Unless you live off the grid, it’s hard to escape technology. It’s become a way to do just about everything, and health and fitness are no exceptions. But, unfortunately, certain tech aspects, like screen time and blue light exposure, are not considered good for you. So when some people think of technology, they might picture something that promotes sitting still or lying on the couch.
But the truth is technology can do more than entertain with video games and binge-able content. Apps, devices, virtual reality, and advances in healthcare delivery can identify problems, help you make changes, and keep you motivated. In addition, Tech can communicate data back to your doctor, providing ways to monitor lifestyle modifications, treatments, and diseases.
While counterintuitive to some, it is possible to use technology to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. As Oscar Wilde famously said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Moderate tech use should pose no harm to your health and can even improve it.
It comes down to whether technology is being utilized to increase or supplement things that enhance your well-being. Here are three areas in which you can leverage tech to benefit your health.
1. Physical and Mental Fitness
By now, you’re probably familiar with wearables and smartwatches that can monitor your physical activity. The apps that pair and control these devices usually let you track your food and water intake. Some will also keep tabs on how much sleep you’re getting and whether those Z’s are of good quality. In addition, you can set goals, see how you’re doing, and join supportive online communities.
Beyond the trend of wearables and apps that connect you to new workouts and fitness communities are devices like electric bicycles. These bikes combine traditional equipment with an electric motor, letting you get more out of your time behind the handlebars. You can just use the pedals or call on the motor for extra power to get over those tough, steep hills. And if you need a break, you can have the motor take over completely so you can enjoy the scenery.
Getting out in nature can improve your mental health, but when you’re unable to, there’s virtual reality. Devices that simulate and augment real nature scenes can decrease stress levels and boost your moods. For example, Healium, a VR app that promotes focused calm and stress resilience, has benefited the U.S. Air Force. With this technology, service members have achieved better focus, restful sleep, and feelings of serenity.
Healthcare providers have used virtual reality to help alleviate pain in burn patients, tricking the brains of patients. The pain signals sent from the brain are not as intense if they think they are in a polar ice environment.
2. Monitoring and Prevention of Conditions
Heart disease and cancer are the top two diseases that lead to death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 59,440 more deaths from heart disease than cancer in 2019. Technology can capture and monitor data that reveal early signs of heart disease, such as hypertension or high blood pressure. For example, Wireless, compact monitors can record and share blood pressure readings with your doctor.
These readings can show whether certain environments and scenarios put additional stress and strain on your heart. Some people, for instance, are more sensitive to stress and situations that can provoke anxiety. You may have heard of “white coat syndrome,” where a person’s blood pressure goes up when they visit the dentist.
Regular readings can help you and your doctor determine whether early signs result from genetics or environmental factors. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as stress reduction techniques. Data from monitoring devices can determine the impact of those changes.
Nanomedicine is a relatively new development in healthcare that can monitor diseases. Tiny robots get injected into your bloodstream to keep track of disease progression and deliver targeted medicine. The nanomedicine market is expected to grow to approximately $261 billion by 2023.
While tiny blood-borne robots might sound like something out of a scary sci-fi movie, promising results have been seen in cancer patients. With nanomedicine, results like enhanced diagnoses, increased circulation, and improved drug effectiveness are possible. Robotics and AI-related technology are also helping surgeons operate with greater precision. As a result, fewer mistakes are made, and surgeries are less invasive for patients.
3. Improvements to Your Home Environment
Smart devices can do more than order tonight’s dinner or play the latest tune from your favorite singer. For example, there are smart light bulbs with lighting features that mimic a natural sunrise. You can install these types of smart light bulbs in your bedroom to promote less abrupt waking cycles. By working with your body’s circadian rhythm, you can avoid unhealthy sleep patterns and reduce your risk of depression and conditions like sleep apnea.
Other smart devices can determine the indoor air quality in your home. These devices can monitor temperature, humidity, and noise pollution while also providing tips on making your environment healthier. You can sync the data to an app on your smartphone and use multiple devices to monitor variances between rooms.
The wave of the future includes smart home tech like floor and mirror sensors that detect falls and vision changes. While these developments aren’t mainstream yet, someday they may be. In fact, technology that uses built-in sensors to determine threats to your well-being is already present in luxury homes. It’s also available in some healthcare settings and can send alerts to medical staff.
More accessible options include smaller wireless monitoring systems with motion sensors that can alert caregivers when elderly patients fall. With these systems, you can decide where to place the sensors in your home.
A Final Word
Physical and mental well-being, disease management, and improvements to home environments are ways tech can intersect with health. As the healthcare industry is discovering, technology can transform the way individuals approach and receive treatment. Tech doesn’t have to be seen as the antithesis to achieving a healthy lifestyle. Instead, it can provide a knowledge-sharing platform that ends up being the difference between beneficial and detrimental choices.