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    October 23, 2017

    Embrace technology to improve your health

    We live in a digital world, where answers to questions can be found in mere seconds, drivers arrive at your door to transport you in minutes, and you can reach your friends anywhere in the world with the tap of a button. So why don’t we embrace technology to improve our health?

    As we’re swamped with technology, we often advocate that people should spend less time staring at their phones, laptops or watches, and get outdoors more to improve their health.

    Yes technology has its cons; spending hours trawling through Buzzfeed isn’t going to help you get active, and binge-watching series isn’t going to help you rest your brain or eyes. But technology can also give us the agency to improve our fitness, improve our diets, sleep better, and perhaps increase the rewards offered by your Medical Aid. The trick is to identify the right technology for your needs, and use it to your advantage. In collaboration with Hippo.co.za we’ve had a look at common health issues, and products currently on the market that will help you embrace technology and tackle these problems.

    Sleep

    Lack of sleep or poor sleep can lead to a number of health related issues in the form of fatigue, increased stress levels, and a weak immune system. Your body needs a good seven hours of sleep a night to repair damaged tissue, build new bone, strengthen your immune system, and keep you alert and awake during the day. Getting the seven hours a night can be a tough task if you’re particularly stressed or are working late hours, which is where technology can play a part.

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    SleepBot is a free android and iOS app that tracks your sleeping patterns so that you can learn how much sleep you are getting. The data collected from the app can then be viewed online, and used to adjust your sleeping times and hours in order to get a better night’s rest. The app lets users check in when they go to sleep and check out when they wake up, and automatically turns off any potential disruptions by turning off your WiFi, notifications and sound in general. The app also has an alarm clock function that wakes you up during your lightest sleep cycle to make it easier for you to get up.

    Fitness

    According to the Department of Health, almost 70% of women and 40% of men in South Africa are overweight or obese. But obesity isn’t only a South African problem; it’s a global problem that can lead to a number of health related issues – from diabetes, to increased risk of stroke and heart diseases. Getting fit through cardiovascular activity is one of the easiest ways to increase your overall health and reduce your chances of heart related diseases. This being said, it can be a difficult thing to commit to when you work long hours and have a busy family schedule.

    Luckily, wearable technology makes getting fit a fun challenge, and helps you track your progress to keep you motivated. The Samsung Gear Fit 2 offers you a device that can be synced to both Android and iOS devices, has a 1.5 inch screen to see all your statistics clearly, and a battery life of three days. Not only is its design user-friendly and its battery long-lasting; it also offers a host of features to keep you on track with your fitness regime. It has a media player to play your favourite workout tracks, a heart rate monitor that uses infrared light blasters and green LED lights to track your blood flow rate, 512MB RAM and 4GB of storage, and sends notifications to the wearer when it detects they’ve been inactive for a certain period of time. Last but not least, if you download Samsung Gear and S Health, the watch will automatically send your fitness statistics to your phone without you having to look them up online.

    Diet 

    As life gets busier and busier, it can get increasingly difficult to eat healthily. While we sit at our desks or run from meeting to meeting, we don’t keep track of what we’re putting into our bodies. This can lead to weight gain, a weak immune system, fatigue, and unhealthy hair and skin. According to the Mail & Guardian, 80% of South African adults bought fast food at least once a month in 2015 and this was only expected to rise.

    MyFitnessPal is a free health website and app for Android and iOS devices that assists you with weight loss and healthy dietary recommendations. From your basic information of age, sex and weight, the app gives you a recommended number of calories per day you should have based on whether you want to lose, maintain or even gain weight. You record everything you eat and drink on the app, helping you identify what and how much is going into your body on a daily basis. The app then helps you to identify healthier foods through its extensive database, and encourages you to get fit by showing you how many more calories you can consume in one day after exercising. Bonus features allow you to connect the app to your fitness tracker, and send you push notifications to remind you to record meals or exercises, making it even easier to track your progress.

    Your health is your most important asset, and maintaining it is becoming easier today with the help of wearable technology and apps dedicated to getting people closer to a healthy lifestyle. There are thousands of apps and fitness trackers out there; choosing which ones to use can be as important for your health management as knowing The Difference Between Medical Aid and a Hospital Plan. While the above apps are some of the best out there, don’t be afraid to try a few different technologies to find the one that suits you best.

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