If you want to change something, measure it!
Want to get fit, sleep better, bring down your blood pressure, lose weight, meditate more often, remember take your medication on time or change anything else about your life? Forget will power! Well, will power is important, but you should use technology to help you achieve your goals, too!
We’re getting serious about measuring ourselves; everything from how active we are to how happy we are. Whether you think of it as personalized health, health as a game or a life-size science experiment, self-tracking is hitting the headlines. Enthusiasts refer to the ‘quantified self’. The first conference of that name saw 400 self-trackers meet up in Silicon Valley over the Memorial Day weekend to share tips on monitoring mood, meditation, migraines, mileage and other personal details of their lives.
There are lots of reasons for tracking yourself. Some people are just fascinated by the measurements. If you want to change something, you have to measure it or you won’t know what makes a difference – and just seeing the numbers can encourage you when you feel lazy and reward you when you’re doing well. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator doesn’t make you fitter overnight; seeing a higher score on your activity monitor gives you immediate feedback and can help encourage you to do it for long enough to see the rewards. Many people find the encouragement – or embarrassment – of sharing results with a support group keeps them on track. If you can see an absolute measurement that shows you slept badly, you can postpone an important meeting until the next day – and you can start to work out what makes you sleep badly or makes you stressed and do something about it. An informed consumer is a fit consumer, in this case.
A slew of always-on gadgets, mobile apps and Web services make tracking yourself easier than ever before; you don’t need a stopwatch, a calorie counter and a paper log book any more – and they’re not just aimed at professional athletes or the seriously ill. We road-tested the most interesting gadgets and tools for tracking sleep, weight, activity, blood pressure, stress and more to see which are worth wearing and which are just too geeky.