Posted 7/14/2017 by UHBlog
Wearable technology, such as Fitbits and Garmin running watches, aren’t mandatory for a good workout, but they can certainly help you stay focused and achieve better results.
“They make exercise more fun and add another layer to something that may be mundane,” says sports medicine specialist James Voos, MD , who serves as head team physician for the Cleveland Browns and provides medical support to Cleveland Foundry, a rowing, sailing and fitness training center. “They help you accurately track your workouts so you know with more specificity how far you’ve run or walked.”
Depending on the model, wearable technology may track:
- Calories – both nutritional intake and exercise output
- Heart rate
- Core body temperature
- Breathing rate
- Blood electrolytes
- Water consumption, so you don't get dehydrated
- Sleep patterns
“A device that tracks distance and heart rate can help the most people,” says Dr. Voos, who enjoys using fitness trackers when he runs and cycles.
Beyond that, athletes should select wearable technology based on their needs, he says. For example, athletes trying to lose weight should opt for a device that monitors workload, which is a composite of time, distance and heart rate. Marathon runners and other endurance athletes may prefer a device that monitors pulse and electrolyte levels. Individuals who wish to compete with themselves or others would benefit from a device that collects and stores workout data; most of these models allow users to share data with each other. Other gadgets have features that coach and motivate athletes through app-based workout programs or by mapping out running or biking routes with a GPS.
“And if you’re coming off an injury, say a stress fracture in your foot or an ACL injury, (wearable technology allows you to) pace your workout, so you don’t do too much too fast and have a setback,” Dr. Voos says. “You can monitor if your heart rate is too high or your pace is too fast. It helps you have a controlled rehab program.”
Wearable technology is available in a variety of price points, and indeed, the cost of these gizmos has dropped substantially from when they first hit the market. Making them even more attractive are the bells and whistles manufacturers seem to be adding daily.
But Dr. Voos cautions athletes against becoming obsessed with wearable technology.
“I recommend, just like when you’re using technology in other areas of your life, you don’t want the technology to affect the enjoyment of the activity,” he says. “Use it as a supplement, but don’t rely solely on it. You want to listen to how your body feels versus listening to a device.”
James Voos, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon and Sports Medicine Director at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center and head team physician for the Cleveland Browns. You can request an appointment with Dr. Voos or any other doctor online.