Wearable technology is defining a new generation of fitness

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The American College of Sports Medicine predicted that wearable technology would be the number one fitness trend in a worldwide survey of 2016 fitness trends.

A report by marketsandmarkets said that the wearable fitness technology market is expected to reach USD 12.44 billion by 2022. According to the study, “There is an increasing demand for wearable fitness technology products such as wristbands and smartwatches because of consumer preference for smart gadgets, increasing popularity of wearable fitness and medical devices, increasing awareness about fitness, and a rise in disposable incomes in developing economies.”

According to a slideshare presentation by company AppStudioz, wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. A few examples of these would be the fitness and activity trackers from companies like Garmin, Jawbone and Fitbit.

A search on Instagram as of Saturday, April 30 revealed 1,000,377 posts with hashtags of the word ‘garmin’ and 1,092,631 posts as of Saturday April 30, 2016 with the hashtag of ‘fitbit’, making it a notable trend on social media.

Casey Quintana, from Kailua, Hawaii, syncs data from her Garmin Forerunner 220 to her social media network on April 30, 2016. Photo by Amber Porter/released
Casey Quintana, from Kailua, Hawaii, syncs data from her Garmin Forerunner 220 to her social media network on April 30, 2016. Photo by Amber Porter/released

With growth as a prediction, what might be hindering the population from sporting trackers? In a slideshare presentation by strategic design and management graduate Anne Chen on the future of wearable fitness, the pricing of fitness trackers was cited as a common deterrent to purchasing a fitness tracker, as well as seamless integration with the user’s lives.

If a product is in demand, it will still sell, says Dan Ewert, economics teacher at Rockwall-Heath High School in Texas. According to a Fitbit press release, the demand is there. More than one million units of Fitbit Alta, priced at $130 U.S., shipped in the first three weeks of retail availability after they were released in March. David Pogue, founder of Yahoo Tech, endorsed the product in a recent Tumblr review, saying “By putting all of that in a sleeker, slimmer, less intrusive package, Fitbit is betting that you’re more likely to keep wearing the Alta once you’ve tried it. This means more motivation and feedback, which means a healthier life.”

But what are the actual health benefits of wearable technology for fitness? According to a study by the Society for Participatory Medicine, 46% of their patients who track activity have said that the use of technology has changed their overall approach to maintaining their health. The Society for Participatory Medicine would like to encourage clinicians and patients to work together to create an involved and informative healthcare plan.

“Participatory Medicine is an ethical approach to care that also holds promise to improve outcomes, reduce medical errors, increase patient satisfaction and improve the cost of care,” said the company in their outreach statement.

“I love my Garmin,” said Casey Quintana, who uses a Garmin Forerunner 220. “I like to compete and running can be a lonely sport. When you upload your data to your Facebook, you just get more satisfaction.”

Casey Quintana, from Kailua, Hawaii, runs with her Garmin Forerunner 220 to track her pace and miles on April 30, 2016. Photo by Amber Porter/Released
Casey Quintana, from Kailua, Hawaii, runs with her Garmin Forerunner 220 to track her pace and miles on April 30, 2016. Photo by Amber Porter/Released

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