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Watch your Step – Smart Watches and other Wearables for Health & Fitness

Corporate Wellness Magazine

A woman with wearable device using a medicine ball

I had a dream last night that my wife gave me a wristwatch for my birthday. It’s a combination, phone, television, music library, day planner, remote control for all my appliances and lights, a camera, calculator, personal shopper, dictionary, game console, weather forecaster, fitness trainer, and Swiss Army Knife.

Oh, and it also tells time.

While we are not quite at the point where the techno-wizards can give us such a marvelous device, (yet) the “Wearables” industry is growing rapidly, particularly with respect to health, fitness and nutrition. More and more health conscious people are turning to these devices to assist them with physical conditioning, weight-loss, heart monitoring and other wellness concerns, and corporations across the country (BP, UnitedHealth Group Inc., Humana Inc., Cigna Corp. and Highmark Inc) are turning to this technology as part of their corporate wellness initiatives.

These amazing devices, which come in the form of wristbands, watches, clip-ons, and so forth; can monitor your sleep, take various measurements upon awakening, keep track of how much you walk, run, or exercise each day. They will even remind you to take your medicine.

While many manufacturers are offering such devices, with more coming out every day, the entire tech community is salivating over the release of Apple’s entry into the Wearables market—a subject about which there has been much speculation and more rumors than your typical issue of the National Enquirer.

Generally referred to in the press as the “i-Watch,” it is believed to rely on Apple’s still to be unveiled iOS 8 operating system, and the buzz on its capabilities are much like the first paragraph of this article (with perhaps a reusable space vehicle thrown in).

In the meantime, here are some of our favorite Wearables available now for health and wellness.

UP® from Jawbone, tracks your activity, diet and sleep and shows you how to make simple adjustments through enhanced calorie monitoring, water logging, and special features that include, “Healthy Food Score” and “Popular Restaurant Menus.”

FLEX™ WIRELESS ACTIVITY AND SLEEP WRISTBAND is a slim, stylish device which    tracks steps, distance, and calories burned during the day, and your sleep quality at night–then wakes you silently in the morning.  This product seamlessly integrates fitness into your daily life by wirelessly and automatically syncing to your smartphone and computer. Easy-to-use online tools and mobile apps keep you on top of health and fitness trends.

THE MISFIT SHINE is a specialized item—a waterproof activity tracker that’s big on style and great for those who swim for exercise. From Misfit.com

 Nike+ FuelBand SE is asporty, sturdy and comfortable design that displays time, steps, calories burned, and “fuel,” and wirelessly syncs over Bluetooth to your laptop or phone. It also lets you isolate and name special activities. For iOS and Android.

Samsung Gear Fit is part smart watch, part fitness tracker that supports bicycling and other activities. It is quite attractive–touch-screen enabled—but requires a supported Samsung device.

HealthWatch, an Israeli company, debuted its Tee-shirt monitor as part of its hWear line of 15-lead ECG-sensing garments at the recent annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association. It allows doctors and medical workers to keep track of a heart condition remotely, without having to hook the patient up to a heart-measuring device in a doctor’s office.

So far as the Apple i-Watch and when it will be available—it anybody’s guess, and I do mean guess.  As of today, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, industry experts, and techies from here to Asia think it could happen as early as next week, or as late as next year.  Whenever it is, be assured it will be a dream come true.

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