Although medical science might not be at that stage yet (although with gene editing, we’re getting pretty close), there are all sorts of technologies out there that promise to revolutionize our health. Here are some examples.
Wearables have been marketed as a sort of fitness companion - little devices that slip on your wrist or your shoulder and track how much activity you do. There haven’t been any systematic studies of wearables so far, but there are some studies which suggest that they do have an impact. One study, reported by MSN.com, says that people who have a wearable fitness tracker lose more weight than those that don’t. The only problem with the study was that most of the participants had college degrees, which makes it harder to generalize the results to the wider population.
Another study looked at the effect of having devices that had accelerometers in them to see whether people used them more often. Again, this study indicated that people who owned wearables did more physical activity than those who didn’t. However, many of the participants were also in contact with primary care nurses, which could have been the real reason why they were exercising more.
With that said, a study published in the major medical journal JAMA sound that people who wore wearable tech lost an impressive 7.7 pounds when they tried to lose weight.
Muscle stimulators are another way that technologies have tried to make losing weight and toning up easier. The most popular brand, Slendertone, works by sending a small electric pulse through a belt that is in contact with the skin. When the electrical pulse reaches the muscle, it forces it to involuntarily contract.
The popularity of these devices is clear. Sites like DontPayFull.com regularly offer money off to people looking for these devices. But do they help you lose weight? The evidence suggests that they are a good way to burn calories passively without having to exert any conscious effort. Sitting burns an average of 80 calories an hour, but with a muscle stimulator, that can be bumped up to nearly 130.
Alongside all the gadgets, like muscle stimulators and wearables are also a host of apps. Fitness Builder is an app that is available on the Play Store. It’s an app that keeps track of your workouts and has a comprehensive fitness database, allowing you to input practically any exercise and record your progress.
Another popular fitness app is Endomondo. This app is for people who want to have the convenience of a personal trainer at their fingertips. The first versions of Endomondo were pretty basic. The app simply tracked the route you took for your exercise as well as the time you did it in. But in recent years, the abilities of the app have been significantly expanded. One addition has been the ability to measure your heart rate and calories burned. There’s also now an audio coach who will provide you with motivation if you need it. What’s more, the coaching you get depends on the goals that you input into the app. If you’ve got a goal to run a six-minute mile, the coach will adapt to help you reach that goal.
It’s probably safe to say that technology that helps us lose weight and get fit is here to stay and that it will continue to get stronger in the future. It’s clear that right now, we’re only just scratching the surface of what is actually possible. As obesity becomes a major economic issue, the economic incentives to do something about the problem with multiply exponentially. People who deal with their weight and stay slim will get insurance benefits, have more energy, will live longer and will be more productive in their jobs, potentially earning more money.
The other way that technology could help in the future and is helping right now is to help moms become healthier in their habits. Already we’re seeing a bunch of apps that can help you rustle up a healthy meal, depending on the ingredients you have in your fridge. In the future, our kitchens will become interactive, and they’ll actively suggest recipes and ingredients we should use in real time. They’ll also probably have a thing or two to say if we haven’t been out for our daily exercise.