In 2022, health and wellness are literally at our fingertips. While the natural health industry preaches unplugging from technology, perhaps we should consider using technology wisely for our benefit instead. Our smartphones, watches, rings, and pedometers give us easy access to daily data that can be used to improve our health.
We are worth it
While you don’t possess superhuman strength, lightning speed, or have X-ray vision like Superman or Wonder Woman, you are precious and irreplaceable. In today’s world, if you were to put a dollar figure on your body parts, you would be worth around 45 million dollars! Even 2,000 years ago, the ancient Roman poet Virgil recognized this truth when he wrote, “The greatest wealth is health,” and we should prioritize our wellness and care as one-of-a-kind treasures. Unfortunately, neglecting our day-to-day well-being can result in significant financial, time, and energy expenses.
Begin by assessing your health baseline with a comprehensive check-up by your holistic physician. After identifying, prioritizing, and possibly remediating initial health issues, track your progress and focus on your goals. One of the best ways to gather your day-to-day data to help assess your state of wellness is through smartphones, watches, or rings. You can share it with your doctor, who may pick up on a pattern or see an anomaly in your information. Keeping tabs on your well-being can help increase your motivation to exercise, get restful sleep, and make wiser food choices.
Tech playing a role in wellness
The Covid-19 pandemic has closed the gap between tech and healthcare. There is no need for us to visit our doctor for minor infractions, as we can telehealth over video. We should monitor our everyday lives to help us stay on track, maintain wellness, and be physically and mentally strong. To build a strong foundation, you need to know what you are working with.
Which tech is best?
The best tech is the one you will consistently use. While your phone can track a lot of information, it can’t accurately follow sleep, heart rate, and steps. Smartwatches such as Fitbit, Apple Watch, and Garmin are great, but if you don’t like watches, the Oura Ring and others like it are great for recording all the personal health data you need. While a myriad of health details can be tracked, from mental health and menstrual cycles to bowel movements and oxygen levels, let’s take a look at the most basic yet essential data to monitor.
Making your daily goal of 10,000 steps is a fun challenge that can feel like a game. Allow technology to keep track of your steps and check it periodically throughout the day so that you can remember to do things like take the stairs, park further away, take a walk during lunch, or walk the dog a little longer after dinner. Walking burns calories, which helps you maintain a healthy weight while reducing body fat. It has also been shown to increase energy levels, improve mood, cognition, memory, and sleep, strengthen the immune system, and reduce stress and tension. While you are getting in your steps, your body and mind benefit greatly.
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night, depending on your age. Ideally, it is best to sleep between 10 pm-7 am. Tracking your sleep can be helpful to determine if you are hitting the optimal number of hours needed to maintain wellness. Besides getting your sleep hours in, it is great to know if it takes you a long time to fall asleep, or if you are waking up at specific parts of the night without realizing it. These trackers can also determine the stages of your sleep cycle, such as light, REM, and deep sleep. While they aren’t 100% accurate, it provides a good picture and can help determine next steps towards restful sleep. If you’re looking for tips to improve sleep, you may reference my 2020 Almanac Article, “Get Some Sleep.”
Determine what your resting heart rate is. Once this is established, you can view the data to understand what happens at certain moments, or if there are specific patterns within your day where your heart rate increases.
Keeping track of your heart rate can also help you stay inside the fat-burning zone while exercising. First, determine your Max Heart Rate (MHR = 220 - Age), so someone at age 40 will have an MHR of 180 beats per minute (bmp). The ideal fat-burning zone is 60-70% of your MHR, so at age 40, it would be 108-125 bmp.
When you exercise, your heart rate increases. The more it rises, your body will determine whether or not to burn carbohydrates or fat. With high-intensity exercises, your heart rate is near your MHR, so the body will burn carbs since it needs the fuel to keep up quickly.
While it is impossible to eliminate stress, there are several ways to be mindful of it. First, some trackers can help measure stress metrics, such as your heart rate variability (HRV), which measures the time intervals between heartbeats. HRV can vary and be influenced by numerous factors such as diet, sleep quality, age, gender, metabolism, hormones, and genetics. These small fluctuations can help you understand how outside factors can affect your stress levels.
Apps for your phone
When we recognize our bodies are beginning to improve, we experience an increase in dopamine, a mental reward for the dedication and sacrifices made to get there. In addition, many apps can help visualize the progress you’ve made, which gives you the confidence to make smarter decisions. Little daily choices can add to significant emotional and physical well-being. Many apps can help with this, including:
- My Fitness Pal and other food journals are great ways to track all the food you consume each day. This will help you determine if you can have that pie for dessert or if you are hitting your daily macros of protein, fat, carb requirements to fit your everyday needs. They are easy to use by scanning barcodes and entering in your servings. Think about teaming up with a buddy on the app to help keep you both accountable.
- Habit Trackers are apps that help you build good habits and stay consistent with subtle reminders. They can help make your goals feel more attainable in smaller steps. You can use this for personal health habits such as drinking enough water, flossing, exercising, and meditating. You can also use habit tracking to learn new languages, log reading or journaling time, and make sure you spend time doing the things you love.
- Use a calming app for mental wellbeing. First off, understand using an app like this isn’t replacing the need for a therapist or psychologist. If you desperately need help, please seek out a professional or reach out to a friend. Use these apps for helping with minor stressors and even as a daily practice when times of trouble occur. It’s a great way to check in with your emotions and brings some balance back to your life. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, small, conscious meditating breaks can bring peace and clarity to help you address the stressors in your life in a more manageable way.
Our smart devices can play a big part in helping us achieve the state of wellness we all desire. They can help us collect data, analyze statistics, and make adjustments necessary to our health. These devices can be our health coach, sending us reminders and giving updates to help us maintain the dedication and persistence needed to help our bodies thrive.
Develop a routine to be your best self. You are worth it. Use technology to improve your health instead of letting technology use you.