Wearable technology; fad or fab?

According to the American College of Sports Medicines findings, ‘Wearable Technology’ sits at number 1 in their Top 10 Fitness Trends for the year, for the second year in a row, so it looks like whilst some thought they were a fad which we’d see the back of in 2017, the majority still think they’re fab! 

We have to consider wearable technology from two perspectives; the individuals and the health practitioners.

From a health practitioner perspective, a key goal is to get people to meet the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour guidelines for health and well-being benefits.

For the individual, it is an easy, accessible, and instant way for people to track their daily activity levels, and this is one of the reasons for its popularity. For many people, the step count reminds them of the amount of sitting they do and allows them to self-set achievable goals, and motivates them to increase their overall activity levels on a daily basis. Some versions also track caloric intake and expenditure, heart rate, exercise performance and fitness improvements across time. This requires more user effort, but for some people this seems to be a really effective way for them to track their progress, and can assist in motivation in the long term.

The other role comes from the health practitioner view. Unfortunately evidence has shown that when discussing with their practitioner, people tend to report higher levels of physical activity than they actually partake in. Wearable technology provides more objective data that the individual can’t manipulate or exaggerate.

We are also starting to see research projects involving patients exercising, or going about other activities using wearable tech, which provides real time information to health professionals about health status. This has great implications for people living in rural and remote areas who can’t be monitored as easily, or higher risk clients who need to be closely observed.

Different things motivate different people, so this method may not have a large impact for everyone, which explains why they’re popular with some and not others.

To conclude; wearable tech often promotes increased activity in the short term, but this motivation can decrease over time especially if goals are ‘being met’ and new goals aren’t being set. This is common to most activity routines, which is why it’s important to mix it up, and find what works to motivate you to keep moving.

It’s important to choose a device that suits budget, motivation, has good useability, with technology that the person is comfortable to use and will help people move towards their specific goals.