How can I use wearable technology to improve my health?
with advice from Activbody, AED Superstore and Polar
For better or worse, technology has become a part of our daily lives. We can receive calls and messages anywhere, at any time. We can count our steps and track our runs. We can even do guided meditation and receive daily affirmations. And now, “wearable tech” can monitor our health moment by moment.
Wearable tech is made up of devices designed to be worn on the body to help you to achieve fitness and wellness goals and track your health. Examples include fitness trackers, smartwatches and even virtual reality headsets. While smartphones have been able to collect data about our health for a while, it wasn’t always very consistent. AED Superstore, a preferred vendor for PTPN (Physiquality’s parent company), points out that wearable tech like Fitbits and Apple watches are an improvement over smartphones because they are in constant contact with our skin, the body’s largest organ.
Activbody, another PTPN preferred vendor, adds that these wearables can use infrared light to measure heart rate and an accelerometer to measure calories burned. These capabilities mean that the wearables are tracking lots of data that can be used to improve our health, if we pay attention. But how?
Even if you haven’t been exercising on a regular basis, that smartwatch or fitness tracker gives you a baseline to measure by — how many steps do you take per day, on average, for example? This allows you to set goals to move beyond what you were doing previously. Activbody points to a American Journal of Preventive Medicine study that shows how people that set goals and measured their progress with wearable technology were able to increase their physical activity. And when you’re more active, you’re reducing your risk for a variety of issues and diseases.
If you’re trying to improve your endurance or lose weight, you can also set goals for your heart rate while exercising. The experts at Polar, a Physiquality partner, explain that the first step is knowing your resting heart rate. For the best result, measure your resting heart rate in the morning, right after you wake up. For an accurate and easy measurement, consider using a heart rate monitor. Polar recommends doing the measurement more than once, on consecutive mornings, to establish a good baseline.
According to the American Heart Association, a healthy resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. If it’s lower, you’re most likely an elite athlete and in excellent health. But if it’s higher than that, you need to talk to your physician about why your heart rate is so high, and then discuss ways to bring it down and improve your health.
Once you know that your resting heart rate is in a healthy range, you can set goals for your target heart rate during exercise. The AHA has posted target heart rate ranges for exercise, as well as maximum heart rates; keep in mind that these are averages and haven’t been calculated specifically knowing a person’s level of fitness or previous health conditions.
Polar emphasizes the importance of finding balance in your heart rate goals — the “sweet spot” between not intense enough and too intense. You can overdo any form of exercise, and put yourself at a high risk of injury, pain or burnout. For most regular exercisers, Polar says, two or three times of high intensity training a week is enough. Your physical therapist is an excellent resource to help you find this balance.
Also, don’t forget that if your heart rate suddenly spikes or if you feel tightness in your chest, stop exercising and seek medical attention.
Some devices and apps work together to collect even more data. For example, Activbody’s Activ5 uses a small, portable device to measure your strength during a variety of exercises. The app shows you how well you performed during each workout, and it measures your progress over time.
Regardless of how you’re monitoring your body and measuring its response to activity, be sure to speak to a healthcare provider about your exercise regimen. Don’t forget that your physical therapist is an excellent resource for musculoskeletal health. Use our therapist finder to locate the professional nearest you.
Activbody, a Preferred Vendor for PTPN (Physiquality’s parent company) aspires to keep the world active through fitness and health technologies designed to aid in rehabilitation, make exercise fun and convenient, and help with overall health and well-being. To learn more, visit www.activ5.com.
AED Superstore, another Preferred Vendor for PTPN, is the world’s largest distributor of automated external defibrillators and related accessories.. The company also offers AED, CPR and first aid training courses through its network of American Heart Association‐accredited instructors. To learn more, visit www.aedsuperstore.com.
Polar, a Physiquality vendor partner, has been leading the way in technological innovations and heart rate monitors since 1977. Polar offers a comprehensive product range, along with essential support and advice on everything from improving an athlete’s sports performance to helping people enjoy a healthier lifestyle, and aiding rehabilitation and weight management. Learn more at www.polar.com.
For further reading, look through our selection of articles on health and wellness, in addition to the below links:
Alger, Kieran. The best Apple Watch running apps tested. Wareable.com, December 31, 2018.
Cadmus-Bertram, Lisa; Marcus, Bess H.; Patterson, Ruth E.; Parker, Barbara A; and Morey, Brittany L. Randomized trial of a Fitbit-based physical activity intervention for women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, September 2015.
Know your target heart rate for exercise, losing weight and health. American Heart Association, January 4, 2015.