How many calories have you eaten today? How many steps have you taken today?
If you’re one of the millions of people tracking every morsel of food you’ve eaten using MyfitnessPal or FatSecret, or wearing a fitness tracking device such as the Fitbit, Jawbone Up, Nike Fuelband, Basis Peak, Garmin Vivofit or the latest Apple Health Watch or using a similar app like Google Fit or Moves, the answer is at your fingertips. In fact, you probably know how many calories you’ve burned too.
There were 90 million wearable nutrition, fitness, and health monitoring devices sold in 2014 and its projected the market will grow from $4 billion in 2015 to over $40 billion in 2020! (Time Magazine Article)
So what makes these nutrition, health and fitness tracking devices so popular? For most people, it’s the awareness of eating an appropriate amount of calories and staying active during the day, especially if you haven’t met your “step” or “calorie” goal. To put it simply, they motivate you to remain active and eat the appropriate amount of calories, and they do a good job accomplishing this goal. (Scientific American Fitness Trackers)
But these nutrition, fitness and health self-monitoring devices attempt to do so much more than just record steps and calories. Some measure heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, skin temperature, sweat rate, sleep patterns, etc. and soon they will be capturing vital personal bio-metrics such as blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipids, etc. A word of caution – because these self-monitoring devices are undergoing such a rapid evolution, a major concern is their on-going accuracy. Indeed, a recent article in JAMA highlights the variability of measurement (accuracy) among these different devices (JAMA Fitness Tracking Devices).
As a matter of interest, I’ve been publishing scientific research studies using data from these technologies and devices (apps, accelerometers) for over a decade, so they’re not “new” to me. The ones I use for my scientific research studies have been validated and shown to be fairly accurate. I cannot say the same for the ones currently on the market. In any case, they were originally developed to provide an estimate, not a direct measure of the calories eaten and the calories burned during physical activity so it’s probably not a wise idea to create a “balance sheet” of the calories burned using these devices and the calories you are allowed to eat. This approach will leave you frustrated because you’ll be either starving or plump.
In my view, a major limitation of ALL the current self-monitoring nutrition, health and fitness technologies and tracking devices, whether it’s a wearable tracking device or a mobile health app is their over-zealous focus on measuring the “quantity” of each lifestyle metric. Their goal is a zero-sum game of quantifying (measuring) the “number” of steps, calories, sleep, heart rate, breaths, beads of sweat, etc. and there is little if any attention to the “quality” (type) of these lifestyle experiences. In support of this, countless well-respected scientists and studies have documented the quality of our lifestyle choices is much more important than the quantity of each of these aspects of health.
For example, simply recommending “more” exercise as a public health initiative is considerably less effective than encouraging a balanced routine incorporating a variety of movement experiences such as resistance, interval, stretching, and endurance exercises as part of my PRISESM Protocol. And, I have the published research to back this up. Similarly, telling someone to simply “eat less” to lose weight is not very helpful, healthy or motivating in the long-term. Whereas, providing help and guidance with choosing the right type of high-quality, nourishing foods, especially protein using my Protein PacingSM plan is paramount to effective, healthy weight loss and body composition. Recently, I’ve been interviewed to comment on these nutrition and fitness technologies and tracking devices (Dr. Paul on Look TV). My take home message emphasizes the potential benefit these technologies will provide for workplace wellness to increase productivity, morale, and most importantly – health. The cost savings will be enormous to employers, employees, and the entire workforce.
Herein lies the next phase of nutrition, health and fitness technologies (wearables and apps). The industry is primed to develop a combination nutrition/health app and fitness tracking device that emphasizes the quality of lifestyle choices above and beyond the quantified self. Fortunately, I’ve been consulted by the health and wellness and healthcare industries to provide a novel approach using my PRISE App which can be integrated with most apps and wearable tracking devices to maximize the user experience. The PRISE App offers an individualized navigational tool that guides the user to the appropriate lifestyle choice to either lose weight, increase energy, or improve physical/athletic performance with the primary goal of enhanced health, fitness and wellness but without ALL the logging!
Ultimately, the PRISE App aims to drastically improve the way we deliver personal self-care and optimal health and performance at a global level. Fortunately, healthcare providers (physicians, etc.) and insurers (organizations) are fully on-board with giving more ownership to individuals (employees, patients, etc.) to monitor their own health metrics so they can reduce health care insurance premiums and medical costs so both sides feel incentivized.
Ideally, if we can get healthcare providers and insurers to consistently prescribe and encourage health Apps like PRISESM it will benefit everyone by motivating them to begin a healthier lifestyle or enhance the experience of those who already engage in a healthy lifestyle. PRISE app provides the ultimate user experience because it guides the user on a moment-by-moment basis during the day to choose the most effective lifestlyle strategy to enhance health and performance based on a customized experience unique to each individual. I’m most excited to be able to offer my PRISE app to all of you as a companion tool this book to create a lifestyle you can stay committed too and experience the best results ever! The PRISE app includes the best of my 30 years as a human nutrition and exercise scientist with proven results to be with you all time, wherever you go and with whatever you are doing. It’s like having Dr. Paul with you all the time to guide and coach you to your best results.
Stay tuned for an upcoming special offer for my PRISE App.