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The Age of Fitness Trackers

The Age of Fitness Trackers | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Fitbit… AppleWatch… Jawbone — Oh my! The age of personal fitness trackers is upon us and judging by its rapid growth, it is here to stay. Worldwide, healthcare is experiencing a massive shift in the way patients and physicians are interacting with medical records and information. Technology and Federal Regulations are among the many driving forces serving to reshape the medical industry; growing technological innovations such as Cloud technology and fitness trackers are inspiring a new era characterized by interactive, patient-centered care. With home health technologies projected to skyrocket — jumping from 14.3 million worldwide in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020 — the ability for patients to access images, information, and updates is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As fitness trackers, Cloud technology, and other innovations continue to improve upon the immediacy and ease with which patients can access personal medical records, physicians and consumers alike are being prescribed an entirely new patient care experience.


Fitness trackers such as Fitbit’s “Charge HR”, Apple’s “Sport Watch”, and Jawbone’s “UP2” have made an enormous dent within an ever-expanding wearable technologies market. The Fitness tracker craze has transcended various demographics including age as both Millenials and older generations are exhibiting support for the use of wearable technologies within the fitness world and in other markets.


Regarding fitness trackers specifically, consumers cite improved safety, healthier living, and ease of use when discussing the benefits of wearing such products. With features such as heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and exercise progress reports, fitness trackers are redefining the ways in which consumers interact with and view personal health records. Currently, about 1 in 5 adults owns a wearable device. This number is expected to grow as healthcare and technology continue to fuse in an effort to bring patients’ needs to the forefront of EMR accessibility regulation.


Many are projecting healthy growth for the future of fitness tracking wearable device technology markets. As stated in the PWC article entitled, “Wearable Technology Future is Ripe”, “As wearable devices gain traction over the next five to ten years, they can help consumers better manage their health and their healthcare costs.” The article continues to point out that, “ wearables’ potential in the $2.8 trillion US healthcare system will only be realized if companies engage consumers, turn data into insights and focus on improving consumer health.” As Meaningful Use and other Federal Government regulations continue to guide healthcare systems toward more efficient, patient-centered processes it seems likely that the growing fitness tracker market will undoubtedly impact the future state of healthcare in the US and beyond.


Is your practice in shape for a health tech driven future?

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Nicole Avarello's curator insight, July 16, 2015 1:35 PM

Do you track your fitness? I have been considering about investing in a FitBit for quite some time now. The benefits seem nice and I am hoping it will motivate me to be more active and conscious of my decisions.

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Fit Nation: Sweet dreams for better health, weight loss

Fit Nation: Sweet dreams for better health, weight loss | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

"You can sleep when you're dead," I've told myself while answering work email in the middle of the night.

To combat the previous night's loss of sleep, I'd go to bed at 8 p.m. the next night, only to find myself wide awake at 1 a.m.

The ping-pong of sleeplessness leaves me disoriented and cranky.

I wore my crazy work hours like a badge.

"I worked 60 hours last week," I'd say tiredly, but with a secret glee that this must mean that I was the best at what I was doing.

My disregard for a healthy work/life balance showed my dedication and loyalty to work.

This imbalance fed others in my life: How could I possibly go to the gym? I have work to do. I don't know how to fall asleep naturally. I'll have a drink or two before bed to "help" me fall asleep. Since I didn't shop for groceries on Sunday because I slept all day, on Tuesday, I had to order takeout.

A year and a half ago, I returned from my second long-term assignment in India and felt pretty burnt out.

With the help of my boss, I found a new role within my company. This was a role that allowed me to develop a healthy balance between doing good work and living a good life.

So I started leaving work at 5 p.m. I worked from home on some days. I filled my free time with dozens of new hobbies.

But I still wasn't getting regular and consistent sleep.

I'd seen the news reports that said insomnia can hinder weight loss. But I still held on to those late nights, which were now filled with knitting and "Law & Order" reruns instead of work.

"How could I do it all if one-third of my day was spent sleeping?" I wondered.

Fast forward to our Fit Nation kickoff weekend.

Paul Kriegler, corporate dietitian for Lifetime Fitness, led a nutrition workshop for our Fit Nation team.

When the discussion of sleep came up, I listened even more intently as he explained the havoc that sleeplessness can wreak on our bodies, our blood sugars and our metabolism.

I left that weekend determined to tackle my insomnia head on.

I decided on three simple behaviors that I could change immediately:

1. Do not drink alcohol at home

I used this as a crutch to get to sleep for many years. But while that drink might knock you out, you're not getting restful REM sleep and a few short hours later, you're right back where you started: awake!

2. Set a consistent bedtime

I decided to go to bed at 10:30 every night, including the weekends. The first few days were weird, but by the third night, my body was used to winding itself down around 9 p.m.

3. No screens an hour before bedtime and no cell phone in the bedroom

I spend most of my days planted in front of a computer. If I'm not working, I'm surfing the Internet or watching a movie online.

My eyes and brain are constantly stimulated.

Unplugging an hour before bed allows me to have a conversation with my boyfriend without distractions. I read a few chapters in a good book or I knit a few more rows on my latest sock project.

It's been nice having this time for reflection and to quiet my mind right before bed.

Banishing the phone from the bedroom means if I roll over in the middle of the night, I simply wait for myself to fall back asleep instead of reaching for the phone and scrolling through Instagram.

I'm at the end of the third week and I have to tell you, I'm now sleeping through the night!

I feel energized and excited to start the day.

I've got energy for workouts and cooking.

I feel great. And I look forward to bedtime each night.

Sweet dreams at last.


