Technology to Develop a Healthier Lifestyle

Most people know what they could improve upon to live a healthier life, but the problem is more often in the follow-through.  Thankfully for everyone, technology is making this accountability easier to monitor and is forcing people to confront their unhealthy habits head-on.  Uniting the technological and personal health worlds in a manner that will promote positive change is no easy feat, but these four products have spurred innovation and help users develop healthier lifestyles.

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  1. FitBit

FitBit is the most prominent activity tracker on the market and allows for users to gain access to a whole suite of health functionality and benefits.  The core product for FitBit is a wearable wristband that tracks heart rate, sleep patterns, steps, GPS movement, everyday activity, sport activity, cardio level, and breathing.  Users can see their daily step counts and measure their body’s performance during athletic activities.

Recently, FitBit has worked hard to push their products beyond simply an activity tracking wristband and rolled out a smart watch as well.  This offers all of the core functionality of the FitBit plus calling, texting, and music so consumers are more likely to always wear the product and have a more enjoyable experience while exercising.

Additionally, FitBit launched a smart scale, which pairs with any of their activity trackers and allows even better data analysis on personal health.  Users can combine step counts with weights and heart rates to get Body Mass Indexes and continually track these numbers so they have a much greater awareness of their health conditions.  Also, the data tracker can help give realistic goals so users know exactly what they should be achieving daily and what their weekly improvement should look like.

Finally, as FitBit offers one of the best outlets of personal health and activity data, they have begun partnering with insurance companies to better inform companies on the health conditions of clients.  While this may sound dystopian, users benefit since more precise information means less risk for insurance companies and lower premiums for the customer.  FitBit has created one of the best suites of personal health technology to allow users to clearly see their health conditions, generate milestones to work towards, and receive monetary benefits for improving their health.

  1. ActiveLink

Similar to FitBit in terms of tracking activity and promoting goals for improvement, ActiveLink is a wearable that measures daily activity and has slightly less functionality as FitBit.  This is made up for by a motivation-centric user experience which hones in on 12-week challenges and daily and weekly performance.

Stemming from a collaboration between Philips and WeightWatchers, the ActiveLink program aims to prevent fatalities from non-communicable diseases (i.e. heart disease and cancer).  As the World Health Organization has identified, more intelligent health systems to track calorie input, regulate diet, and monitor physical activity can aid in preventing non-communicable diseases.

As the Executive Vice President of Philips put it, “People know what’s good for them, but find it difficult to change their daily lives.”  ActiveLink’s ambition is to confront people with the realities of their routines and continually empower them to make a positive change.  Just as WeightWatchers aims to empower people to track their calories and lose weight, Active Link wants to take this level of empowerment even further by coupling more specific calorie information with daily activity data.

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  1. Strava

Strava takes a fresh tweak on the run-tracking phone app, as it is also a social media platform.  Simply carrying your phone with you on your runs will allow the Strava app to record your time, total pace, pace per distance, altitude climbed, route, and other data.  Once you complete your run or bike ride this data is shared on your profile and anyone who follows you can follow along with your progress.

Adding this social awareness and competition between friends increases accountability and drive to push yourself to be more active.  Also, coupling global competitions to run a certain distance in an extended time period, run a certain speed for a distance, and more, all for awards and prizes, adds another level of gamification to the exercise experience.

During 2015 alone, over 115 million runs/rides were clocked in on Strava totaling over 4.1 billion kilometers of exercise.  Creating a global community for exercising can eliminate much of the solidarity that makes giving up easy and takes the fun out of working out.

  1. LumoBack

LumoBack is a device you wear around your lower back that tracks your posture throughout the day.  Poor posture leads to back pain, neck pain, headaches, increased depression and stress, and digestive problems.  Slouching causes your body to compress and constrict, which is what causes the body pain.  The compression also slows down your internal processes leading to less energy available during the day.  Less energy results in the increased depression, worse ability to process stress, and headaches.  Posture is also responsible for the position of our internal organs, and so poor posture can disrupt digestive tracks.

LumoBack detects the angle of your lower back and can tell if you slouch or are sitting in an improper position.  When LumoBack detects bad posture, it vibrates to let you know you need to sit up.  Additionally, then is an accompanying app that reports a history of your posture statistics and gives your posture a score on a scale of 0-100.  As an implicit habit that is hard to notice without a mirror, posture is hard to personally evaluate, but still crucial for a healthy lifestyle.  LumoBack makes this facet of health easy to monitor and forces you to break the bad habit.

There are many components of a healthy lifestyle ranging from exercise to diet to posture.  Now a variety of technological solutions help us keep an eye on all of these activities that are hard to maintain, but crucial for personal wellness.

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