October 30, 2018
Too much sitting, we know, is bad for us; not just for our physical health but for our mental wellbeing too. One in four people in England undertake less than half an hour of “moderate intensity physical activity” a week. In fact – alarmingly - physical inactivity features in the top ten “greatest causes of ill health nationally.”[i]
While we may know that doing more exercise is likely to do us some good, the motivation to get to the gym, go for that swim or get out for that run can often be lacking, particularly now when the clocks have gone back, and the dark evenings start earlier.
Setting and meeting personal health goals
Here, technology can help. It gives us unprecedented access to information anytime, anywhere, from any place that can educate and inform us on aspects of our health and wellbeing. It helps us monitor our health, set goals to minimise habits that aren’t good for us and increase activities that are, and gives us the ability to measure how well we’re performing against our goals.
Flagging motivation levels can be given a boost through fitness trackers and smartwatches that report back on how much we move and how well we sleep. Smart phone apps provide support and motivation to exercise, to reduce how much alcohol we drink and to cut down on smoking.
One such app, part of the UK government’s public health programme Change4life, enables consumers to scan the barcodes of everyday foods to find out how much of the ingredients that we should minimise - such as sugar and saturated fats - they contain.
The month of October is, in fact, a time when the high-profile campaigns ‘Stoptober’ and ‘Go sober for October’ encourage us to make healthier choices, and social media and apps are integral to them.
Driving healthcare change
In healthcare, technology can make a significant impact, supporting practitioners and patients. The UK government is encouraging innovation in this area, with funding being made available to businesses with ideas on how to improve healthcare through technology.
Technology enables individuals to access more data about themselves and their wellbeing; to help them better manage aspects of their own health. There has been a dramatic rise in the number of health apps available with their number increasing by 78,000 in 2017 alone, to 325,000.
Technology is also influencing how healthcare providers treat and support patients and its impact is likely to grow. 5G will enable larger amounts of data to be gathered and processed, for example from sensors worn by patients and this will equip healthcare professionals to take rapid action to address issues of concern.
Technology is already influencing how we manage our health and wellbeing by providing a range of tools that help educate, inform and monitor progress towards personal health goals. For healthcare providers, it can provide an effective way of connecting patients with care and providing access to data to inform healthcare decisions. Its influence is likely to continue to grow.
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