What is a Wearable?

Wearables are portable human activity trackers that measure vital statistics about your heart rate, activity, calories burned and even sleep quality.  The most common wearables on the market include Garmin, FitBit and Apple Watch.  The power and appeal of wearables lies in the real time data they provide about a persons current health status.  Simply knowing how many steps you've taken today or how many calories you've burned can help you make healthier choices tomorrow. 

Why Wearables?

Many employers have capitalized on the psychology of wearables to encourage employees to achieve their health and wellness goals by incorporating wearables in wellness programs and offering incentives for meeting activity goals.  In fact, a number of employers are offering wearables for free because of their potential to help employees make healthier lifestyle choices.   

Wearable devices have certainly come a long way over the past years since FitBit launched their first activity tracker in 2009.  From basic steps trackers to Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) capabilities that allow for non-invasive glucose readings, the amount and quality of clinical data that can be captured through a wearable is poised to continue to grow in the years to come.  It's true that wearables are important tools that can help consumers move more, eat better, sleep better and learn to listen to their bodies.  Kaiser Permanente recently published an article on wearables that has some great insights.  Here's the truth about wearables and some important considerations that will help you make the most of wearable technology.

1.  Build Health Awareness 

Knowledge is power.  Wearables can help you set activity or step goals, daily or weekly, track your heart rate, measure your sleep quality and more.  You can also get regular reminders to make sure you are staying on track with your health and wellness goals and easily see your progress over time with very minimal effort.  This increased awareness can be a great motivator for change and help people take those extra steps, or go to sleep a little earlier.  

2.  Managing Chronic Conditions

Treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease recommend close monitoring of how much movement you're getting each day and calories burned.  Wearables help these patients continue to monitor their progress and activity in an easy and convenient way.  Continuous glucose monitoring is now available through wearables without the need for invasive blood testing through out the day.  The convenience, and ease this offers patients managing diabetes can positively impact quality of life and treatment outcomes. 

3. Important Considerations

While wearables offer a lot of value to consumers because of the data they provide, it's up to consumers to take action and make changes bassed on the data they are receiving.  Also, the clinical data received from a wearable device should never take the place of regular wellness visits with your physician and primary lab data from your providers.  Lastly, it's important to listen to your body first and pay attention to the numbers second.  Pushing yourself to overexertion to meet a numeric goal on your wearable defeats the purpose and mission of these devices to help you be in tune with your body.  

To read the full article from Kaiser Permanente on wearables, visit: https://thrive.kaiserpermanente.org/thrive-together/live-well/powerful-but-not-perfect-overview-health-wearables?wt.tsrc=email_pih&cat=l36&elqcst=272&elqcsid=6636