Over the last quarter-century, our health has become a greater priority than ever before. Our culture has rebelled against chemicals and questionable ingredients in everything from our food to our clothing and detergent. We have swiftly reshaped our commercial market and provoked innumerable conversations about diet and exercise. Now, however, with the plethora of arguments and research out there, it’s become easy to find contradictions to just about everything in the wellness sphere, often landing us in a state of confusion about the “best” practices for a truly healthy lifestyle.
While moderation seems to be a key factor across the board, there’s no denying that it would be reassuring to understand the benefits and risks of our health choices on a personalized level. While we don’t all have the resources to contract a nutritionist, private chef, and an on-call physician, the rise of health-centered smart technologies can provide insights and aid previously unattainable for the vast majority of us. Here, we’ll take a look at 7 such resources which help to track your health from the comfort of your own home.
When asked about the most crucial elements to human health, likely responses will include mentions of oxygen, water, sustenance, and sleep. Although we can recognize these elements as critical, we don’t always treat them with reverence; many individuals are willing to sacrifice sleep for entertainment, while others refuse to drink a glass of water, instead relying on the body to absorb it through other sources. And we wonder why we feel so bad sometimes! Thankfully, almost all of our habits can now be monitored and improved with minimal effort via home health-tracking technologies.
Let’s begin with sleep, as it is one of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle for many people.
There are all sorts of options when it comes to tracking and improving sleep quality, from falling asleep to waking up. Sleep trackers make use of a series of sensors to track metrics like how long we sleep, how good our sleep is, how long we spend in each sleep stage, and even environmental factors, like temperature or light pollution. Wearable sleep trackers, like those built into a smart watch, can even analyze data about our waking life to help provide insight into how our habits are affecting our sleep quality.
A great thing to use in conjunction with a sleep tracker (or by itself, as well) is a smart air quality monitor. These devices can track everything about the air in our homes, including humidity levels, noise levels, temperature readings, and of course, allergens and air pollution. Newer models can even help us discern the proper sleeping environment for those of us with issues like asthma and sleep apnea. Like with sleep trackers, air quality monitors can register problems that are affecting our health and provide suggested solutions to optimize our living environment.
Next on the list are two different styles of home health tracking related to the heart.
As some may know, when we age, our blood pressure rises; this may not lead to any lasting issues for some, but mismanagement of high blood pressure is one of the known causes contributing to heart disease. In turn, heart disease causes about 1 in 4 deaths across the United States annually, holding its spot as the primary cause of death across genders and most races. Obviously, this is a statistic well worth paying attention to.
Finding an accurate and reliable blood pressure monitor is an assured way to remain confident about our heart health. For elderly folks and those with known hypertension, the ability to track these metrics and easily send them to caregivers provides peace of mind formerly unavailable to us. Many of these instruments also read our pulse, making them an insightful tool for those on a heart-healthy exercise regimen, along with those recovering from illness or injury.
Standalone heart rate monitors are another advantageous way to track our health at home. These monitors come in two styles, which differ in technology. Wrist-worn heart rate monitors use light and sensors to determine blood flow and provide a reading. Many times, this feature is already built-in to a smartwatch, but more affordable options mimic a smartwatch and can often still be connected to a smartphone to provide data.
Chest strap heart monitors make use of electrodes and a transmitter to track heart rate, and are often seen as more accurate, making them preferred by serious athletes and those following a strict recovery regimen. Of course, this style can be far less comfortable and discreet than a wristband monitor, and it almost always requires a smartphone to acquire the data that has been tracked.
THE SPLURGE AND THE MUST-HAVES
Our final three ways to track your health at home differ in their price points and usage, but provide some of the most coveted functionality.
First up is an absolute splurge and one of the most futuristic home health technologies on the market: the smart fridge. These units are total command centers for all things food. A smart fridge connects to your home’s WiFi and can track meals eaten, calories consumed, and groceries needed. Through the use of cameras, the smart fridge offers remote access to see the inside of your fridge, which can be incredibly useful for moments of forgetfulness or uncertainty when out at the store. These machines can take note of things like expiration dates and also provide recipe recommendations based on dietary decisions. Slap TV functionality on the front, and we have hit peak extra, although the healthy intent seems to justify the creation.
In terms of more affordable must-haves, two choice gadgets come to mind.
The first is a modern spin on a home technology staple: the thermometer. When looking at the digital options and ease of use on the market these days, it’s hard to believe that a mercury-filled stick of glass had been stuck under many children’s tongues when they had fallen ill. As an alternative, having a thermometer on hand is invaluable. This is even more important when caring for the young and the old, who may not be able to articulate how they’re feeling.
Secondly, one would do well with an economical home health tracker that provides tons of metrics and often pairs with a plethora of other fitness devices is the smart scale. Beyond tracking our basic weight, smart scales can calculate body fat, bone density, resting heart rate, and even the percentage of water in our bodies. They are highly customizable to help usher us safely toward our fitness goals, be they losing weight, gaining weight, adding muscle mass, or otherwise. As with many smart tracking health systems, data is stored and can be shared with key members of our health journeys.
by Violet Knight