Wearable tech—from Fitbits to the Apple Watch—is all the rage these days. One in ten Americans reported owning one in 2014, and there’s expected to be 170 million devices owned by 2017.
These devices can help you monitor your daily “steps,” track your heart rate, and even tell you how much sleep you’re getting. They’re great motivation, encouraging you to reach certain health and exercise milestones, and they usually correspond to smartphone apps that help you track your progress towards goals and recognize bad habits or potential areas of improvement.
The Key to Better Health
Health improvements, whether you aim to get more exercise or better sleep, can be difficult to accomplish without some sort of tracking mechanism. Wearable tech attaches directly to the body using clips or straps and records and analyzes your daily activity almost without you realizing it. These devices, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated, can track your sleep patterns, fitness levels, daily calories, and more.
The advent of wearable tech helps people take a more active role in monitoring and improving their health. Rather than relying on a doctor or nutritionist or other health professional as the intermediary, wearable tech delivers hard data in real time. You’ll find you’re more informed—and motivated.
Recommended Wearable Tech Devices
It’s a crowded market for wearable health technology. There’s something for everyone, depending on how high-tech you want to get and what outcomes you want to monitor. Among the best brands to seek out include Fitbit, Garmin, Misfit, and Jawbone, all of which make fitness-tracking wrist bands and watches. Each specializes in slightly different areas: Fitbit works well for heart-rate monitoring and counting steps; Jawbone is great for tracking your sleep patterns; Garmin uses its outstanding GPS technology to record distances and pace; and Misfit works well for those on a budget.
Breaking Down the Numbers
There’s a lot of talk about “steps” these days, and it’s something most wearable tech measures. But what does that unit really mean?
Your wearable tech likely sets a goal of achieving 10,000 steps, or about five miles, in a day. Your steps are recorded when you exercise or simply go about your daily chores. The figure has been adopted by the prominent nonprofit Shape Up America, and while there’s still some scientific debate about whether this is a good measure of how healthy we are—or if we need to be hitting more than 10,000 steps a day—it’s a useful rule of thumb in your attempt to be more active. If you’re trying to lose weight or get in shape for a marathon, for example, you’ll want to increase that number to help you hit other fitness goals.