A person looking a fitness watch focusing on breath

It’s 11:30 and I have been at work for the past 3 ½ hours. We are busy and working in a difficult environment in uncertain times. I have to calculate a formulation for a child who won’t take his medication, there’s a new prescription with multiple interactions that needs addressing and three phone lines are waiting to speak with me. All of a sudden, my wrist vibrates and as I look at my watch it tells me to “breathe.” It seems intuitive, as I’ve been breathing successfully for the past 48 years. Nevertheless, I take the minute, focus on some diaphragmatic breathing and all of a sudden, I am feeling better.

How can wearable technology help our health? My watch obviously knows when I need to take a breather. It also measures my heart rate and how many steps I take in a day. It can even warn me if noises in my environment can adversely affect my hearing. The heart rate feature will detect an irregular heartbeat which could be fatal. Now, I would never substitute a piece of technology for the informed diagnostic skills of my doctor, but I could certainly bring this piece of information to him and let him assess. A similar thing happened to a patient of mine. His portable device told him that something was wrong, and so his doctor ordered a test and sure enough there was an issue that was quickly remedied.

There are many other forms of wearable technology from insoles that measure how you walk to headbands that measure your heart rate and stress. Glucose sensors are among the more popular wearable tech devices and attach to the upper arm or abdomen to measure blood sugar under the skin. Then, they will transmit the readings to a glucose meter or a smart phone, which tracks the results. This gives the user and their doctor a better overall picture of how diabetes is being managed and adds a level of comfort and convenience to their treatment, if required.

Technology companies come up with new ways to guide us to healthy lifestyles. How we use them determine our outcome. Like any tool, you have to use it and do the work to get results. That bow-flex does little to crunch your abs if all it does is hold hangers of clothes. Similarly, wearable tech devices can give us a wealth of info that we can act upon or not. Take care of yourselves and each other.