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Meeting step goals is great, but are you relying too much on wearables?
Posted on Jul 06, 2017 by Travis Jones
Fitness trackers and other wearable tech continues to rise in popularity in the UAE, and people are more focused than ever on getting their 10,000 daily steps in. Are we too focused on walking, though? Find out more here.
Wearable devices in the UAE
Despite the headlines in the UAE about expanding waistlines and lifestyle illnesses being in vogue, there are still those that have been swept up in the health craze that is becoming more and more common across the globe. People are giving up wallowing creature comforts and instituting personal sacrifices into their lives in order to promote their longevity and overall health. In order to accomplish this, many are using wearable technology to track their workouts, monitor their sleep habits, and more. One of the hallmarks of these devices is counting the steps that a person takes; 10,000 steps being a common goal. However, is merely meeting this type of ‘step goal’ going far enough in the quest for great health? UAE Medical Insurance discusses the topic more below.
As far as fitness trackers/wearables in the UAE are concerned, they have gained prominence in recent years. In 2016 the Gulf News reported that fitness trackers were leading the wearable tech market vis-à-vis smartwatches; accounting for 85% of total wearable fitness devices. It was stated that the reason for this is that people appreciate the simplicity of the devices that have no display and are simply worn on the body. The same article also reported that wearable sales grew in the UAE year-on-year for the third quarter by 3.1%. Even as the ‘coolness’ of these devices may have worn off, the functionality of them continues to drive popularity.
Focus on walking
So it’s the end of the day and you check your step counter on your wearable device’s phone app. What’s this? You’re still 300 steps away from meeting your daily goal of 10,000 steps!? Looks like it’s time to march around the living room until you reach your daily goal.
This is a scenario that is surely common among people who are using wearable devices to try to live healthier lifestyles. As long as we hit that daily goal, we can rest easy knowing that we aren’t being sedentary and we can avoid developing some of the chronic diseases that we know can stem from weight gain and lack of exercise. Right?
Well, it turns out that we may, in fact, be putting far too much emphasis on the magical 10,000 steps that everyone strives to achieve. Bariatric surgeon Julie Ellner, M.D. stated in an article online that, “While tracking steps may be a good way of initiating an awareness of one’s activity, with the idea of changing other behaviors and increasing other exercises that lead to better fitness, using number of steps as an indicator of fitness is self-deluding.”
Don’t walk into a rut
Those who have been putting effort into making good use of their wearables and ensuring that their daily goals are met likely may read the sentiment above and get annoyed. After all, they’ve made improvements to their health, how can they be faulted? To be sure, any effort to improve one’s health is to be commended, especially if it has led to changing habits enough that a person leads a healthier general lifestyle, and likely added years to their life. Just realize, though, that by making a few more simple changes, you can have much more impact on how your lifestyle can improve your health.
Look, walking is great, but for many it simply is not enough exercise to really be of great benefit to the body. This is because, while walking is movement, it is simply not intense exercise that really gets your blood pumping. For this reason, 10,000 steps could be substituted with an exercise regime of swimming, weightlifting or cycling. Or, if those aren’t your thing, turning your daily walk around the neighborhood into a run will have exponentially better effects on your fitness and health.
Also, exercise is far from the solution to a person’s health and fitness woes. Nutrition is just as important for healthy living, if not more so. For this reason, the tech savvy among us may want to add another app to their phone to use in conjunction with their fitness trackers; one that focuses on what they eat. After all, taking 10,000 steps a day will burn about 400 to 500 calories. Meanwhile, a Big Mac and medium size order of French fries at McDonald’s are already nearly 600 calories, and that doesn’t even include a drink! It’s easy to see from this example that the easiest way to avoid becoming overweight is not to work off the calories that we eat, but to not put them into our bodies to begin with.
This notion will inevitably lead some to focusing on portion control and calorie counting, which can certainly help people stay slim, but doesn’t necessarily address the overall needs of a healthy diet. Consider focusing on keeping your calories low, yes, but also consider the nutrients that are found in each. For example, a small cup of rice and a green salad with some grilled chicken contain about the same number of calories, but you can bet that the nutritional value found in the salad far outweighs that of the rice. Consider how much nutrition you are actually getting from your allotment of calories in order to achieve maximum results for your health.
Protect your health in more ways than one
No matter how much you watch your diet and make sure to get exercise, health problems do become inevitable at some point. Whether due to genetics, environmental conditions, contagion or simply as a result of aging, everyone will need proper medical care in addition to the preventive measures that they have taken. This is where UAE hospitals come into play, as well as health insurance.
To address the high costs that come along with the high quality care found in the UAE’s top private hospitals in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, having a comprehensive health insurance policy is advised. In fact, if you are a resident of either of said emirates, possessing a private health insurance policy is mandatory under penalty of fines.
There are even health insurance plans now that can provide you with an extra discount for use of a fitness tracking device like the one you might already be using. If you have any questions about obtaining health insurance in the UAE, including plans that come with wellness benefits that can help you or your organization to get healthy, talk to UAE Medical Insurance today! Our agents are standing by to provide you with plan comparisons featuring the UAE’s best insurance companies and a free quote.