How to Understand Data From Wearable Devices

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shutterstock_266651723Maybe your work wants you to wear one of those new health monitoring contraptions so it gets a price break on company health insurance. Maybe your kids are pressuring you to be healthier so you stick around a little longer. Maybe you’re ready to jump on the tech bandwagon. Or maybe you’re about to run a marathon. No matter what your reason, you know the first step to good health is to get moving. But do you really know what to do with all the information that wearable technology gives you? If you’re not sure where to start after tracking your health data, the following suggestions are just a few ways you can get the most out of your wearable devices.

Know Your Maximum Heart Rate

There are four kinds of heart rate: resting, maximum, training and recovery. It’s a good idea to know your maximum heart rate so you can stay under it. Pushing your body is great, but pushing to the point of exhaustion brings the risk of serious injury. If you get hurt, painkillers, immobility and lengthy rehab sentences might destroy all the work you’ve done in a matter of weeks.

Active.com explains that finding a max heart rate is a true science that professional athletes go to fitness laboratories to determine. But you can get a general idea of yours through a simple math equation. To estimate your max heart rate, subtract your age from the number 220. If you’re 38 years old, your max heart beats per minute is 182. When you’re exercising, use your wearable device to track your heart rate throughout your workout, and be sure to stay under your maximum to reduce your chances of getting injured.

Monitor Your Resting Heart Rate

Monitoring your resting heart rate can be valuable as well. Although your heart rate fluctuates throughout the day and you don’t need to monitor it constantly, your resting heart rate can be a great motivator. If you just started an exercise program, one of the best indications that your overall health is improving, is when your resting heart rate decreases. Just be sure to wait at least four to six weeks to see this result, advises an article on LiveScience. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see an immediate improvement, but use it as a motivation to keep working.

More and more research is showing how valuable stress-busting activities like yoga, meditation and other deep breathing techniques can be for an elevated heart rate and stress-induced illnesses. If you want to see if these activities are helping your stress levels, use your wearable device to document your resting heart rate before and after to see the difference.

Go Easy on Your Joints

The pedometer feature on many smartwatches is nothing new or too exciting, as they have been around for years. But as more research emerges on the benefit of low-impact and sustained movements as opposed to intense training, pedometers are emerging as one of the most used and valuable features of your wearable.

After an hour of running, the chambers of the heart are stretched to their max, preventing any further strength training or overall health improvement, explains James O’Keefe, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, in an article for Huffington Post. In fact, runners who overdo it and run over 25 miles per week have the same mortality rate as sedentary individuals. However, walkers who make the same 25 mile per week trek show no such negative results. So, you can use the pedometer on your wearable device to focus on the steps you take every day as opposed to the hours logged on a treadmill. Your heart and knees will thank you.