Predictions for 2016: Wearables and Wellness Go Together

The goal of technology is to make life easier, more efficient. As humans, we always search for ways to be healthier and happier. The current trends in the wearables market are poised to make fitness and health a more trackable and “rewarded behavior.” Companies are creating programs to help you get and stay healthy.

In this Computerworld article, Wearables and company wellness programs go hand-in-hand, Matt Hamblen profiles how Iron Mountain has approximately 25 percent of its employees tracking their own steps. “About 1,600 of the company's 8,000 U.S. employees use different types of consumer-grade wearable devices, such as Fitbit or Apple Watch, to measure how many steps they take and to generate other fitness metrics,” Hamblen says.

As we collect and track these “steps,” we are part of another trend known as “big data” and the ability for us to collect and analyze almost anything. Fitness data is a prime example of how lots of information is generated from various devices and gear. Here are a few ways that wearables are changing the way we behave and face fitness activities, which employers are now finding ways to motivate us to “work out:”

  • Companies (mainly in the US due to the incentives to reduce insurance costs, absenteeism with their employees) are promoting physical activity and offering programs and wearables that help on the goal of having their employees fit;
  • “One-half to two-thirds of U.S. employers with 15 or more workers have instituted some type of wellness program,” according to recent statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC). That translates into 586,000 companies.”  — Matt Hamblen in Computerworld
  • Individually-adapted health behavior change physical activity programs have demonstrated success and can be offered in the workplace (35% increase in the amount of time individuals spend in physical activity).

Increasingly, smarter wearables generate new and meaningful data that can help people find time and motivation to practice a sport or physical activity even with the demands of work. Each person has different needs and technology must be a fit for them individually, helping them to exercise during the most convenient time but offering them also good guidance to do it often alone and without a trainer. Smart wearables go beyond “big data” focusing on “relevant data” to provide valuable insights and guidance to users.  

The goal of most wellness programs is consistency and making exercise easier to complete. The best programs are flexible and change with the employee’s life situation or experience. Often, employees don’t make time to go to a gym, but they can walk or run. Most employees are not going to start out with a coach or trainer, but smart wearables can serve that training role by offering better ways to do a specific exercise and this often helps reduce injuries.

Over time, fitness data provides very useful information to create a personalized exercise plan. Corporate wellness programs using this data are able to help more employees keep the individual and group fitness success going by getting fitness professionals involved.

For many years, in corporate America, there has been an effort to create products for individuals. This effort is called mass customization. Smart wearables offer a kind of mass customization of physical activity by using better personal data, analyzed in the cloud by powerful tools, to align an individual’s exercise with corporate wellness goals. Whether a device is measuring only how many steps you take, or motivating you about which exercises to do at each moment, smart wearables and wellness programs are looking at your physical activity to help you get healthy.

About the Author

Paulo Ferreira dos Santos is CEO of Kinematix, which develops wearables to explore body movement.

Learn more about how wearables are making a big splash in the enterprise. Download the free special report.