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4 Ways Technology is Improving Physical & Mental Health

4 Ways Technology is Improving Physical & Mental Health

As technology continues to develop, we’re becoming more and more aware of what affects our health and how we can stay on top of our own well-being. Medical advances allow us to come back from serious illnesses, and knowledge of the human body helps us stay fit and strong as we age. Technology has always improved our physical and mental health, and the latest advances in medicine and consumer technologies continue to make life better for millions. Whether you’re facing a chronic medical issue or just want to become healthier, these 4 technological advances can help you improve your physical and mental health.

1. Mobile Apps

We’ve come a long way since the old ad “there’s an app for that,” but the phrase has never been more accurate. Medical and fitness mobile apps are constantly popping up for both iPhone and Android users, and they’ve been tailored to meet almost every need. There are diet tracking apps, fitness apps, workout apps, and even apps to help women track their menstrual cycle. As technology becomes even more sophisticated, health apps may one day be able to track health stats like cholesterol levels and heart rate.

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Even today, health apps are helping to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. Apps promote healthy behaviors and engagement in overall health by keeping users accountable and able to see the results of their efforts over time. A recent study at the University of Kentucky Center for Rural Health on 10,000 uninsured patients showed that the cost of healthcare was reduced by 80%, hospitalizations were down 92%, and emergency room visits were down by 87% just by using communication and health apps.[1] The vast majority of app users agree that their devices help them stay healthier—96% said the apps help to improve their lives.[2]

2. Wearable Trackers

Wearable trackers often work with mobile apps to track users’ activity levels and lifestyle, making it easy for users to report data—to themselves and to doctors. Wearables also allow users to customize goals[3] and see historical data about their lifestyle. Most wearables also offer sleep tracking. Some of the most popular wearables brands include:

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  • Fitbit—The most well-known fitness wearable; different versions track steps, allow competition with friends, and keep users in sync with step goals.
  • Garmin—Garmin offers different devices to suit individual needs, from basic activity trackers to high-tech smart watches.
  • Runtastic—A health and fitness partner, some fitness watch options can even be worn in the water while tracking activity!

3. Telemedicine

Getting to the doctor when you’re very sick, live in a rural area, or have an ongoing health issue can be difficult. Telehealth strives to solve many of these problems by offering patients services over live video, email, phone, and wireless tools. Instead of always having to come into the doctor’s office for a consultation, some services can be provided remotely, reducing travel time and healthcare costs. This benefits both healthcare professionals and patients alike. 75.2% of nurses agree that telemedicine makes their jobs easier, and only 16% of patients would go to the ER for minor issues if they could use telemedicine instead. [4] Of course, some diagnostics require in-person examination, but many issues can be resolved with a simple consultation. Telemedicine also make check-in appointments much simpler for everyone involved.

4. Fisher Wallace Stimulator

Mental illness affects overall quality of life in a significant way. People who suffer from problems like depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have trouble getting relief, with their options for treatment limited. Nearly 50% of people with PTSD are not receiving treatment, affecting their ability to deal with everyday activities and stressful situations.[5]

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The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is a wearable headband that can be used to treat depression, and may be helpful with PTSD as well. The headband uses electric current to stimulate the brain, which can help improve symptoms of depression. For people who do not want to take medication for the condition, these treatments may be an option.

Increased Awareness

All of the tools we have available to us today are helping us to lead happier, healthier lives. A hundred years ago, we often had to guess about what would help increase our well-being. Today, technology can help motivate us, track our progress, diagnose, and treat health problems. This is only the beginning—technology gets smarter all the time, and will continue to help improve our physical and mental health.

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Featured photo credit: Kosal Ley via unsplash.com

Reference

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals

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    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

    Daytum

      Daytum

      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

        Evernote

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          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

            Conclusion

            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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