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 depend. But now? Technology has superior so considerably that there are two separate classes of wearables:
- “Traditional” health trackers: Capable of monitoring exercise, steps, velocity, sleep, coronary heart fee, blood strain, and respiratory.
- 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 actually a problem. Now, did that get you all excited concerning the prospect of getting your consumer to purchase one in order that they’d keep motivated and on monitor to succeed in their health objectives?
Well … you would possibly wish to maintain off that thought for a short while.
Yes, health wearables can present priceless 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 know-how—structured round their options—that’ll make it easier to resolve if it’s appropriate to your consumer.
Daily Step Count
You’re seemingly no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive degree of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can convey to your consumer: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are only a few examples.
The solely downside? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your consumer will seemingly spend the better a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health know-how is available in.
While your consumer could suspect that they’re usually 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 really useful 10,000 to 12,000 steps a day.
However, this additionally brings up a con of utilizing health wearables: They’re recognized 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 depend.
Unfortunately, that additionally signifies that they’re susceptible to registering steps in error from refined actions (e.g., washing palms, making ready meals, or utilizing the pc mouse) and even vibrations that have an effect on the physique (e.g., from driving in a automotive).
Here are a couple of ideas that’ll assist your consumer maximize the accuracy of their every day step counts:
- Wear on the nondominant hand: Your consumer’s dominant hand will seemingly be extra lively (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there can be extra alternatives for errors.
- Ensure a decent 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 instances: If attainable, have your consumer log their earlier than and after step counts after they spend an prolonged interval being inactive (e.g., working). They can then deduct the “false steps” from their day’s complete depend.
Many health trackers may also assist your consumer calculate the variety of energy they’ve burned in a day. Imaginably, this may also help them get a greater sense of their calorie stability—which is especially necessary for purchasers seeking to shed some pounds.
A disclaimer, although: Activity trackers and smartwatches are notoriously inaccurate at counting energy burned throughout train and all through the day.
According to a collection of research from 2017, almost all health wearable gadgets 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 consumer 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 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, analysis additionally exhibits that folks 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 through the session.
Of course, the accuracy of your consumer’s health wearable at estimating power expenditure is just about past your management. But what you are able to do, as an alternative, is to have your consumer monitor their meals consumption. This decreases the probability of them over-compensating for his or her bodily exercise. And talking of which …
Thanks to app integrations, many smartwatches may also help make nutrition-tracking so simple as tapping a couple of buttons.
An apparent upside related to that is it empowers your consumer with the data 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 supplies your consumer with a transparent concept of the place their “problem areas” are—and the place to make adjustments.
However, it is also value noting that discovering a vitamin app that precisely studies energy is an arduous process. A 2019 research, discovered that every one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) didn’t symbolize numerous dietary data precisely.
Honestly, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
Instead of viewing vitamin logging as a device to trace absolutely the values of energy, you could possibly—as an alternative—assist your consumer see it as a device to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for many who’re not seeking to shed some pounds).
Take this 2013 research revealed within the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, for instance.
Researchers discovered that contributors who tracked their food plan for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did at the start of the research.
Look Out for Signs of Obsession
Beyond knowledge accuracy points, although, one of the crucial essential 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 turn out to be a breeding floor for orthorexia.
Several research have now discovered that the usage of tracker apps (e.g., calorie-counter apps) could possibly be linked to disordered consuming. That’s why it is best to keep away from recommending health wearables for any consumer who has a historical past of consuming problems.
Also, you’ll want 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?
If so, you would possibly wish to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, in fact, a a lot better choice can be to encourage them to search skilled assist—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).
Before getting your purchasers to hop on the health wearables development, it’s important to ask, “why do they need one?” and “how are they using it?” An exercise tracker or smartwatch is usually a useful device to assist your consumer find out about their every day exercise ranges, vitamin standing, and extra.
But if utilized in an obsessive method to realize “absolute control” over numerous features of their every day life, it may find yourself doing extra hurt than good.
That’s why it is best to at all times undergo the method of weighing the professionals and cons to your purchasers. That method, they’ll make an knowledgeable choice for themselves.