It wasn’t all that way back when all “wearable health know-how” meant was a easy pedometer—succesful solely of measuring a person’s step depend. 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 respiratory.
- 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 truthfully 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 objectives?
Properly … you would possibly wish 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 know-how—structured round their options—that’ll allow you to determine if it’s appropriate to your consumer.
Day by day Step Rely
You are possible no stranger to the well being advantages sustaining a excessive degree of non-exercise exercise thermogenesis (NEAT) can carry to your consumer: much less threat of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular occasions, and dying from all causes are only a few examples.
The one downside? With “work-from-home” nonetheless the default association, your consumer will possible spend the larger a part of their days inactive.
That’s the place wearable health know-how is available in.
Whereas your consumer might 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 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 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.
Sadly, that additionally signifies that they’re vulnerable to registering steps in error from refined actions (e.g., washing arms, 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 energetic (e.g., stirring a pot or working equipment), so there shall 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 prone to get false step counts.
- Log non-active occasions: 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 will then deduct the “false steps” from their day’s complete depend.
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 drop a few pounds.
A disclaimer, although: Exercise trackers and smartwatches are notoriously inaccurate at counting energy burned throughout train and all through the day.
In accordance with a sequence of research from 2017, practically 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 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 administration specialist, let’s say you’ve decided that your consumer would do finest by consuming 300 energy fewer than their complete 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 reveals that folks are likely to reward themselves with decadent meals and huge parts after exercising (notably cardio)—and that they typically eat again all of (if no more than) the energy they burned through the session.
In fact, 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 probability of them over-compensating for his or her bodily exercise. And talking of which …
Because of app integrations, many smartwatches may 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 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 “downside areas” are—and the place to make modifications.
Nevertheless, it is also value noting that discovering a diet app that precisely stories energy is an arduous activity. A 2019 examine, discovered that each one 5 evaluated apps (together with MyFitnessPal, Noom Coach, and Lose It!) didn’t signify varied dietary data precisely.
Truthfully, although, this isn’t a dealbreaker.
As an alternative of viewing diet logging as a instrument to trace absolutely the values of energy, you would—as an alternative—assist your consumer see it as a instrument to develop wholesome consuming habits (particularly for many who’re not seeking to drop a few pounds).
Take this 2013 examine printed within the Worldwide Journal of Behavioral Vitamin and Bodily Exercise, for instance.
Researchers discovered that members who tracked their weight-reduction plan for eight weeks ate two extra servings of greens a day than they did at the start of the examine.
Look Out for Indicators of Obsession
Past information accuracy points, although, some of the 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 constructive affect on well being can turn out 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 it is best to keep away from recommending health wearables for any consumer who has a historical past of consuming issues.
Additionally, make sure you 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 modifications to their train routine (e.g., 5 cardio classes in every week) to extend their calorie burn?
In that case, you would possibly wish to get them to take off their health wearables.
And, in fact, a a lot better possibility 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 is usually a useful instrument to assist your consumer find out about their every day exercise ranges, diet standing, and extra.
But when utilized in an obsessive method to realize “absolute management” over varied features of their every day life, it might 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 approach, they’ll make an knowledgeable choice for themselves.