According to a recent survey conducted by GfK (Growth for Knowledge), about one-third of the world population tracks their health data (29% of American to be precise) using an app, phone, watch or online mobile service[note]http://www.gfk.com/insights/press-release/a-third-of-people-track-their-health-or-fitness-who-are-they-and-why-are-they-doing-it/[/note].
Are you tracking yours? If not, you’re missing out on an incredibly powerful tool to create the health you’ve always wanted.
But there’s a catch…data will only get you so far, it’s how much you understand about that data and what you do with that data that counts.
According to new reports, health data tracking alone may not be enough to help you reach your goals. Which is why, at kNew Health, we’ve combined the power health data tracking (information) with Health Coaching (action) to bring our members stellar health outcomes.
In today’s article, we’ll look at the top 8 reasons to track your health data, and how kNew Health can help you put that data to good use.
#8: Better nutrition
Of all the people in the GfK health tracking survey, the vast majority use health tracking devices to eat better and lose weight.
While the research on whether health tracking alone will result in easier weight loss is mixed, health tracking combined with health coaching has been shown to help people create better nutritional habits.
The American Journal of Health Promotion study entitled: “Health Coaching to Improve Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors: An Integrative Review” states Health Coaches helped the subjects improve a variety of lifestyle habits, including nutrition and weight management [note]http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.4278/ajhp.090313-LIT-101[/note].
Plus, while the food apps and online food journals-of-old only offered only calorie-counting, new tracking apps can account for your unique dietary needs such as reducing sugar, increasing water, lowering fat, upping protein, getting more vegetables and much more.
#7: Improved physical fitness
Physical fitness is the other top reason people track their health data. But, again, research suggests fitness wearables alone may not be enough to improve your physical fitness in the long run.
Could it be because one-size does not fit all when it comes to exercise?
For example, those with adrenal fatigue or a thyroid issue are typically better off focusing on light to moderate exercise 2-5 times a week, whereas those with blood sugar issues may fair better with a high-intensity, interval-style workout 5 times a week.
Again, this is where accountability and guidance from a professional can make all the difference in your fitness success.
In fact, studies have shown working with a Health Coach can help improve physical fitness [note]http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.4278/ajhp.090313-LIT-101[/note].
#6: A healthier pregnancy
Having a baby? There’s a health-tracking app for that.
Moms love them because it makes it easier to keep on-track with their health and progress so they can better communicate with their doctors and midwives.
Whether you’re interested in monitoring your weight, keeping track of your nutrition, your mood or tracking your blood sugar, pregnancy health trackers have a wide range of abilities to promote a healthier pregnancy for mom and baby.
#5: Group support/community
At kNew Health we’re big on the power of community to create health.
In fact, community-based accountability groups are the original health-tracking app!
Think about it. If you dedicate yourself to a 5K run for charity, meditate with your spouse to reduce stress and improve your marriage or commit to a 10-day detox with your book club to improve your energy you will be far more likely to succeed within a group dynamic.
There are endless studies proving the beneficial effects of group-accountability on everything from weight-loss[note]https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/why-you-should-work-out-crowd-ncna798936[/note] to mental health[note]http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/11/power.aspx[/note].
This is why progressive integrative medicine practitioners utilize group visits and set up accountability groups within their practices or online: health tracking creates community and community makes health tracking more effective.
#4: Better sleep
Read any article about overcoming insomnia or visit a doctor, and one of the first things they will ask you to do is to track your sleep patterns including what time you go to bed, what time you wake up, which nights you can sleep, can’t sleep, what times you awaken, what time you wake up, what you eat or drink during the day, how much you exercise and when, etc.
Because pattern is crucial to understanding the root cause of your sleep issues.
For example, if you wake up at 4AM after going to bed at 8PM or 9PM and wish you could sleep later, the solution could be as simple as going bed later.
Or, if you’re a woman who has trouble sleeping 2-5 days before your menstrual cycle, that could indicate a hormonal component.
Or if you have trouble sleeping after you eat a carby meal, a food sensitivity like gluten or wheat could be to blame.
There is no need for a fancy app to track sleep (although they do exist), all you need is a notepad and a week or two to write down your eating, drinking, sleeping, movement and stress management habits which will reveal clues about the cause.
From there, a Health Coach or practitioner can help you analyze that data and craft a plan to help you get better sleep.
#3: Faster root-cause resolution of ailments
Like the aforementioned point on sleep, health tracking is essential to getting to the root cause of any puzzling ailment.
Integrative functional medicine practitioners and Health Coaches are wizards at using your health data to uncover the root cause of even the most bizarre health issues.
An “Elimination Diet” is a perfect example of how this works.
At kNew Health, if your Health Coach suspects food sensitivity issues may be contributing to your health concern, they may recommend a 30-day elimination diet of specific trigger-foods like: gluten, dairy, corn, sugar and/or soy.
Then after the 30 days, you begin re-introducing one previously eliminated food into your diet every 3-5 days, paying careful attention and tracking (via app or log) any symptoms that pop up to share with your Health Coach.
If your chronic congestion, indigestion or skin condition returns after eating dairy products, for example, then you know that food is counter-productive to healing.
While some people spend thousands of dollars on allergy testing and food sensitivity panels, often a simple tracking tool, like an elimination diet and a pad of paper, is all that’s needed to identify a root cause.
#2: Better communication w/your healthcare team
One of the controversies about health tracking is whether it’s actually useful to your doctor.
After all, she doesn’t have access to your SmartWatch or Fitness tracking account.
However, when you have the right apps and tracking systems in place, they can be immensely valuable in organizing accurate data to share with your healthcare provider.
Smart practitioners and Health Coaches know this, which is why they may recommend specific technologies to help track your progress, remind you to refill prescriptions or supplements and keep tabs on your nutrition, sleep, stress and/or exercise.
#1: You’ll save money
While better health and root cause resolution are reason enough to track your health data, it can also help save you money several ways:
- By getting to root causes of health issues without expensive diagnostics
- Some insurance providers offer members discounts for tracking their health data and meeting certain requirements (like a specific number of steps per day, etc.)
- Likewise, some employer-sponsored wellness programs reward employees for reaching health goals via use of health tracking devices [note]https://www.policygenius.com/blog/can-a-fitness-tracker-help-you-save-on-health-insurance/[/note]
- By helping you stress less and be more productive at work
- By keeping you engaged in and aware of your own self-health creation, which can alert you to early signs of a problem before it becomes chronic
If the early years of health data tracking have taught us anything it’s that information alone can’t always create better health outcomes. It’s what you do with that information that counts.
If you need help putting your health data into action, click here to apply for membership at kNew Health today.
For more information on our favorite health tracking apps, download your free copy of “The Top 10 Ways to Save on Healthcare in the Trump Era…and Beyond”.
To your health-tracking success,
-The kNew Health Team