How Can Your Smart Watch Help Manage Your Health?

Technology is advancing rapidly these days, and it is perhaps most apparent in the field of health care. One of the most stunning and beneficial tech products that could help make the world a much healthier place is the smart watch.

These devices work in tandem with smart phones to monitor various health metrics and alert you or your health care team if something falls outside of a healthy range. They can also provide valuable tools to encourage you to exercise regularly, eat better and sleep more.

What Is a Smart Watch?

If you are like most people, you may have heard of various kinds of smart watches like the Apple Watch, but you may not know what they do or why you would really want one. After all, if they work with smart phones, then they sound like flashy but pointless accessories.

In some ways that may be true—not many people want to answer email on a wrist-sized screen—but there are some benefits that smart watches uniquely provide. A prime example is that these devices are in direct contact with your body, so they are ideal for tracking heart rate, blood pressure and amount of movement.

Furthermore, smart watches are always on, so you get a comprehensive, 24/7 view of your health. You and your doctor can finally see how your body is performing throughout the day and the night. You can gain insights into your bodily performance that just wouldn’t be possible without an almost insane amount of medical monitoring.

Health Benefits from Using a Smart Watch

Depending on the type of smart watch you purchase and the health applications that you are using, you can derive many health benefits. Among the most common functionalities available to smart watch users are

  • Pedometer—you can easily monitor how many steps you take every day using a common pedometer feature. These apps have varying degrees of accuracy, but they can provide at least a rough estimate of how active you are.
  • Sleep monitor—if you wear your smart watch at night, it might be able to track your sleep patterns including how long you sleep and how often you get up. It won’t provide nuanced details of your sleep quality, but it can help ensure that you get the full amount you need to function.
  • Exercise regularly—if you are so busy that you forget to make time to hit the gym, then a smart watch may be perfect. You can set up a reminder notice that alerts you to exercise, and because it is on your watch rather than your phone, it is more difficult to ignore.
  • Oxygen saturation—a new feature among more recent smart watches is the ability to measure oxygen levels in the blood. These may be essential for people suffering COPD, asthma, or sleep apnea, but it could prove extremely important for people who fear they might have COVID-19 which can impair lung function.
  • Workout intensity—most smart watches have workout modes that help you keep track of how you are performing during a workout. They may have a specialized tracking app for the kind of exercise that you are doing, but if not, there are probably a suite of apps for calories burnt, heart rate, duration, and recovery time.
  • Heart monitor—now smart watches can monitor heart function and detect warning signs like irregular rhythm. This is then transmitted to the smart phone to alert the user or the physician.
  • Fall detection—some smart watches now come with the ability to detect a hard fall. If such an incident is detected, the smart watch allows you to make an emergency call. Obviously, this may be a lifesaving feature for anyone in a serious accident.
  • EHR storage—it is now possible to keep your electronic health records on your smart watch. This portability means that any health care provider you encounter can now know the specifics of any important health conditions. This can help minimize the risk of medication cross-reactions, allergic reactions, and treatment redundancies.

The Best Smart Watches for Your Health

It can be difficult to identify the best smart watch for you in such a crowded market. While some of this analysis is subjective and the best smart watch for you will depend on your particular health condition, there are some smart watches that stand out from the rest of the field.

  • Samsung Galaxy Watch 3—Samsung has one of the largest selections of smart watches, but the Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 stands out even among this crowded field. This superb smart watch offers a wide array of functions including ECG, oxygen saturation, heart rate, sleep monitoring, blood pressure and calorimeter. It can currently be purchased on Amazon for $368.
  • Apple Watch Series 6—Apple is almost synonymous with high-end smart watches so it shouldn’t be surprising that their latest version is an industry leader. The Apple Watch Series 6 can detect heart rate irregularities like atrial fibrillation as well as detect hard falls and provide emergency SOS calls. Unlike the Samsung smart watches however, Apple watches must operate in conjunction with a smart phone.
  • Fitbit Sense—one of the leading names in health wearables, Fitbit has many advanced smart watches including the Sense. The Fitbit Sense can monitor skin temperature and blood oxygen levels, although it lacks a blood pressure monitor and fall detector.  This smart watch also has an ECG app that can alert you if there is a heart irregularity. It currently sells for about $300 on Amazon.

Before you spend your money on a smart watch, you may want to discuss the issue with your doctor who may have advice about which one is most appropriate for your health conditions. You should also keep in mind that a smart watch is not a substitute for health care from an experienced medical professional. A smart watch should be considered only a component of your health care management program.

Article written by: Dr. Robert Moghim – CEO/Founder Colorado Pain Care

M.D. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.  The information contained in this article does not constitute medical advice, nor does reading or accessing this information create a patient-provider relationship.  Comments that you post will be shared with all visitors to this page. The comment feature is not governed by HIPAA, and you should not post any of your private health information.