Wearable Technology: Fleeting Fad or Healthy Trend? A Sports Medicine Perspective

If you are like the majority of “holiday-goers,” then you just made a New Year’s resolution to live a healthier life. Maybe you are in possession of a new smart watch or fitness tracker that quantifies your fitness and calories burned. So the question becomes now: Will this be another gadget that goes to the “gift graveyard” or will this new wearable technology finally lead to your ideal state of health?

The American College of Sports Medicine recently released its Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017. For the second year in a row, wearable technology topped the list. Wearable technology includes smart watches, GPS trackers, step counters, heart-rate monitors, and anything you can wear which monitors your fitness.

Although this is a rapidly growing billion dollar industry, scientific researchers are not yet convinced whether this technology can truly change health metrics. A study in JAMA released in September 2016 showed the addition of a wearable technology device to be used as a standard behavioral intervention actually resulted in less weight loss over 24 months. Another study in Lancet, where people were given a Fitbit, did not show any statistically significant changes in blood pressure or weight.

As a sports medicine physician, I am constantly looking for new and creative ways to motivate my patients and help them find health. Each day, I speak with people trying new cutting-edge diets and exercise regimens, only to see their weight quickly return. Although I am not convinced whether wearable technology has any advantage over traditional weight-loss strategies, I believe these fitness trackers do something that fad diets and new exercise programs fail to do: Change people’s awareness.

Making lasting improvements in weight and health is not solely about counting carbs or joining a gym. It’s the realization that true health comes from an accumulation of all the little decisions we make throughout the day. Parking farther from your destination, forgoing the elevator, limiting continuous sitting, and striving for consistent sleep are just a few of the very simple tasks that wearable technology urges you to accomplish. It is a lifestyle make-over that is easy to implement and limited to no one.

So good luck to you and your new healthy lifestyle for 2017! Like all things in life, use moderation to increase your activity levels slowly, to decrease pain and soreness afterwards. Don’t hesitate to contact me to help you reach your fitness goals.


Cody B. Clinton, DO

 

Cody B. Clinton, DO
Attending Physician
Cooper Bone and Joint Institute

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