Fitness tracking growing at a healthy clip

First available in the mid 80’s and emerging from simple pedometers and chest straps, activity trackers have changed the way we monitor our activity and may have a significant impact on our overall health. Their popularity has surged, with fitness enthusiasts being the primary target to more than 70 million people wearing some kind of watch, clip-on device, or bracelet.

Fitness trackers range in user-friendliness and price typically from $50 to $250 dollars depending on features, ease of use, and activity level. Recent innovations include clinically accurate heart rate monitors such as OMRON The Project Zero, which is aimed at patients with chronic illnesses, and a variety of sleep sensors which are able to discern movement and adjust sensitivity using an accelerometer.

Wearable technology has even expanded beyond the everyday metric to include more specific ailments and conditions. RightEye googles for example use eye tracking and gaming stimuli to measure vision performance which health care providers can use to assess glaucoma, impairment, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and ADD.

Hexoskin has created smart clothing with sensors woven into the fabric for measuring heart rate, pace, breathing rate and volume, steps taken, calories burned, and sleep positions.  The company recently received a $2.4 million space medicine contract to advance their bio monitoring system for shirts astronauts would wear aboard the International Space Station.

Whichever device you choose, it’s information may be a blur without the use of an app. Fitbit’s app, for example, can discern calories consumed, allergy sensitivity information, and level of stress, and Withings is able to measure weight, glucose level, and more.

A survey taken in 2014 found that 57.1% of adults who did not track their fitness would do so if their health insurance premiums were lowered as a result, while less than half (44%) stated that they would begin using a tracker if their healthcare provider provided better services or advice as a result.

Several businesses like Target and BP have gotten the notion and have provided their insured employees with fitness trackers, offering rewards for employees who agree to participate. Fitbit reports that sales to employers is one of the fastest growing aspects of its business.

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