Five Minute Read

With weeks of festive feasts, tempting sweets and indoor merriment, your physical health may have taken a back seat to all the holiday festivities. But alas! It is now January and time to get back on the road to health. As you start the journey, it might be time to consider how modern technology can help you reach your destination sooner.

Tech, apps and fitness gadgets to keep you on track.

Everywhere you look, you see them: wearable fitness gadgets. Fitbits, Apple watches, Garmins and other technology claim to help boost your diet, enhance your exercise routine, improve your sleep regime and keep your heart healthy.

But do they really do what they promise?

Jeffrey Lai, MD, MemorialCare family and sports medicine physician, believes the portability of wearable health trackers makes them ideal tools for monitoring healthy habits.

"We all want to feel better, be healthier, happier and more energetic, right? Eating right, getting enough sleep, staying physically active, decreasing stress - these are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and something I love counseling my patients on," says Dr. Lai. "But there's an old saying: 'You can't manage what you can't count.' Today's smart phone apps help out the most important healthy details."

Improve your diet.

Adjusting to a healthier lifestyle often starts with changing your diet. Overeating is a large problem in the United States, as processed foods and large portions have become a way of life. In order to combat these unhealthy habits, kitchen technology has emerged to help us keep track of our ingredients and portions.

While calorie tracking is not a new concept, some health apps are designed to assist you with tracking your daily food intake and offer health nutrition suggestions. Do you know how many cups of water you should be drinking per day? Not only will these health apps help you remember, but they will monitor your food and drink to make sure you are staying on track.

Work it out

While fitness trackers have existed for athletes for years, smart phones and watches now allow the general public to track their workout efforts with easier. This wearable technology can measure the number of steps you take per day, provide individualized workout plans for your body type and document your progress in order to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Some apps even send daily reminders to stretch, take a stroll around the office or just take some deep breaths. Dr. Lai explains that, "the best apps are the ones that not only track data, but also have reminders or social media features to help keep a person on track and motivated.

They also allow you to communicate with the fitness community, schedule daily workouts with friends and provide you with the most up-to-date research on physical fitness plans and strategies.

Get some sleep

In our fast-paced world, sleep does not often get the attention it deserves. Sleeping through the night can lower your risk of injury, allow for better weight control and put you in an improved mood for the rest of the day. If sleeping or waking up have become increasingly difficult for you, it may be time to consider some technology-based sleep methods.

Sleep apps allow you to take control of your nighttime habits by tracking, measuring and evaluating your sleep methods. Some of the most popular sleep-related apps allow you to track your sleep nightly, so you can see what time you fell asleep, how many hours you slept and what time you woke up. By keeping track of these sleep statistics, you can become more aware of your bedtime routine and can adjust as necessary.

Other sleeping methods include the use of blue light filters, which can help eliminate harmful lights that are emitted by phone and tablet screens and can significantly reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Nighttime filters on your electronics can also help you relax and are recommended for those who feel restless or anxious before bedtime.

Happy, healthy heart

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the most common heart condition in the United States is coronary artery disease. This ailment occurs when cholesterol builds up in the arteries and they become damaged or diseased. In order to prevent or treat this illness, physicians recommend several lifestyle changes, all involving monitoring heart activity. There are several monitoring apps and devices that exist to help someone with a heart condition measure and track their cardiovascular improvements.

In order to cope with heart-threatening conditions, it is important to measure stress levels. A physician may recommend a periodic ECG, or electrocardiogram, that can reveal evidence of heart strains. These days, many ECG involved wearing a portable monitor for 24 hours in order for it to properly indicate any cardiovascular abnormalities. Similarly, portable tests can be used for people with arrhythmia or A-fit, who can now use FDA-approved apps and devices to track their heart rate.

Other heart-healthy devices are available to the general public, with simpler trackers that produce daily heart rates or give daily advice, suggestions and support for people looking to improve their breathing or blood pressure. Wearable heart monitors and devices make it easier than ever before for people to remain heart-healthy.

It starts with you.

Personal health technology now has the power to collect data from all parts of the body and can report back your results. Monitoring your healthy activities can increase your motivation to exercise, get more sleep and eat better. By making the most of this technology, you can measure your effort easier than ever before.