How to Use Health Technology to your Advantage

Shannon Miller

September 9, 2021

We’re deep in the age of technology, for better or for worse. Luckily, when it comes to health and wellness, technology has had a substantial positive impact on health outcomes over the past couple decades. We explore the three overlooked benefits of health tech and how you can take advantage of the latest gear, gadgets and apps on the market.

Since the dawn of the internet, the health industry has experienced a transformation into a connected, app-based, knowledge-sharing entity. Nutrition information is available with technologies from grocery item scanning apps to YouTube videos proclaiming insights from industry thought leaders. Virtual group fitness has exploded with the onset of online memberships, video and app-based workouts and scheduling software. Devices can track and report on physical activity, stress levels and sleep trends by simply placing a microchipped strap on our wrist. While health tech is one of the largest and fastest growing industries out there, the areas we are seeing the most impact on health according to our experts are now way beyond the basic calorie and exercise counters.

More than tracking calories

One of the most popular uses of technology within the health and nutrition industry is tracking daily food intake. Software has been available to support calorie counting for quite some time, with enormous popularity among users: MyFitnessPal, an app specifically designed for tracking calories in and out, has more than 200 million subscribers. However, technology has evolved from merely tracking food, to tracking significant health data points like sleep patterns and glucose levels. Advances in software also enable physicians to connect with their patients and monitor their health. For instance, devices like pacemakers now have the ability to alert physicians of any abnormal heart rhythm activity. While calories and steps are worthy data points to keep note, technology in medical tracking has brought new importance to investing in advancements, as they can be life-saving devices for many at risk.

Support for mental health

There is no denying: mental health is physical health. A significant evolution in health technology over the past 5 years has been the inclusion of mental health supporting devices, ranging from meditation guidance (Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer), talk therapy apps (Talkspace), brain building digital games (Lumosity, Fit Brains Trainer) and even access to thoughtful podcasting on iTunes and Spotify. In 2020 alone, prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder was three times higher than the previous year, while prevalence of depressive disorder was four time higher than the previous year, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts suggest. Meanwhile (and ironically), other experts agree that the rise in mobile phone use, especially social media, has had a significant impact on mental health in both adults and adolescent populations. So, while too much of the “wrong” technology can be a detriment to mental health, investing time into apps and devices that are intentionally designed to support mental health can be extremely beneficial.

A new source of accountability

When sticking to a fitness or nutrition protocol, accountability is king. But…there’s an app for that! Well, several. Platforms like Noom and Lark are like having “a health coach in your pocket,” providing a real-time source of virtual check-ins to keep you on track with your goals. While some technologies are developed to push you into action, others help keep you honest with downtime, an extremely important aspect of reaching any level of success. Devices like Whoop track how well your body is recovering from workouts and lifestyle, keeping you accountable for resting when you need to.

With more technology being introduced every day, there seem to be endless options to subscribe to. To avoid getting lost in the overwhelm of products, focus on choosing technologies that bring the most value to your health and wellness goals and those that fit into your lifestyle seamlessly. Are you an avid runner and always wear a watch? Perhaps invest in a mileage tracking Garmin or Apple Watch. Do you stick to your nutrition plan best by writing down what you eat daily? A tracking app like MyFitnessPal could work. Or do you need a structured way to relax and recover? Meditation apps like Headspace or Calm can do wonders to your mental health.

While there are so many devices on the market to choose from, it’s important not to lose touch of your connection with your body. An overreliance on technology can bring us farther from our own body’s expertise in knowing what feels the healthiest for us. Rely on your body’s own intuition first, and use data points on a device for general guidance.

Composition ID is in no way sponsored or affiliated with any companies or brands mentioned in this post. Always talk to your healthcare provider before trying a new device or program that may impact your health.

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