Dustin’s mHealth Corner: My Inner Fitness Aficionado and Data Nerd Intersect

As a self-proclaimed fitness and data nerd, I’ve had lots of personal experience with app-based tracking tools over the past few years including Nike+, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal, Strava and others, but I have no experience with wearables. Part of the reason is that I haven’t been able to find a single app or device that combines fitness-based data in a way that makes it easy to track the things I care about: calories, dietary macros, running and cycling distance, heart rate, sleep and weightlifting sessions. I reached a point where I didn’t want to try anything new, and as a result, I’ve spent a lot of time just trucking along without any real data points to show my progress – or lack thereof.

Now, with a slew of new and improved wearable technology devices available, I’m once again intrigued to start tracking data to be the best me that I can be. Most of these devices are paired with smartphone apps that allow users to sync several different apps or devices to their mobile phone and then have data from each one pushed into a main dashboard that provides a total health picture for diet, exercise and sleep.

My ultimate goal for this data is to increase my fitness by learning how small tweaks in activity, diet and sleep can affect the way I feel and perform both mentally and physically. To do that, I’ll be embarking on a mission with my fellow Benefitstore teammates to test out the latest and greatest in wearable technology.

The Benefitstore team is full of active, competitive associates that participate in a myriad of sports including weightlifting, running, cycling, golf, surfing, sailing, free diving, kite boarding and more. We’ll be putting wearables to the ultimate test to demonstrate the value of them in the mHealth world when it comes to monitoring total health and activity.

This month my fellow associate Chad Cruse and I will be wearing wristbands that pair with smartphone apps to report data on activity, steps, distance, calories burned, calories consumed and sleep. We’ll be wearing these, 24 hours a day, throughout various types of activity, and we’ll discuss the impact in next month’s post. Did we change our workout habits? Are we eating better? Are we sleeping more? Look for these exciting answers and more next month!

What’s mHealth?

Mobile health (mHealth) is medical and public health practice that is supported by mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and other digital devices used in conjunction with mobile apps, connected and wearable devices. Wearables include activity trackers, smart watches, smart clothing, patches and tattoos, and ingestibles and implants. These devices can track activities like steps, heart rate, sleep and breathing patterns, and some can even track posture and gait. This is a segment of mHealth where awareness is high but adoption is low, and users that do adopt tend to drop their devices after six months or less.

Dustin Freeman, the manager of Benefitstore for Benefitfocus, leads a large technical team responsible for voluntary benefit requirements, enrollment and delivery. He is a GBA certified insurance consultant and an avid road cyclist, mountain biker, and gym goer. Dustin will be hosting a monthly mobile health (#mhealth) blog on wearable devices. Follow Dustin on Twitter for more insights!