Professional athletes have long relied on technology and data analysis to reach peak performance. Think of the Olympic swimmer using motion tracking systems and underwater cameras to maximize his kick movement.
You might not be training for gold, but today’s technology can have a positive health impact by making you aware of what’s happening inside your body.
“It’s all about the quantified self,” says John Peters, senior director of sales and membership services at the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. “Whether it’s steps in a day or total physical activity, the technology is motivating people to get off the couch and get active.”
The data analysis is now moving beyond fitness trackers to holistic health monitoring, everything from sleep to hydration, as well as personalized advice on improving personal health. Here are three ways to make the most of the technology.
1. Smarten up your scales
Remember when the only thing bathroom scales told you was your weight? The latest smart scales also measure things like body mass index (BMI), which calculates your weight relative to your height, bone mass, and hydration.
Dr. John A. Osborne, a cardiologist at the Dallas Medical Center and volunteer with the American Heart Association, is now recommending digital scaled to patients just about every day. “I love the immediacy of the feedback,” he says. “You get granular information in real time, rather than fifty pounds down the road.”
The $150 Qardio Base, shown in the video, is among the smart scales that can send data to your smart phone so that you can easily set targets and track your progress. It also includes a dedicated pregnancy mode, so moms-to-be can track their weekly progress and even upload pictures.
2. Improve your sleep
Insufficient sleep is the new smoking—a typically preventable condition that causes a range of health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s no wonder the sleep aid market grew to a $50 billion industry in 2016, aimed at helping adults get the recommended 7 to 8 hours of deep, restorative sleep.
Fitness trackers from brands like Fitbit, Garmin, and TomTom typically track the quality and duration of your sleep as well. They’re a good option if you also plan to use the activity and heart rate monitors. But the sleep data can be a little inaccurate.
Stand-alone sleep trackers tend to deliver more precise data. The $150 Beddit 3 Sleep Monitor, for example, is a thin, flat sleep sensor that slips under your sheet, where it gives you an accurate total sleep score based on such metrics as time-to-fall-asleep, sleep cycles, and light/deep sleep. It also measures temperature and humidity to help you create the ideal sleep environment.
Even though sleep trackers aren’t officially considered medical devices, they can do a lot of to improve your health, not to mention your mood and productivity levels when you wake up fully refreshed from an excellent night’s sleep.
3. Watch what you eat
Weight control is all about exercise, a balanced diet, and portion control. Unless you have a personal trainer and private chef, that can be a tough balancing act. Technology is making it a lot easier.
Our video features the SmartPlate TopView, a $79 device that uses advanced photo recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to analyze and track everything you eat. Simply snap a picture of your meal with your smart phone and the app will provide complete nutritional data, including calories, fat, and protein. It will also deliver customized recommendations based on your personal health profile.
The HAPIfork is another handy, healthful gadget. It measures how long it takes to east a meal as well as the time between bites, since eating too quickly can lead to weight gain as well as gastric reflux and other digestive problems.