Read Time: 9 Minutes
A gift that has been surging in popularity over the last few years has been that of fitness wearables such as a Fitbits, Garmins, Apple Watch or even a Whoop. These devices are actually very special because they are really the first generation of wearable technology that is giving us insight into our physical body. Imagine if you will this is our first look at the instrument panel as to what’s going on inside of us. For the first time ever, we are able to easily get a measure of some important daily data sets.
Often new technology can be a little overwhelming initially with so many features and options.
This short article will help give you some understanding of 3 easy things to monitor with your new fitness wearable.
They do way more than just telling us the time.
Virtually all of these wearables now have some form of “sleep tracker” built into them. This is a very beneficial tool because you might be shocked at how much sleep you are actually getting. You may not be aware that if you sleep for say a 7 hour window, you may in actuality be getting way less sleep than this.
Why does this happen?
Essentially our body is moving through sleep cycles over the course of the night. Believe it or not there are actually periods of time where we come out of deeper sleep cycles and are in more of an awakened state. Some of these we may remember in the night… ie, tossing and turning and some we may not.
A big factor to consider as to what can limit our length of deeper sleep cycles is our sleep quality in general. We have a previous article here that takes a deeper dive into this issue if you want to explore this further, but factors such as
Are 3 big factors that can dramatically affect our sleep quality.
Ok, not to fear.
After looking at your data for a few days you are able to determine that you are not getting as much sleep as you thought you were. The easiest tactic to help remedy this issue is to simply try and tack on an extra 30 minutes to your “sleep window.” This is what you previously though as your total sleep time.
Example: You go to bed at 11 and are up at 6 – Therefore you believe you would get 7 hours of sleep.
In actuality this is more like + - 6 hours of which Dr. Matthew Walker, amongst others has stated that this should be our absolute minimum. Manyhealth related factorsstart to appear with those who are consistently getting under 6 hours of actual sleep.
You are going to monitor and start to make sleep more of a priority with your new fitness wearable.
What should we look at next?
These new wearables are a great tool to tell us how active…. well actually more like how inactive we are. All of these devices have their own measures of determining your daily activity. These can range from step counters, caloric burn or a system specific measure of “daily strain.”
Whatever it is, this activity measure doesn’t have to be or seem complicated. A simple measure such as a step counter will begin to give you insight as to what is happening during the majority of your days. As we continue to learn more about aging and longevity, it is undeniable that moving often and moving well is a huge component towards staying healthy as we age.
Unfortunately, now it is very easy for us to become very inactive.
Imagine this scenario….
You wake up and drive to work.
You sit at an office desk through the majority of your day.
You drive home from work.
You have dinner and then spend the evening in front of the tv or your phone.
It is easy to see how inactivity can be drastically creeping up on us.
As mentioned, each device will have its own measure of activity and have recommended daily goals for you to hit. This can even be as simple as the 10,000 steps a day goal of which Fitbit uses. Whether your wearable measures simplistic steps or more advanced cardiovascular load, all that matters really is that you start observing and gain an understanding of what you need to do.
If you are struggling to get your activity level up, brainstorm on how you can be more physically active during your day.
Go for a walk on your lunch.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you can.
Get up and move around periodically if you are at a desk the majority of the day - This can help keep you active and stimulate some cognitive benefits.
Ok so we are now able to use our fitness wearables to better gauge our sleep and our activity levels…yet there is still one more crucial aspect here that we need to take a look at.
Resting Heart Rate (RHR):
Alright, now we get serious.
This measure we are going to break out might be our most important to monitor daily.
After a few days of data observation with your new wearable, you will start to understand where your baseline is for your resting heart rate (RHR).
This data may easily give you the most insight as to where your body/nervous system is on a daily basis.
Our RHR can slightly fluctuate daily, both up and down, on a day to day basis. This is common.
It is however important that If you start to see it trending up from what you have determined as your baseline, this gives you a big opportunity to intervene.
It can be presumed that when your RHR has been trending upwards over a couple of consecutive days (2+) that your sympathetic nervous system has been activated. This meaning that your system is under stress. This could be attributed to a variety of lifestyle factors from lack of sleep, to alcohol consumption, to your immune system being signalled to help fight off an infection.
Whatever the cause, this is your opportunity to intervene.
Instilling some sound lifestyle practices here can help get you back to your baseline. If you are battling a minor infection like a cold virus, this can often stop it in its tracks before you even notice any symptoms.
What are the best methods of intervention? Sleep & good nutrition would be at the top of our list for sure. For more a deeper dive into either of those areas please check out some of our other content in our live well section.
All in all, your fitness wearable is a very beneficial tool that can help you start to receive instant feedback into your complex biological system that is your body.
Paying attention to the changes and modifications you make in your lifestyle are easily presented with one of these devices, no matter what they are. These wearables can help keep you motivated, accountable and provide you feedback as you work towards various improvements in your lifestyle.
Thanks for reading and following along with us in 2019.
We wish all the best to you and your family in 2020.
Live Your Epoch.