Wearable fitness trackers have gained a lot of popularity over the past few years. The latest entrant into this field is the Apple Watch, a smartwatch with fitness-tracking abilities. With all the press the Apple Watch is getting it's only logical to ask: What are the benefits of having a mobile health device?
More Accurate Tracking
Most people understand that excess calories get stored as fat, and exercise helps dispose of those calories. But how many of us truly know how many calories we've eaten in a day, much less how many we've burned during a workout?
According to Tim Church, director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, people tend to overestimate the amount of calories they burn during exercise. Not only does that mean our workouts may not be as effective as we believe, but it could also translate to overeating later on.
So how do mobile health devices fit in here? Studies show that keeping an ongoing log of diet and activity greatly increases your chances of successful weight loss. A review published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that self-monitoring strategies helped people lose more weight than diet and exercise alone. Wearable computers like the Apple Watch and similar devices help do that monitoring for you. Simply being aware of how many calories you're taking in and how many you're expending helps you make better decisions throughout the day.
Along with giving you information that can improve your daily eating and exercise habits, a mobile health device can boost your motivation to do more than you might otherwise. They offer daily step goals and other visual incentives to help you see how much you're moving, and can send you reminders when you need to move more. Often, you're given a reward, such as a digital badge, when you reach a certain goal. It might seem a little silly, but earning these treats can help you stay on track with your exercise plan.
Health-focused achievements might include walking the American Heart Association–recommended 10,000 steps each day, burning a certain number of calories, or elevating your heart rate for a set amount of time. Many apps can be integrated with the Apple Watch and similar devices, and social features help you engage in some friendly competition with friends and family.
Whether you're looking for trackable stats concerning your diet and exercise output or need something to help you stick to a routine, health wearables can help. In the end, it's up to you to get your money's worth out of a device such as the Apple Watch, but if you find a product that works for you, you'll feel the fitness benefits — and learn more about yourself in the process.