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Did you just get a new wearable device for the holidays?

Just like a new pair of running shoes, a Ninja blender, or even a fluffy new blanket, these items are excellent motivators to start running, eating right, or getting a couple of extra minutes of deep sleep.

Armed with a new tool, learning how to best utilize your new device will encourage better habits and make you more aware of your long-term health.

As a certified health coach at PartnerMD’s Short Pump office, I regularly help people incorporate wearable devices into their health plans. Here are three ways you can best use your new watch, ring, or app to improve your overall health.

Person tracking beats per minute on smart watch

1. Use wearable devices for preventive measures.

Wearables like FitBit and Apple Watch can take your blood pressure and heart rate to provide real-time information.

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the measure of the regularity of the time between pulses. It can show when your body is under stress.

For example, if your heart beats in sync with a metronome, your HRV is close to zero. But if the time between pulses frequently differs slightly from beat to beat to beat, your HRV is high.

Perhaps counterintuitively, more variability in the time between beats may suggest you’re more relaxed and well. Research has shown that low HRV could be associated with physical or emotional stress, including from an illness.

Another example is COVID-19. Data from wearable devices has shown that an uptick in heart rate happened four days before people felt any COVID symptoms. By one estimate, 63% of COVID cases could be detected from changes in resting heart rate before the onset of symptoms.

2. Use wearable devices and apps to monitor weight loss.

If you have an iPhone, you can set up Apple’s Health app, either on a watch or phone connected with another wearable device, to learn about resting energy and how to set yourself up for the correct caloric count.

Resting energy is an estimate of the energy your body uses each day while being minimally active. This creates a more specific number of daily calories to set goals for those looking to lose weight over time.

3. Use wearable devices to improve your sleep.

Although the most effective form of tracking sleep is to be a part of a sleep study, utilizing data from other trackers can help identify patterns and learn more about your daily activities and how your body recovers.

  • Do you feel sluggish when you sleep from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. but energetic if you shift your shuteye to 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.?
  • Do you sleep better when your bedroom is cooler or on days you exercise?
  • Is your sleep disrupted if you have caffeine after lunchtime?

Use the information from your wearable device to better understand your sleep patterns and develop a more efficient bedtime routine.

Physician explaining wearable device data to patient

Get help using your new wearable device from PartnerMD

If you are looking for baseline user instructions and getting your device activated, PartnerMD’s Wellness University has several in-person seminars to help you get set up with the apps. To sign-up for your local group, use the links below to enroll in various approaches:

These classes use a small group approach to provide a more in-depth look at your new piece of hardware and show you how to identify the bells and whistles. Setting up accounts with the corresponding apps and identifying the new data you are getting and how to utilize it to the best of your ability are the focal points.

Working with a PartnerMD health coach through Wellness University only strengthens your chances at continued accountability for long-term success.