Sunday Debate: Wearing fitness on your sleeve

Can fitness and health devices be more anxiety-inducing than informative? Or is there a way you can work around it?
Smartwatches today measure activity, sleep, and can even do an ECG
Smartwatches today measure activity, sleep, and can even do an ECG
Published on Jan 08, 2022 10:55 PM IST
Copy Link
ByLuke Coutinho, Jamal Shaikh

“Wearable devices can leave you anxious”

By Luke Coutinho

Luke says wearables can make you anxious if You keep checking your numbers. If that’s the case, don’t use them
Luke says wearables can make you anxious if You keep checking your numbers. If that’s the case, don’t use them

Wearable devices include step counters, devices to check your ECG, sleep and even your emotional health via meditation. But these devices aren’t 100 per cent accurate. They are just great indicators.  

Depending on your temperament, wearable devices can make you obsessive. Sometimes, they can control you. But we have to understand that the body has a gut instinct and also that the body changes all the time.  

It’s not okay to be paranoid about health. It puts you in a state of flight or fight which does not build great health. Any wearable should just be an indicator of what you should or shouldn’t do. 

The only way to avoid paranoia is to practice mindfulness. Use logic and reasoning. On some days your readings may be different because you slept less. On others, because you’ve eaten more. The data coming from wearable devices are dependent on many different functions.  

Wearables can make you anxious if you keep checking your numbers. If they make you anxious, don’t use them. Listen to your body instead. You know you’ve eaten too much when you feel stuffed after a meal. You feel palpitations in your heart when your heart rate has gone up. You get a headache if your BP is up. We have this intelligence built into us.  

Numbers are important because you get to see where things are leading. But they don’t define your health.  

Luke Coutinho, Holistic Lifestyle Coach–Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine and Founder of You Care-All about you by Luke Coutinho.

“If a gadget can upgrade your health, why shun it?”

By Jamal Shaikh

Jamal says a patch you’d wear on your skin could record blood glucose changes 96 times a day and give insights on how your body reacts to foods and activity
Jamal says a patch you’d wear on your skin could record blood glucose changes 96 times a day and give insights on how your body reacts to foods and activity

A few months ago, a newspaper story prompted me to look up UltraHuman, a fitness start-up based in South India that promised you better understanding of your metabolic health. A patch you’d wear on your skin could record blood glucose changes 96 times a day and give you insights on how your body reacts to different foods and activity.

I was excited. Not only am I a total sucker for new tech toys, I’m borderline obsessed with preventive health care.

I decided to sign up.

The device was still in its beta stage, but my request was accepted after two months of being on a waitlist, and I paid approximately 36,000 for three months. The ‘patch’ turned out to be ‘semi-invasive’: A tiny needle pierces your skin. But in two months of usage, inserting it has hurt mildly just once.

The insights, however, are worth every prick and every penny.

Some may call the feedback obvious, and just like your FitBit / Apple Watch / Garmin has a margin of error (moving your hands may occasionally count as steps taken), this device does too.

But my point is simple: if a wearable device can give you information that can help you upgrade your health, why shun it?

Also: haven’t you heard of filmmaker Remo D’Souza, 47, whose smartwatch asked him last year, “Are you not well?”, prompting him to head to a hospital and discover he was suffering a heart attack?

Jamal Shaikh is National Editor, Brunch and New Media Initiatives at the Hindustan Times. He launched Men’s Health magazine in India in 2006.

From HT Brunch, January 9, 2022

Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch

Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, January 26, 2022