9 health benefits of smart watches and fitness trackers


9 health benefits of smart watches and fitness trackers

Fitness trackers and smart watches have evolved from the days of clip-on pedometers. Now, they’re much closer to computers that you wear on your wrist — which means the potential for incorporating them into your health and fitness routine is nearly limitless.
“It’s not all about tracking your steps,” says Tricia Harrison, the health and wellness director at Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA in Myrtle Beach. “It can help hold you accountable. It can give you motivation. It can help you set goals.”

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Tidelands Health is the exclusive health system partner of the YMCA of Coastal Carolina, including Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA in Myrtle Beach, Tidelands Health Pawleys Family YMCA and Tidelands Health Georgetown Family YMCA. Together, the two organizations are providing the community with access to a broad variety of services and programs to improve health and wellness.
About 70 percent of Harrison’s clients at the YMCA use smartwatches or fitness trackers to help them, she says.

Ideas you can use

Here are some ways to integrate the technology into your routine to help you achieve your health and wellness goals:

1. Track sleep

Many smart watches and fitness trackers can collect data about when you sleep and the quality of your sleep, often based on movement. You can use that information to make informed choices about how to get better sleep, which can benefit your overall health.

2. Monitor heart rate

Without a smartwatch or fitness tracker, you’re unlikely to have access to regular heart rate information. But that information can tell you a lot — like whether you’re pushing yourself too hard – or not hard enough – and need to adjust your activity level. Some newer watches can even detect irregular heartbeats, which can help you identify conditions such as atrial fibrillation, which can have serious health consequences if left untreated.

3. Eat healthier

Wearable tech can be an easy way to log meals throughout the day to make sure you’re making healthy choices. The goal is to get a better a sense of what types of food you need more or less of each day — not about meticulously counting calories.

4. Stay hydrated

If you find yourself forgetting to sip water during the day, here’s a high-tech solution: Your smartwatch can send you a reminder to hydrate at regular intervals.

5. Call emergency services

Some devices let you make emergency calls from your wrist. Some even have fall detection and can contact 911 and your emergency contacts if it detects that you’ve fallen and have been immobile for a certain amount of time. This can be a great option for seniors and others at greater risk for falling, as well as hikers, skiers and others.

6. Manage diabetes

For people with diabetes who need to regularly check their blood glucose levels, some new medical devices communicate with apps on your phone or your smart watch — making monitoring your levels even more seamless.

7. Measure your temperature

Some fitness trackers track your body temperature, which can let you know when you may be getting overheated or if you might be running a fever. The temperature reader in some watches can also help users track fertility.

8. Connect with others

If you’re someone who benefits from accountability, you might find a smartwatch that shares your activity levels with friends or family to be a good motivator. If none of your friends are into wearable tech, some apps and devices set daily or weekly challenges for you to meet.

9. Set realistic goals

Once you get a sense of how many steps you take a day, how long you sleep and when your heart rate is highest, it’s much easier to set goals that feel attainable. Hitting 10,000 steps a day may feel impossible if you’re currently only getting about 4,000. But getting 6,000 steps in might feel more doable. By setting incrementally higher fitness goals, you can increase your overall activity consistently to improve your health.

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