Businesses routinely collect all sorts of numbers, because numbers tell a story. By measuring activities and outcomes in businesses, we can understand the drivers of business performance, and use these insights to take corrective action and maximise success.
In the past, tracking health and wellbeing wasn’t that easy. You could weigh yourself, have your blood pressure taken by a doctor, but the amount of actual health data was quite limited. This has all changed over the last few years, though. Thanks to advances in technology such as smart phones and sensors in wearable devices, you can now measure and track all kinds of things that can help you reduce risk and improve the quality and longevity of your life.
So where and how and what do you start tracking?
First of all, you need to measure how active your are, for instance how far you run or walk in a 24 hour period.
Moving your body is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. There are a whole range of devices now available that help you track your steps and compare your activity levels with others. The device usually sits on your wrist, measuring motion and counting your steps. Sensors in the device measure the acceleration, frequency, duration, intensity and patterns of your movement—taken together that’s a good collection of data that can help you take action.
Why should you care?
Exercise is an important healthy habit with plenty of data highlighting the link between fitness and longevity. In one study, for instance, researchers in Australia found that people who engaged in small amounts of vigorous activity (such as jogging or aerobics) could help reduce the risk of early death.
Secondly – start tracking your sleep.
You can measure the quantity and quality of your sleep using a range of apps and wearable devices. The best sleep-tracking apps come with a hardware component such as a wristband or under-the-sheet sensor and have contact with the body during the night. The tracker translates wrist movements into sleep patterns as best it can. It’s a useful guide, but it’s not as accurate as polysomnography—the process used by experts to measure sleep in a lab – which monitors brain activity rather than how much you’re tossing and turning. You don’t need that much accuracy if you’re starting out. You just need a baseline.
Why should you care?
Whatever age you are, there’s plenty of evidence to show that adequate sleep fuels your mind and body and helps you cope with life’s ups and downs. Whilst you’re sleeping, your body recovers from the stresses of the day. Think of sleep as a mechanism by which your body restores its energy. So when you get sufficient sleep, you feel more alive, your concentration is improved and you’re able to function better.
So, whilst intuition will give you a sense of what’s important to you, combining intuition with data, hard facts, will enable you to make more confident decisions to prevent disease, or get better treatment when you do get sick.
So why not start tracking your health today
and allow your future self to thank you!