Before she leaves the house every morning, Abigail Heng puts on her fitness tracker instead of a watch. But for the 23-year-old, who has been using a Fitbit Flex regularly for about a year now, it is more of a tool to measure her general wellness and activity levels than to track her length and intensity of exercise.
In today’s fast paced world, living a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge when faced with a lack of time. This is all the more so for office workers who spend upwards of eight hours per day sitting in front of their computers working.
Recent studies have documented the significant health risks of physical inactivity well. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality. And prolonged sitting, for more than eight hours per day, increases your risk of developing type two diabetes by a whopping 90 per cent.
This is where people like Abigail use a fitness tracker to help ensure that any sedentary behaviour is kept to a minimum.
“It has improved how active I am on a daily basis. I realised that on weekends, I am not active, but on weekdays I take more steps as compare to the weekends. Because on weekends you spend more time at home resting as opposed to on weekdays when you go to work,” the communications executive said.
“Personally I hadn’t known the difference, but the data has told me there is a difference. So after using this, I try to make a conscious effort to go out instead of staying home the whole day.”
On the other side of the coin, fitness trackers have also enabled the man on the street to measure another activity that is also intrinsically linked to physical and mental health – sleep.
Having sufficient sleep is necessary for a host of biological functions which help with maintaining healthy brain function, a balance of hormones and a strong immune system. And for Abigail, the sleep tracking function on her fitness band has proven particularly handy.
“The fitness tracker has told me my sleep is more disrupted than it would be. It will draw you a graph and show you when you are in a deep sleep and when it was restless,” she said.
“Overall, it will tell you how many hours of deep sleep you had and when you have woken up during your sleep.
“People generally don’t know about your quality of sleep so to see the data on your sleep is quite interesting because you can’t really get that experience anywhere else before this whole wearable technology came about.”
Sport: Fitness and wellness
Proficiency level: Expert/Intermediate