Health Tracking – The #1 Way to Promote Proactive Healthcare
Health tracking is the most motivating, effective form of health support. I am devastated when I see articles knocking them down, even if unintentionally. Not all forms of health tracking are equal in terms of data or capabilities. However, fitness trackers are powerful, and even if certain trackers may slack in certain areas – an all or none approach in anything, loses many people.
In my many years of medical fitness, corporate health….I have worked with thousands of people who feel helpless or just too busy and stressed to think about their health. I have also seen the power of fitness trackers, healthy competition -both with themselves and others.
Our wearable devices have come a very long way from the plastic pedometers in the Special K box of cereal. The variation between devices is immense. My goal here is to help sort through using the trackers effectively for adherence and sustainability, and choosing the right tracker for you or your employees.
Just an fyi…..I have looked over many of the lists comparing available health trackers……very few of these lists present all the trackers available….I don’t know…..Maybe they don’t want to compare their favoured tracker to possible competition – beware. The truth is – when choosing a tracker – know the truth – know what is important to you. What biometrics and activity would you like to track? What do you find the most motivating? What is within your budget? Some of the more celebrated devices do NOT supply the most thorough data, and are very expensive. Make your choice based on science and fact, not marketing budgets.
February 2017 study: HERO ( Health Enhancement Research Organization) Wearables in Wellness Case Study Report:
- BP started incorporating wearables in 2013. More than 75% of eligible participants enrol in the company’s annual “Million Step Challenge,” and 79% reach their goal.
- HERO report makes clear, wearables are most effective when employers understand their role in a larger wellness initiative………….“We see a lot of promise in the use of wearables as a component of a comprehensive workplace wellness program,” says Jessica Grossmeier, vice president of research for HERO. “Early research supports that a device, on its own, will not change health behaviors over the long term.”
- Incorporate wearables into a broader program that goes beyond a single challenge focused on physical activity. Leverage interest in wearables to engage individuals in other health and well-being programs.
- Provide ongoing enhancements to program design and engagement strategies, never allowing the program to feel stale.
- Keep programs relevant and fresh by responding to program evaluation data and employee feedback to continuously improve your approach.
- Develop goals and objectives for your program and leverage available wearables data to evaluate achievement of those goals.
Its unfortunate but the calorie somehow stole the spotlight with health and fitness. Yes, we must watch our calorie intake, and try to make sure the calories we consume feed us the nutrition we need. However, lets take a look at the painfully oversimplified equation:
Calories IN − Calories Burned ➾ we lose weight or gain weight
If only life were so simple….the truth is knowing these variables accurately……NO
It became very popular for many years for cardio respiratory equipment – treadmills,
ellipticals, stair climbers, bikes…..to provide “calories burned”. This number is calculated based on the weight entered at the start of the workout, age, sometimes heart rate, duration of workout, effort…..et voila – we are told the calories we burned. Again – this is calculated based on some generalized superficial data, not on the individual and their metabolic rate and other unique data such as lean muscle mass or our basal metabolic rate.
Perhaps, in our wellness programs we should focus on optimizing our metabolism by fine tuning the many factors that sabotage our best efforts. Track those variables and behaviors. Many of our “best intentions” to improve our health – actually back fire on us – causing metabolic mayhem.
Many fitness trackers do not gather the data necessary to give an accurate number of calories burned – thats totally OK – however, do not depend on this number in making health decisions. Example: Your fitness tracker told you that you just burned 1,000 calories in that 1 hour at the gym……that, sorry to burst your bubble, is not very likely. Please don’t go out and have a hunk of red velvet cake based on those numbers.
A recent study by Stanford researchers demonstrated that most fitness trackers are not accurate with calorie expenditure data. As explained above, calorie expenditure is a calculated value – determined by a number of biomarkers. If the tracker does not measure those variables – it is not going to provide the most accurate measure of calorie expenditure. If accurate calorie expenditure is the important feature of health tracking for you, choose a tracker that measures the pertinent data to make that calculation.
Physical Inactivity is the new smoking. We need to get people physically active for mind, body and soul, for the future of our children and the future of our economy. Health tracking promotes:
- health… proactive, predictive and chronic care health care
- a productive workforce
- a healthy economy
- a solid pivotal position for creating wellness programs
- creating health challenges and healthy competition motivating adherence
- corporate health culture
- family health
- healthy lifestyle choices
- good moods and happy hormones
I am in awe that we have the technology to really monitor our health – of course wearable devices are not a replacement of medical advice and diagnostics – but they are an incredible way to take charge of our health, and finally make that move from our society of sick care to a society of true health care.
Chief Health Enthusiast – Best In Corporate Health
Employee Wellness Toronto, Ontario – But offered worldwide!
- Shira is regularly consulted by Naturopaths, oncologists, health coaches on cancer exercise and exercise adherence.
- Has assembled over 20 health and fitness professionals with varying specialties to bring to corporate wellness programs
- Platforms include: Speaking, One-one/group health coaching, Retreats, Course development for in house delivery, Metrics to measure success available, Partners always included
- Now offering live interactive webinars, just as if each participant has a personal health coach – making corporate wellness programs affordable to all.
- Shira has been interviewed & published in hundreds of resources over the last 12 years:
Articles featured in: ezines, ArticlesInk, European Registry of Exercise Professionals, The National Post, Investment Executive Magazine, Directory of Greater Toronto, Canadian Leukemia & Lymphoma Association, Prostate Cancer Canada, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, Anytime Fitness, Today’s Black Woman, Today’s Seniors, Medical Fitness Network, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered), Willow (Breast & Hereditary Cancer Support),Myeloma Canada, Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Urban Poling for Breast Cancer, ROW – Recovery on Water for Breast Cancer, Sirius XM Doctor Radio