5 Ways to Monitor Your Health With Your Smartwatch

A little over a decade ago, if you wanted to know your blood pressure, you had to book an appointment with the doctor or hit the blood pressure cuff at the local pharmacy for a few minutes. Now, 1 in 5 Americans can monitor their health with a simple device around their wrist – a smartwatch.

These devices can monitor your steps, track your heart rate, measure your pulse, and estimate your blood oxygen. Although they can’t take the place of regular visits to the doctor, they can help you monitor signs to determine if your sweaty palms are normal or if they mean something is amiss. Use your smartwatch to monitor your health in these ways.

Stop Sitting Around All Day

Logging multiple hours at a desk job can negatively impact your health. With sedentary jobs increasing by over 80 percent since the 1950s, many Americans are at increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other diseases associated with being inactive.

Most smartwatches will notify you if you’ve been sitting for more than an hour without moving. When you see this alert, you can take a quick break from the computer and walk around the office or your house if you’re working remotely.

Track Your Steps

Even if your watch isn’t telling you to stand up every hour, it is tracking your steps. When you look at your fitness data, you can see how many steps you’ve taken on average and make changes to improve. You might notice that you’re only taking about 2,000 steps a day during the work week.

By seeing these numbers, you can make little changes to your routine to better incorporate healthy habits. Instead of eating lunch at your desk or in the break room, you could go outside for a brisk walk or sign up for a fitness class after work and bring your gym gear to the office.

Monitor Your Sleep

Not sleeping well can make you moodier and foggier, unable to function at your highest level during the day. It also puts you at a higher risk of heart disease and other health issues. Using a smartwatch while you sleep can help you monitor your sleep habits.

These watches work by tracking your heart rate and body movements. Your heart rate changes depending on which stage of sleep you’re in. Your smartwatch can give you an idea of how long you spend in deep sleep versus light sleep.

Although smartwatches aren’t as accurate as a polysomnography test, they can help you see patterns and follow up with a sleep specialist if you think you might be experiencing sleep apnea or other disturbances.

Take Your Pulse

Your smartwatch normally monitors your pulse, which offers a wealth of insights into your health. A normal pulse varies based on your age, metabolism, and your activity level, so your resting pulse could be as low as 60 beats per minute or as high as 100.

Once you’ve had your watch for a week or two, you should be able to tell what normal means for your body. If you see your heart rate increase, you may be dehydrated or even sick. Smartwatch designers are working on models that better detect atrial fibrillation – an abnormal pulse that puts you at higher risk of heart attack or stroke. Current models can’t detect A-fib as accurately as professional EKG instruments. However, they can let you monitor your heart rate and get a better idea of when it might be off.

Track Your Blood Oxygen

Before COVID-19, many people never gave their blood oxygen a second thought. Low blood oxygen is one of the telltale symptoms of COVID-19. Other conditions that impact the lungs can cause low blood oxygen including asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and pneumonia.

Normal blood oxygen ranges from 95% – 100%, and it’s common for people at higher altitudes to be on the low end of this range. If your blood oxygen drops below 88%, you need medical attention. Since your smartwatch can monitor your blood oxygen, you can take a measurement if you’re finding it hard to breathe or if you’ve been having headaches, dizziness, and other symptoms.

Use Your Watch as a Guide

As advanced as they are, smartwatches are not as accurate as a doctor’s visit. Wearing your smartwatch regularly and looking at your health data can make you aware of changes that mean you need to go see a doctor. Take advantage of your smartwatch and let it guide you into healthier habits.