Today’s nimble technologies have led to greater convenience across the board. They have also given us new ways of managing all aspects of our lives, including our health and wellness.
There are plenty of ways to improve one’s health through technology, from apps that measure our sleep patterns to integrated heart-rate monitors that track our sports performance.
Consumers who care about their health are bombarded by products and messaging from companies, and the range of smart gadgets on offer is expanding year on year.
But which of these tools are genuinely helpful?
Here, we take a closer look at the best smart gadgets to improve your health. First, let’s examine what a smart health gadget is and how these products relate to the Internet of Things (IoT).
Smart health tools and the Internet of Things
Smart health gadgets are IoT products. They are part of the Internet of Things, a term that encompasses any and all internet-connected things and the broad networks that connect these things.
Things here can mean many different devices and tools. A smart fish tank and a smart pacemaker, for example, are all part of the IoT. As are speakers such as Alexa and Echo and digital picture frames that are controlled by an app.
IoT is vast and growing year on year. In fact, experts say that a decade from now, we’ll “move from turning the lights on and off with our voices to total immersion in the Internet of Things (IoT).”
Many IoT tools are designed to make life easier and more convenient, such as app-controlled or voice-activated light switches. And there are also plenty of IoT tools designed to help users control and manage their health. Often, when we think of smart health products, we think of apps.
Are apps part of the IoT?
Yes and no. Smartphones and other devices that run apps are certainly IoT products in that they connect to and rely upon the internet for full functionality. However, apps are software programs as opposed to physical things.
Mobile apps also play a significant role in the growth of IoT in general. For example, plenty of IoT products, including those designed for one’s health, have a corresponding mobile application. And besides physical devices for health, thousands of apps center on greater health and well-being.
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at what smart products are and how these tools relate to the Internet of Things, let’s review X of the best smart gadgets on the market.
Ranked: The top 5 smart health gadgets
It’s time to cut through the noise and marketing and take a look at the IoT smart gadgets that really are helping users achieve their fitness and overall health goals. Let’s begin with our top pick, smart watches.
1. Smart watches
Smart watches are one of the most popular healthcare technology products available. Many include integrated heart-rate monitors and pedometers that help wearers track their steps and ensure they’re working out at an optimal heart-rate level.
The best of the bunch also includes GPS functionalities so that users can generate reports about their runs and share these with friends to help motivate them more and reach their fitness goals faster.
Smart watches are a very broad category. Some products are designed with fitness in mind, while others are designed with a focus on essential health matters. For example, several smart watches, including the Omron HeartGuide watch, can monitor the wearer’s blood pressure throughout the night — a very useful function for people who struggle with hypertension.
Others still combine a range of functionalities, including email access and the ability to download a variety of apps, just as you do with a smartphone. The Apple Watch Series 6 is at the top of our wish list.
From a general health perspective, being able to manage your heart rate, fitness goals, and blood pressure from a wrist-worn device is excellent news indeed.
2. Bluetooth heart-rate monitors
While a smart watch with an integrated monitor is an all-in-one solution, these devices do represent a significant spend. Thankfully, there are other options for fitness fanatics on a budget. Heart-rate monitors are particularly useful for people who want to improve their cardiac health and shift excess pounds.
Let’s suppose you’ve been tracking your keto macros, working out regularly, and the weight still won’t come off. It could be because you’re not working out in accordance with your heart rate. Fitness experts define several heart-rate categories, including low-intensity, temperate, and aerobic. Working out and staying within predefined target zones can make all the difference.
Bluetooth heart-rate monitors are physical devices that users strap to their bodies while working out. These connect with various fitness apps via Bluetooth and allow users to track their heart rate from their device and stay within a specific target zone.
The Polar H9 is an excellent choice in this category.
3. Meditation trainers
One of the downsides of today’s technological output is the increased ‘noise.’ Many people feel like they are constantly “on,” with notifications beeping and messages and emails arriving at all times, it can be hard to switch off from both work and friends and take some much-needed me-time. In fact, experts note that greater connectivity can be linked to burnout and stress.
No surprises here, but technology has come up with a solution to this dilemma too. Smart meditation trainers, such as our personal favorite, the Core Meditation Trainer, are small devices that can be placed discretely around the home or held in your hand.
These tools track your ECG output and guide you through meditative breathing exercises. Meditation might be great for us, but if you’re like most people, it can be a chore and bore to get right. Trainers like the Core make it much easier to get in the zone and reap the benefits of mindfulness. Its gentle vibrations help guide users through the process without being too intrusive.
4. Smart scales
As health and fitness theory has evolved, so too has our understanding of basic concepts. For example, traditional knowledge highlights the importance of one’s body mass index (BMI), but muscle weighs more than fat, and BMI fails to take into account other critical factors.
Suffice it to say, jumping on a regular scale and using weight as the sole way to measure one’s health in this regard is flawed. That’s not to say that weighing yourself is inherently bad, just that there are better ways to do it nowadays. Smart scales offer a different approach and can measure much more than just your weight.
Gadgets such as the Wyze scale can also measure your body composition, how much of your weight is the muscle, and your body-fat percentage, a much better indication of overall health than BMI.
These smart scales link to apps from which you can enter factors such as your age, gender, and height to receive truly personalized health statistics. Some smart scales’ apps also come with an in-built pedometer, so your daily exercise is tracked too.
5. Wearable sleep trackers
There’s no doubt that the quality of your sleep can affect your overall health. Better sleep has been linked to decreased stress levels, greater productivity, and overall better moods. But there are different types of sleep, and some are more valuable than others.
In addition, each individual may sleep better at certain times than others. If, for example, you tend to be in REM sleep at 5 am, you probably don’t want to set your alarm for that time, but for fifteen or so minutes before or after.
Figuring these times out and your own unique sleep cycles is nigh on impossible without outside assistance. Wearable sleep trackers, such as the unobtrusive Oura Ring, can help you figure out your own patterns and, ultimately, get better sleep.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, sleep trackers measure inactivity, and as such, provide a decent estimate of how well you’re sleeping and your sleeping phases, including that all-important REM.
The future of health and IoT
As modern technology continues to evolve, so too will the tools we use to keep ourselves fit and in good health. IoT is becoming increasingly important in many sectors, and its use in healthcare and at-home health will continue to grow.
Whether it’s smart glucose monitors or interconnected in-body devices, it’s safe to say that we will have more ways to measure, quantify, and track our health than ever before. Watch this space; we certainly are!
If you’re ready to join the health and wellness tech revolution, get the ball rolling with our top 5 smart tools:
- Smart watches,
- Bluetooth enables heart-rate monitors,
- Meditation trainers,
- Smart scales,
- Wearable sleep trackers.
Which of these smart health gadgets are you most interested in, and which tool will you purchase first? Drop us a comment below and let us know your thoughts.
Looking for more advice on health and fitness tips and tricks? Take a look at our round-up of 14 effective tips here.