September 23, 2012
How Technology Is Helping People To Get And Stay Healthy
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online
Technology is often blamed for making those using it less healthy, but an increasing number of people are relying on apps and gadgets to monitor their well-being, according to recent media reports.
For example, 63-year-old Larry Smarr of La Jolla, California uses a device known as FitBit, which serves as a pedometer while also tracking his caloric intake, as well as a Zeo, which monitors and graphs the different phases of his sleep cycle and then sends the information to his smartphone, according to CNN's Elizabeth Landau.
In addition, there are mobile apps that help Smarr and other health-conscious techies keep track of their heart rate, pulse and even their emotional well-being, the CNN reporter said. In all, such advances demonstrate how exercise and electronics, computing and conditioning, are increasingly becoming intertwined.
"A diet and fitness tracking app called SparkPeople has helped Michelle Jackson, 39, lose 102 pounds since March 2011," Landau said. "Jackson uses the app to schedule all meals she plans to eat for the next week, starting with Sunday, but can make adjustments if plans change. The app suggests the calories, fat, protein and carbs to eat daily, and also helps her track the number of calories she burns as she records fitness activities."
Other apps are helping those with serious health conditions, such as Type 1 diabetes, manage those diseases, explained Sheryl Ubelacker, a reporter with The Canadian Press. Such was the case with Sara Nita, who was looking for a way to electronically monitor and track trends with her diabetic son Marcus's blood glucose levels when she discovered Bant.
"I wanted something that I could view on my phone when he's away at school and the teacher calls and says: 'Do you remember what he was, whenever?' So I just wanted to have a log of it, instead of carrying a paper copy here and there and everywhere," Nita told Ubelacker. "I really like it because it shows ups and downs, and the way you can tell if he's starting to decline, maybe he might need a little less insulin or a little more, depending on his history in the last couple of days“¦ When he realizes his trends, he can say ... maybe I should talk to Mom about maybe changing my insulin dose, maybe calling the doctor to get an adjustment.'"
"The Bant is just one medical-related app under development by the University Health Network in Toronto," Ubelacker said. "Nita is using the public version of Bant, but UHN hopes to have a more advanced adaptation that automatically reads the data from a glucometer -- the device that takes blood-sugar readings from a skin prick -- available for free download soon."
As Hitesh Raj Bhagat and Karan Bajaj of The Economic Times pointed out in an August article, though, it isn't just smartphone apps that have become available for tech-savvy individuals interested in using that know-how to keep track of their own wellbeing. From scales that use Wi-Fi networks to upload data to an online account so that an individual can track his or her progress, to a pedometer that uses games to encourage people to participate in fitness activities, it can be easy to "use technology to plan and achieve your fitness goals."