How Can Wearable Technology Improve Your Health?

Similar to the impact of smartphones ten years ago, smartwatches and other wearable devices are revolutionizing the digital landscape. However, what is most exciting and appealing about this technology is how it is changing the healthcare industry and transforming what we mean when we talk about wellness.

Today, information previously accessible only through specialized medical care is around our wrists, at our fingertips, and on our feet. Sleek, practical, and user-friendly, wearable devices empower users to become experts in their own wellbeing, supporting them to improve physical fitness, manage stress, and detect, track, and treat medical conditions even at very early stages.

The term wellness can mean different things to different people. It can refer to physical fitness, mental health, overall physical health, degree of stress or lack thereof, and even someone’s sense of overall satisfaction or contentment. These different types of wellness fluctuate over the course of a day, week, month, year, and lifetime—this is normal and unavoidable! Wearable healthcare devices reflect this idea that wellness is a daily commitment, even if it can’t be a lifelong reality. Today’s wearable devices, which studies show are more widely used than ever, provide constant, high-level data that helps us to better understand ourselves so that we can make informed, day-to-day decisions and advocate for ourselves and our health, whether that means gradually improving cardiovascular strength, taking a walking break at work, or making a doctor’s appointment to discuss new data from our devices.

Below are some of the important ways wearable technology can have a positive impact on wellness.

How can wearable technology improve your physical fitness?

While there are a variety of benefits to wearable technology, one of the most obvious is its impact on physical fitness. Many wearables got their start as fit devices, tracking data like step count for users to get a better sense of how far they walked in a day. These early devices, like smartwatches, many of which remain popular, were highly effective at motivating users to prioritize and increase physical activity over the course of a day, demonstrating the impact of walking instead of driving to the store or taking a quick stroll around the park after work, all in pursuit of a daily step goal. 

Smart technology has advanced significantly. Whereas early devices tracked broad data, today’s wearables record sophisticated biometrics, giving users insight not only into what they are doing, but how they are doing it. Some devices, such as smart rings, can detect heart rate and analyze physical activity. Smart apparel, such as footwear, can now measure stride length, cadence, and speed, not simply step count, and provide valuable data for users who want to understand the specifics of how they move.

Often paired with easy-to-use smart phone apps, wearable technology can track activity trends over greater lengths of time, helping users understand progress on their personal fitness journeys. Today’s devices are also both more specialized and more integrated into other components of their users’ fitness needs. For example, there are now activity-specific devices such as smart helmets, which can play music as well as sense falls and initiate alarms, in addition to smart swimsuits, caps, and goggles, which can replace watches for a more hydrodynamic swim.  

How does wearable technology help stress management and mental health?

Physical fitness is only one aspect of overall wellness. Stress, lack of sleep, and an imbalance between work, rest, and play can not only hinder fitness goals, but also negatively affect overall health and wellbeing. This is why many wearable devices are designed to manage stress, streamline day-to-day tasks, and increase motivation to make daily physical activity approachable and appealing. Smart earphones aim to reduce stress by improving sleep through the reduction of background noise and by playing relaxing sounds or music. When paired with a smartwatch or other fitness tracker, these devices show users sleep patterns over time. Other devices, like smart rings, can also monitor sleep patterns, as well as other biometric data like body temperature, providing useful information about the wearer’s physical state while resting.

Other wearables, like smart glasses and smart clothing, help to streamline disparate components of day-to-day tasks, helping users streamline and simplify their activities. Smart glasses can display information in real time, showing incoming calls or GPS navigation, in addition to including features that put creativity and play front and center, such as the ability to take pictures, shoot video, and play music. In addition to recording biometric data, smart clothing can pair with other devices to control music, phone calls, and directions while on the road. Smart rings can also be used for contactless payment and to lock or unlock doors. And if you struggle to include rest and self-care in your workday, wearables can remind you to take breaks from sitting too long, helping you to include movement even when you’re at the office or home office.

These important features of wearable smart technology emphasize one of the core benefits–it empowers its users. With constant access to individual health data, users can take their wellness journey into their own hands. Giving people information and agency when it comes to their health is important. Research supports that maintaining a sense of control and security over life’s everyday rhythms can reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing. 

Can wearables diagnose issues with your physical health?

One of the other main benefits wearable technology provides is health measurable. Wearable smart tech measures personal health data continuously to analyze how specific organs and body systems are functioning, as well as how small tendencies, subtle movement patterns, or micro-injuries add up over time. 

Traditionally, the healthcare system has treated health problems and injuries retroactively. We seek help once something becomes an unavoidable issue. Wearable technology is changing this, shifting the paradigm from treating symptoms to addressing root causes. Wearable watches, rings, and apparel can sense heart rate and body temperature, giving users insight into serious medical conditions like heart arrhythmia. Cutting-edge medical wearables can track vital biometric data like blood oxygen, blood pressure, and hydration, showing users if they have high or low blood pressure or are dehydrated. Wearables that track biometric data like stride length and cadence can alert users if these aspects of their movement are dysfunctional or shifting over time, which, if untreated, might contribute to joint pain or injuries, or point to early symptoms of other serious health concerns like drop foot. 

Because wearable devices monitor biometrics and contextualize them with other data, they can reveal hidden health concerns before they turn into bigger problems, potentially reducing the chance of invasive, expensive, long-term treatments or surgeries. In fact, a recent survey of people who currently use wearable healthcare devices revealed that 86% felt it improved their health and quality of life, and enabled their doctors to provide a higher quality of care.  

Taking care of ourselves isn’t always easy, but wearable technology is making it simpler, more approachable, and more enjoyable than ever before. Whether you’re looking to improve your fitness or simply hoping to keep an eye on your overall health, today’s wearable devices not only monitor vital biometric data, but also track and contextualize that data over time, making it understandable and actionable, whether that’s in the gym or at the doctor’s office. By offering features that integrate tasks, in addition to those that help or remind us to make healthy choices—like supporting a good night’s sleep or notifying us when we haven’t moved for a while—wearable devices support a balanced, less stressful life, giving users the data they need to make their wellness a daily practice.


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