According to an article from scientificamerican.com by Karen Weintraub, there is a brand new fitness tracker out there that not only tracks your health goals — it may warn you of serious illness!
Michael Snyder, a geneticist, spent many years of his life studying his own genetics. What did he find? Well, he found that he had a high risk of being diagnosed with diabetes someday down the road. He was already accustomed to wearing fitness trackers because he was a runner, but since he was a scientist, he decided to do a little experiment — he wore eight fitness trackers (every day for two years) to calculate their differences!
Fitness Trackers Prove to be Beneficial
Michael and his research team realized that these fitness trackers don’t only help you with reaching your fitness goals — they can also give you insight to even MORE health information. By tracking your circadian rhythms, changes to your environments (like being on an airplane…the altitude can affect you), and even more, these fitness trackers can use the information to reveal deeper health concerns and when you may become sick.
“Too much of the time, we spend time measuring people when they’re sick,” says Michael. “What we really want to understand is — what does it mean to define a healthy state, then quickly identify deviations from that state [when someone is falling ill]? I think the wearables are going to be a big part of that.”
Makes sense, right? We should monitor people when they’re healthy, rather than waiting until it’s too late.
How does this fitness tracker work? Michael and his researchers created a “computational algorithm” (that reads the data from the fitness tracker) and translates it into relevant information for your health. For example, by tracking your insulin sensitivity and how it differs over time, it can help to diagnose Type 2 Diabetes.
The research team collected TONS of information from volunteers (some wore “as many as seven of the devices daily for as long as 11 months.”) They gathered certain data, such as oxygen levels in the blood, weight, heart rate, temperature, fitness activity, and much more.
Michael thinks that these fitness trackers should become a commonality for people to have a better understanding of their health; even aging. Michael says, “We will see personal markers of aging as we follow people very closely. Understanding your baseline while you’re healthy is really, really important.”