consolidates health data from iPhone, Apple Watch, and third-party apps you already use, so you can view all your progress in one convenient place. And it recommends other helpful apps to round out your collection — making it simpler than ever to move your health forward.” Apples Health app tracks four categories of your health, activity, sleep, mindfulness and Nutrition.

In addition to pre-installed apps, there are a myriad of apps to use that are free or can be purchased at a low cost that can also help with tracking or planning improved heath. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular health apps available.

My Fitness Pal helps to log and track nutrition through journaling consumed foods. Fooducate is an app that can help with grocery shopping- with a quick scan of a barcode, you can evaluate how healthy a purchase you are making.

For activity, Couch to 5K has been a gold standard to use if you want to take up jogging and can help you successfully complete a 5K course, just by following their run/walk plan. There are also apps like Nike+ Training that comes with customizable training plans from professional trainers and athletes.

In addition to fitness and nutrition apps, you can find a variety of apps to improve stress, sleep, perform first aid and more! Check out this article from Greatist that lists their 39 best health and fitness apps.

Fitness bands like the Fitbit have gained in popularity over the past several years. Many of these bands interact with apps like My Fitness Pal and do a great job reminding us to get up and move, drink more water and monitoring exercise intensity. If the freebie apps aren’t enough for you and you are ready to upgrade to a specific piece of equipment like a fitness watch, cnet rates the top wearable fitness trackers of 2017. Their top list includes:

  • Fitbit Alta HR
  • Fitbit Charge 2
  • Garmin Forerunner 235
  • Fitbit Flex 2
  • Garmin Vivomove
  • Garmin Vivoactive HR
  • Fitbit Zip
  • Fitbit Blaze

Check this cnet article out to read more about how they are rated for performance, design, battery use and software.

Apps and wearables (on our wrists) are really just the beginning for health tracking. There are already smart shirts and sleeves that can be purchased to monitor muscle force and velocity (the MLB and NFL recently approved the use of two wearables to monitor a pitchers workload/heart rate and a tracking system for football players as well) and companies like Under Armour are starting to offer trackers built into our shoes, according to this article from Sports Illustrated.

It will be exciting to see the advances of technology as the devices and tools we already have evolve into bigger pieces of our health care. For the time being, we always have built in tools of our own to use.

If you would like to learn more about monitoring your heart rate on your own, your blood pressure or your rate of perceived exertion, see your CCH health coach!

Have Questions?

Campbell County Health Wellness works to reduce health risks and promote overall wellness among employee groups and individuals across the northeastern Wyoming region. To learn more about Wellness, please visit www.cchwyo.org/Wellness or call 307.688.8051.

This blog was written by Rachel Wilde, CPT, MA, CCH Wellness Services Technician and Phlebotomist