Fashion will come and go, but it’s starting to look like wearable devices in the world of fitness, are here to stay. During the last few years it has become increasingly common to see people carrying small screens on their wrists – but what is it really all about?
When we talk about ‘Wearable Technology’, the word, ‘Wearable’ here, is an expression that refers to a technological device that can be worn on the body. In the fitness world, a majority of these devices are smart watches, fitness trackers, smart clothing etc.
The charm of wearables in the fit field can come from a variety of aspects, which include: its size, portability, design and powerful functionality. But beyond the particular uses, as with fitness devices, wearables are objects that are adapted to the daily life of its users, which do an excellent job in monitoring and aiding in the improvement of overall health.
From Fitbits to Apple watches, these devices are available in all shapes, sizes, colours and price range.
The experience they provide is designed to be based on your lifestyle, in the simplest way possible. The simple act of wearing these devices can affect your life in a very positive way. Keeping control of your everyday behaviour has never been so easy. Most users of wearables, both smart watches and physical activity wristbands are not even aware that the device is collecting information for most of the day and can help them obtain critical information about their style of life, being able to make informed decisions and make changes in their life habits – without becoming obsessed.
Below, we look at a few impacts of wearable technology in fitness and health.
Resting heart rate
One of the greatest advantages of wearable devices is the opportunity to keep track of your resting heart rate. How your heart behaves during times of low physical intensity can say a lot about your health. In order to obtain data about your heart rate, it is necessary that the device has the function and the sensor to measure heart beats. Although this sensor will raise the price of the device – it is worth the investment.
The “wearable” will use the statistics of your heart rate at rest and contrast them with your maximum to determine the recommended cardiac areas during physical activity, thus making your workouts more effective. Measuring your heart rate will also give you a daily count of the number of calories burned, more accurately than ever before.
Although this technology has not yet been developed to the point of wearable devices automatically recognising the foods that we consume, the immediate solution provided by the mobile applications that connect with your watch work very well. In order to effectively calculate the calories burned in line with the food consumed, we need to be honest with ourselves when manually recording the food we eat throughout the day.
The developers of these applications have incorporated bar code readers, calorie information by brand and geographic location to help users register their food. In addition, the applications of brands like Fitbit detect the record of individual registration to collect the trends of the individual user and thus facilitate the registration of ingested food. Depending on your nutritional goals, identifying a daily goal of calorie deficit and adding it to your profile in the application will help create effective alerts, warnings and, ultimately, help you stay on track.
Most people assume that these devices only measure the number of steps you take during the day. However, the more sophisticated ones also measure physical activity, depending on the type of exercise you are doing. Running for 30 minutes is not the same as lifting weights or doing the elliptical for half an hour. You can keep a more accurate track of the number of calories you burn, the intensity of your exercise and your individual progress throughout the year.
Do not underestimate the importance of sleep. Although sometimes our lifestyle does not always allow it, a lot of renowned health organisations recommend that adults sleep a minimum of between 7 and 9 hours per night. A wearable device such as a smartphone has the ability to automatically track the hours you sleep by simply recording your movements. This information will be stored in the application of your wristband through Bluetooth and will help you to understand more about your sleep patterns in order to provide you with the necessary information to improve your lifestyle.
Having control over the number of hours you sleep will improve your mood, your memory, increase your life expectancy, reduce your stress levels, help you control your weight and can even stimulate creativity.
Top wearable devices to look out for
The Withings Steel HR
The new Steel HR is a wearable device that stands out for its elegant design, crafted in the tradition of the luxury watchmaking. This device features a stainless steel case, a 25-day battery life, activity tracking and premium leather straps.
The Steel HR allows you to run, walk , swim and sleep, while obtaining detailed metrics of body activity. With heart rate monitoring, multi-sport tracking, connected GPS, and sleep tracking; you have the perfect personal trainer & health coach device.
This smart watch is synchronised with the smartphone, whether Android or iOS.
Fitbit Alta HR
The Fitbit Alta HR is a revolutionary wrist bracelet that in addition to measuring daily exercise also measures sleep. These innovations at Fitbit take the name of Sleep Stages and Sleep Insight.
The measurement of sleep is achieved through the monitoring of heart rate, which provides data that allows to know how the different phases of sleep occur: light, deep and REM. The device also measures the wakefulness time. The data is recorded and analysed to generate personalised reports that advise what to do to improve sleep, according to the diagnosis.
You can also get your hands on the Fitbit charge 2 or 3, which offers even more amazing features like: over 15 different exercises, more advanced sensors (detection of oxygen saturation in blood, with which can be used to detect possible sleep apnea), monitoring of womens health, 24 hour monitoring of heart rate (pulse), automatic recognition of exercise, monitoring of calorie expended, steps taken, sleep and so much more.
JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate Headphones
This wearable is an in-ear Bluetooth headset that has a built-in heart rate monitor. In the market there are few hearing devices with integrated heart rate sensors and the performance of wearables varies widely between brands. In this case the headset is under the brand Under Armor, which had the engineering of audio experts JBL.
The records taken by the headset are sent wirelessly to a platform, which allows for detailed follow-ups of the training sessions. The analysed cardiac information allows to plan the physical activity.
Apple Watch Series 4
If on other occasions Apple has focused more on sport and the daily movement, the news of the Apple Watch Series 4 is aimed at general health, where we can find new and very curious and useful features.
The Apple Watch Series 4 is a must have if you’re looking for an “…ultimate guardian of health”.
A very interesting feature in this wearable device, is the introduction of electrodes under the back, made in black ceramic and sapphire crystal that allow us to perform an electrocardiogram in any place and at any time. All you have to do is place your index finger on the crown of the watch for 30 seconds: the pumping of blood is translated inside the watch in electric pulses that the Apple Watch uses to offer you back your electrocardiogram.
Not only that: the watch is able to recognise if your heart rate is normal and, if not, sends an alert. In addition, your electrocardiogram is saved in PDF format on your phone, with all your data, so that you can share it easily with your doctor.
It also recognises if your heart rate is too low (and sends you an alert, likewise). The Apple Watch Series 4 is also capable of recognising cardiac arrhythmias : an irregular heart rhythm that may be related to other pathologies. This is very interesting since many people do not know that they suffer from these arrhythmias.
The other main novelty of the Apple Watch Series 4 related to health has to do with two other sensors: the accelerometer and the gyroscope, which are now eight times faster. What is this for? Mainly to detect and recognise patterns of movement: in addition to recognising movement and even exercise automatically, as was the case in previous models, Series 4 is now able to detect falls, one of the most frequent causes of injuries.
The Apple Watch Series 4 automatically shows us on the screen, the option to call emergency. Moreover, if after falling we do not move for a minute, Series 4 automatically calls for emergencies and sends our location and an alert to our emergency contacts that we have selected… Absolutely amazing!
Coros Smart Bicycle Helmet
This wearable device has come to stay in the heart of bike lovers. The device consists of a helmet technology that can be called an intelligent helmet.
With the Coros helmet, the cyclist can dispense with the use of headphones while riding. Traditional headphones are dangerous because they do not allow you to listen to background sounds, but the Coros helmet does not block them. The innovative helmet features bone conduction technology. In this technology, electrical impulses are not converted into audible waves but into vibrations that are transmitted directly to the inner ear.
The Coros helmet allows to track the routes and in case of collision, automatically sends a message to another person to give notice of a possible accident.
Wearable technology can help promote self-awareness and the development of healthy habits that you were not even aware you needed to improve.