Learn how technology can help you better manage your health, plus which technology devices are right for you.
Whether you're tracking what you eat or keeping on top of your medications, technology can be a helpful tool in managing your health. Health Information Technology (HIT) is just what it sounds like—the intersection of technology and health—and it's become an important industry in the past several years. One recent study reported that the number of consumers who use mobile apps and wearable devices for managing their health has doubled in the last two years.
While there are numerous online tools, apps, and devices designed to help you better manage your health and achieve your fitness goals, most of them are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. You should consult your doctor before you start using one to make sure it's a good fit for your specific needs.
With so many gadgets, gizmos, and apps on the market, it's easy to get overwhelmed by choices—particularly if you don't feel very tech-savvy. Here are a few simple ones to help you get started with health management.
How active are you? The point of an activity tracker, usually a wearable device, is to help you be more aware of your activity level so you can decide where there might be room for positive changes. The benefits of physical activity have been well-documented and can include lower risks for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. Some experts say that sitting is the new smoking, meaning that a sedentary lifestyle could have significant negative impacts on your health. Want to know how much you move around? Try one of these:
Craig Activity Tracker: This basic watch-meets-tracker doesn't have the name recognition of Fitbit, but it still records your steps, distance covered during exercise, and calories burned. This device can also use Bluetooth to conveniently sync with your smartphone. It has everything you need to stay on top of your fitness goals.
Fitbit: This wearable device was one of the first to hit the market and remains probably the most recognizable name. While a more advanced model can track almost every waking and non-waking activity, a Fitbit at its most basic counts the steps you take during the day, nudging you to forgo elevators or escalators and take stairs to reach your 10,000-step goal. Newer models can also track your sleep quality and heart rate.
Did you know that one of the most effective ways to manage your weight is to keep a food journal or diary? It's easy to lose count of snacks throughout the day, and keeping track is often helpful for people trying to cut down. With so many convenient food tracker apps available, you don't even have to bring a diary or notebook everywhere you go. Some popular nutrition apps include:
My Fitness Pal: This is one of the most popular food trackers out there. According to HealthLine.com, the app has one of the largest food databases. It can also save your favorite foods so you don't have to search for them every time.
MyPlate: Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your current weight, MyPlate will generate a daily calorie count to help you achieve it. It also connects you to a community of other app users, which can be a helpful support system in helping you achieve your health goals.
Some health apps, wearable devices, and online tools can help you manage chronic conditions by reminding you to take or refill medications, record vital signs, or track symptoms. AARP reports that preliminary research shows certain apps, like those that track migraines or chronic pain, can help ease symptoms. Some beneficial things include:
Rite Aid Mobile App: This free app can help you manage your prescriptions by making refills easy and convenient. You can choose which prescription to fill by opening the app and scanning the label on your medication. The app provides helpful reminders, letting you know when it's time to take your medication, when you should order a refill, and when it's ready to be picked up. You can also use your app to search for circular deals and online specials or coupons, ensuring that you always get the best deals on your favorite over the counter products.
Rite Aid Blood Pressure Cuff Monitor: For people diagnosed with hypertension, a home testing device can help keep blood pressure in check. Consumer Reports even says that taking multiple readings at home can sometimes be more accurate than the test results you get at a doctor's office. The Rite Aid Cuff Monitor reads your blood pressure with the touch of a button and delivers easy-to-read results.
Medisafe Medication Reminder: Did you take your medication today? This medication reminder is a simple, free app for your phone that can help you manage and schedule your medication. By setting up different profiles within the app, you can keep track of medications for other people as well. Medisafe will also track your prescriptions and remind you when it's time for a refill.
None of these options are meant to replace a health care professional, but the intersection of technology and health has created plenty of great options for people looking to track and improve their habits.
By Joelle Klein
Livestrong, Printable Food & Exercise Journals
Healthline, The 5 Best Calorie Counter Websites and Apps
Healthline, The 5 Best Reminders for Your Medications
Consumer Reports, Blood Pressure Monitors
Livestrong.com, Benefits of a Food Diary
Harvard Health, Activity Trackers: Can They Really Help You Get Fit?
Mayo Clinic, High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.