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Samsung and Fitbit currently leading wearables markets

Samsung and Fitbit currently leading wearables markets | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With the Apple Watch launch, and its potential to upend the wearables market, a few months away, Canalys reports that the current market leader for “smart wearable bands” — any wristworn device that can run third-party applications — is Samsung. Meanwhile, the “basic wearable band” market, which Canalys defines as wearables that can’t run apps, is still led by Fitbit.

The up-and-comer in the non-smartwatch wearable market is Xiaomi, whose focus on the Chinese market and low price point have catapulted it into the spotlight. It has shipped more than a million Mi Bands, 103,000 of those on the first day. 

“Though the Mi Band is a lower-margin product than competing devices, Xiaomi entered the wearables market with a unique strategy, and its shipment volumes show how quickly a company can become a major force in a segment based solely on the size of the Chinese market,” analyst Jason Low said in a statement.

Canalys didn’t share the total shipment numbers for basic bands, but said 4.6 million smart bands shipped in 2014, only 720,000 of which were Android Wear. Of those, Motorola led the market with its Moto 360.  Samsung led the smart band segment overall, owing to the wide range of devices the company has available.

“‘Samsung has launched six devices in just 14 months, on different platforms and still leads the smart band market,” VP and principal analyst Chris Jones said in a statement. “But it has struggled to keep consumers engaged and must work hard to attract developers while it focuses on [operating system] Tizen for its wearables.”

Canalys predicts Apple’s entry into the market will blow up the category, and says the device’s battery life will be the main advantage over Android Wear to begin with.

“Apple made the right decisions with its WatchKit software development kit to maximize battery life for the platform, and the Apple Watch will offer leading energy efficiency,” analyst Daniel Matte said in a statement. “Android Wear will need to improve significantly in the future, and we believe it will do so.”


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Cheryl Palmer's curator insight, February 19, 2015 7:06 PM

WEARABLES - Market report summary on the current (Feb 2015) state of the wearables market with link to data source.  Useful to get insight into where major players are focusing their development dollars.

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How Exercise Changes Our DNA

How Exercise Changes Our DNA | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

We all know that exercise can make us fitter and reduce our risk for illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. But just how, from start to finish, a run or a bike ride might translate into a healthier life has remained baffling.

Now new research reports that the answer may lie, in part, in our DNA. Exercise, a new study finds, changes the shape and functioning of our genes, an important stop on the way to improved health and fitness.

The human genome is astonishingly complex and dynamic, with genes constantly turning on or off, depending on what biochemical signals they receive from the body. When genes are turned on, they express proteins that prompt physiological responses elsewhere in the body.

Scientists know that certain genes become active or quieter as a result of exercise. But they hadn’t understood how those genes know how to respond to exercise.

Enter epigenetics, a process by which the operation of genes is changed, but not the DNA itself. Epigenetic changes occur on the outside of the gene, mainly through a process called methylation. In methylation, clusters of atoms, called methyl groups, attach to the outside of a gene like microscopic mollusks and make the gene more or less able to receive and respond to biochemical signals from the body.

Scientists know that methylation patterns change in response to lifestyle. Eating certain diets or being exposed to pollutants, for instance, can change methylation patterns on some of the genes in our DNA and affect what proteins those genes express. Depending on which genes are involved, it may also affect our health and risk for disease.

Far less has been known about exercise and methylation. A few small studies have found that a single bout of exercise leads to immediate changes in the methylation patterns of certain genes in muscle cells. But whether longer-term, regular physical training affects methylation, or how it does, has been unclear.

So for a study published this month in Epigenetics, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recruited 23 young and healthy men and women, brought them to the lab for a series of physical performance and medical tests, including a muscle biopsy, and then asked them to exercise half of their lower bodies for three months.

One of the obstacles in the past to precisely studying epigenetic changes has been that so many aspects of our lives affect our methylation patterns, making it difficult to isolate the effects of exercise from those of diet or other behaviors.

The Karolinska scientists overturned that obstacle by the simple expedient of having their volunteers bicycle using only one leg, leaving the other unexercised. In effect, each person became his or her own control group. Both legs would undergo methylation patterns influenced by his or her entire life; but only the pedaling leg would show changes related to exercise.

The volunteers pedaled one-legged at a moderate pace for 45 minutes, four times per week for three months. Then the scientists repeated the muscle biopsies and other tests with each volunteer.

Not surprisingly, the volunteers’ exercised leg was more powerful now than the other, showing that the exercise had resulted in physical improvements.

But the changes within the muscle cells’ DNA were more intriguing. Using sophisticated genomic analysis, the researchers determined that more than 5,000 sites on the genome of muscle cells from the exercised leg now featured new methylation patterns. Some showed more methyl groups; some fewer. But the changes were significant and not found in the unexercised leg.

Interestingly, many of the methylation changes were on portions of the genome known as enhancers that can amplify the expression of proteins by genes. And gene expression was noticeably increased or changed in thousands of the muscle-cell genes that the researchers studied.

Most of the genes in question are known to play a role in energy metabolism, insulin response and inflammation within muscles. In other words, they affect how healthy and fit our muscles — and bodies — become.

They were not changed in the unexercised leg.

The upshot is that scientists now better understand one more step in the complicated, multifaceted processes that make exercise so good for us.

Many mysteries still remain, though, said Malene Lindholm, a graduate student at the Karolinska Institute, who led the study. It’s unknown, for example, whether the genetic changes she and her colleagues observed would linger if someone quits exercising and how different amounts or different types of exercise might affect methylation patterns and gene expression. She and her colleagues hope to examine those questions in future studies.

But the message of this study is unambiguous. “Through endurance training — a lifestyle change that is easily available for most people and doesn’t cost much money,” Ms. Lindholm said, “we can induce changes that affect how we use our genes and, through that, get healthier and more functional muscles that ultimately improve our quality of life.”



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