Want to take charge of your own health? A hot new trend in electronic self-monitoring health tools and apps is changing the way individuals approach health care – and you don’t have to be a gadget guru to use them.
It’s not hard to miscalculate your actual level of physical activity or how many calories you are consuming as you go about your day. Let’s face it, most of us underestimate how much we eat and overestimate our daily physical activity.
Among the features of self-monitoring devices are tools to:
- count steps or miles
- track caloric intake
- estimate calories burned
- track sleep patterns and hours
- monitor pulse
- monitor heart rate
- coordinate with self-reported data
- link to other devices
Some apps even make it possible to track mood during physical activity. Knowing these things can help us use our time more wisely and remind us to think twice before reaching for that second helping of dessert.
Jawbone UP is one example of a self-monitoring device that tracks steps, runs, workouts, eating, and sleep habits. You can even set a vibrating alarm to clue you in that you’ve been inactive too long.
Another fascinating self-tracking device, Fitbit, acts as your own personal trainer, offering motivational phrases like, “Let’s go!” to keep you on task. You can upload your data to a web account, where you can also record additional information that helps you to see the bigger picture.
Today’s sophisticated smartphones can link to other devices and make self-monitoring more efficient and detailed. Developers are currently working on mobile self-tracking platforms that can work with smartphone apps to coordinate with user-worn devices and with data from user questionnaires.
One of the most intriguing tools for self-monitoring is The Nike+ Fuelband, which is worn like a watch. The device allows you to set a daily goal for how many calories you want to burn while tracking your physical activities. As an incentive, the Fuelband starts with a red light that changes to green when you are approaching your goal, as well as offering awards for achievements.
The wireless device syncs with your iPhone so you can follow the results, and you can even use it to connect to Twitter and Facebook friends who also use the Fuelband.
People who self-track tend to strive to do better, rather than to throw up their hands in failure when things aren’t going well. Electronic self-tracking devices are making it easier than ever to follow our own progress and understand how actions translate into results.