Wearable wellness technology is all the rage, but many wearers don’t know the best ways to use wearables. In the even bigger setting of employee wellness programs, the use of wearables can be even more vague.
So, first things first…
What are wearables?
Wearables are a recent and developing technology designed to help you track your fitness activity. Most are designed as sleek bracelets or smartphone apps. This allows the fitness tracker to go with you wherever you go without being in the way. Many wearables sync with a phone or computer program to present you with your results and health status throughout the day.
These wearable fitness devices are meant to track your health risks by recording things like physical activity and sleep patterns. The devices feed off of the movement you (and therefore the device) make. As it picks up on your movements throughout the day, it presents the data to you in a complete and organized way, so you can hopefully keep track of your health status.
And, how do these individual trackers fit into your wellness program?
These fitness trackers can integrate with your employee wellness program in a variety of ways. Essentially, the goal of the device is the same goal of your wellness program: to get people to focus on their health. In fact, a recent study showed that 73% of people believe wearables can be very beneficial to a wellness program. A great use is to monitor risks. If your workforce, for example, isn’t getting many steps throughout the day, they're opening themselves up to a whole host of issues. You can also use the data alongside aggregate results from your biometric screenings to determine the direction your wellness program should go.
Aside from simply tracking data, you can use wearables as a way to increase engagement. The devices can be used as an easy and practical way to create contests and games. For example, the first person to reach 10,000 steps every day for a week gets a certain prize. Any activity to bring out a little friendly competition between employees is great to help increase engagement.
You can also use wearables alongside—or as—an incentive program. You could provide incentives for people who reach certain milestones as tracked by their fitness device. You could also offer wearables as prizes for people who reach other milestones or wellness goals. Either way, working these fitness trackers into your incentive program is a great way to get people on board.
But, what’s the benefit of using wearables at work?
There are a lot of ways your wellness program can benefit from wearable fitness devices.
First, you’ll be getting the data you need in real-time. As soon as someone takes a step, it’s recorded by the device and reported in their results. The device works with the individual to provide the quickest results possible.
Aside from speed, wearables have been noted as being a great motivating factor when it comes to reaching wellness goals. This motivation can stem from a few different things:
- First, the device serves as a reminder that they have goals to reach and need to take action towards a healthier lifestyle.
- Second, the device turns fitness goals into measureable, attainable achievements. It’s incredibly overwhelming to aim to “move more” throughout the day. Setting a specific goal, however, makes it seem like an easier task.
- Third, the device keeps you updated throughout the day, so you can decide if you need to put in a little extra effort or if you’re on pace for a great day. This reminder is simple, quick and now conveniently on your wrist.
Finally, wearables can be an excellent bridge to other healthy habits. Many trackers measure the number of steps and sleep quality, and include other great metrics depending on the device. To improve their results, wearers often take indirect steps that aren’t necessarily tracked. For example, someone looking to improve their sleeping patterns might cut back on caffeinated drinks. This type of behavior change will help them to sleep better, but it’s also an overall good diet decision.
Well, where will this technology go from here?
We all know that technology trends come and go. This shift towards tracking fitness in daily life is something we hope is here to stay! Depending on how you use the device, it could work wonders for your health, but essentially wearables won’t work unless you do. It’s fine and good to track your activity throughout the day, but if you don’t analyze that data and make a plan to improve upon it, the technology really hasn’t served its purpose.
That being said, these devices are built as a starting point to a healthier lifestyle. They’re meant to be used to ease the process. So in the future, they should have some excellent analytics to make all of that a bit more clear. It’s also rumored that more companies will be making these kinds of devices, so the variety and customizability is something else we’re looking forward to.
In the end, wearables are great as a motivator to improve fitness. They provide the wearer with all the information they need to make healthier choices throughout the day. The ease of use, real-time capabilities and integration into other healthy activities are exciting for the field of corporate health! Look into some of the specific devices out there, and see where they might fit in your employee wellness program.
What kind of wearable fitness device is your favorite???