Northside Hospital - Are wearable gadgets getting you off the couch?

Are wearable gadgets getting you off the couch?

From tech-infused glasses that tell you the weather to smart watches that are way better than dumb old watches, there’s a wearable gadget wave that many people are riding. But is all this data a good idea?

The more people know and the more they are aware of their bodies, the more motivated and competitive they become. Most people need to be pushed by competition to improve their fitness levels. So the biggest advantage to all the new wearable technology is that as a consumer, your physical fitness awareness and health goals can increase. But the caution in all this is the information may not always be exact.

Once you have a wearable device, it's easier to set goals and measure where you are. The people who have them tend to be motivated to get healthy and are invested in living a healthy lifestyle. Just like anything else, there’s a return on the investment. The more you invest in your health, the greater your health is going to be.

Do wearable technologies make you healthier because they are a great motivator, or the fact the person who invests in one of these devices is the type of person who's already investing in their health and is going to get off the couch?

There is no way to know that for sure, but it’s clear that once you make the investment, it is a positive feedback loop. A person who wears the smart wristwatch, for example, or has synched their every movement with their smartphone generally become more active because they follow their activity levels better.

Are you getting too much information?

The disadvantage of wearable technology is they do end up giving you information overload. If they are just measuring your activity log, then that’s great, there is no problem with that whatsoever. But it’s more than that. People measure their blood pressure, sleep patterns, their heart rate, and calories.

We typically don’t sit around and check our blood pressure and heart rate 20 times a day in a normal setting. We also should not substitute expert medical advice with these self-diagnosing tools, instead look at wearable technology as a great health motivator.

So for example, as a consumer, you can see your heart rate drop to 30 beats per minute when you sleep. Then they ask their cardiologists or sleep specialist what’s wrong with them.

For some people, that’s considered “normal.” What we don’t want to do, is go to the other extreme, where we are taking medicine or put a pacemaker in someone, let’s just say, for something that’s a normal thing.

Now, instead of improving their health, we’ve made it worse. We’ve done an invasive procedure they didn’t need.
We need to interpret the information that we’re getting in the context of each person.

The best way to tackle these problems is to have a good relationship with your physician. Before embarking on checking your blood pressure 500 times a day, make sure that you trust your physician more than you trust the gadget.

Read more about Northside's Heart & Vascular Institute. 

Read more about Northside Hospital Sleep Disorders Centers.


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