The one thing you need to help pull you out of a health rut

The answer is digital

We all go through stages of flux with our health. You may have trained for a 10km run, and now you’re having a rest from running, but sometimes these fluctuations become ruts. Whether it’s your diet, your activity levels or your mental well being, the bridge between meaningful digital wellness tools and well being levels has been well and truly built.

Disclaimer: I’m not working for any of the apps of businesses mentioned. I just love the power of digital health tools!

What is digital wellness?

Digital wellness is a broad term that covers a whole range of digital devices, tools. monitoring systems and even government-led wellness initiatives. Examples are:

  • Digital activity trackers (like monitoring how many steps you take in a day)

  • Bio-sensing wearable devices (such as heart monitors and Fitbits)

  • Digital health records (your medical history all kept in one space)

  • Teleconferencing with health professionals instead of face-to-face appointments

While some of these digital tools sound like something out of the Jetsons, it’s incredible how popular they have become.

what is digital wellness

How do digital wellness tools get you out of your rut?

By holding you accountable. That’s right! When you have push notifications urging you to get 10 more minutes of exercise everyday, or get out of your chair every 20 minutes at work, the irritation will drive you to better health! Plus, you can see a clear graphs of your progress showing you the real truth.

The combination of health apps I suggest for anyone stuck in a health rut:

  • One activity tracker (steps and heart rate)

  • One nutrition recording app. My Fitness Pal is a good option.

  • One meditation app (Breathe or Calm are great)

  • and one symptom recording all if you’re in the midst of injury rehabilitation, or any treatment plan, including for mental health.

Activity trackers are popular and they work

Activity trackers from the stepping tracker on your iPhone to Fitbits on your wrist all work to track your movement. If you have a more complex tracking device, you may even be able to measure your heart rate, distance traveled and top speed.

Aussies are loving wearable technology, with one study finding those using wearable tech increased from 19 to 27% between 2016 and 2018.

Setting SMART Goals is the key to getting out of a health rut - digital wellness can help

Goal setting is great, but it can by empty if your goal isn’t measurable. Thanks to digital wellness devices, you can track your wellness data to monitor your progress..

A SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

So! For example, your goal might be to walk 20 minutes everyday. But that’s not enough. It’s not concrete enough and you’re likely to favour an excuse instead of your seemingly boring walk.

It needs to have parametres:

Specific: Walk 20 minutes per day from home to work (instead of catching the train) But what about weekends? Ok, change it to 20 minutes per day, at any time of day.

Measurable: Track the time you spend walking daily thanks to your wearable device

Achievable: 20 minutes is a very manageable investment in your time

Realistic: Everyday? What about when it rains? What if you feel sick one day? Let’s change it to 6 days per week.

Timely: So by summer I can walk along the beach with my friends without getting out of breath

NEW SMART GOAL: I’m going to walk 20 minutes per day, 6 days per week.

And you digital wellness device is going to help you get there!

how to get out of a health rut

Digital wellness tools help you communicate better with your health professionals = help you get out of your rut

As a Physiotherapist, I have about 5 minutes to check in with a repeat patient and see how they are progressing since they’re last appointment. The rest of the time is spent on treatment, and education.

If I have a patient I’m treating for chronic, cervicogenic (from the neck) headache, I need to know how often many headaches they had since I last saw them, how long they lasted, what medications they took and how often, if it stopped them from their daily activities, and if they feel better or worse than when they last saw me. That’s a lot of information for a patient to remember!

I had one patient who wrote a huge A3 spreadsheet of all this information over a month. A practitioner’s dream! But most people won’t do that. They’ll rely on their memory.

Instead of asking a patient to recall all this information, we can use digital wellness tools to help.

Tools like Apple Health help a patient monitor their medication dosages, and symptoms. The patient can whip out their phone and show me how often they needed pain killers, and how much they took.

The same goes for their activity. If they’ve had two episodes of headaches since I treated them last, their activity tracker will show huge declines on those days, giving me accurate information of their well being since I last saw them. Thanks to digital wellness tools, I’m able to see this information quickly and easily within a few minutes, and record it in my notes. This takes the pressure off the patient from having to remember all the details.

For this patient suffering chronic headaches, seeing a clear pattern of improvement helps them feel a sense of relief. Plus! Having access to all of this health data on their own phone is hugely empowering.

Many digital wellness tool interact with each other

Apple health is one tool that’s created to interact with a number of other third-party tools to help you monitor everything from your sleep to your health. This is really exciting for those tech-savvy people out there, but if you’re very new to the wellness tool world, stick to just a few.

how digital health apps can help you

Digital wellness empowers you to start fresh

If you’re stuck in a health rut, now is the time to start again. Forget the 10 Mars bars you ate yesterday, or the empty graphs in your Fitbit app. Today is the day!

  1. Set a SMART goal for your wellness. Only one! And it must be positive eg. A distance to walk vs. ‘not going to eat candy’

  2. Integrate the digital wellness tools you need

  3. Track your progress every 3 days. If you miss a day, no worries! You’ve allowed for that in the ‘realistic’ part of your SMART goal setting

Ruts don’t last forever, even though we can get stuck in them for months and even years. There’s always time to turn things around.

Phones are an integral part of our daily lives, so use yours to help pull yourself out of your health rut, and help you move forward towards your goals.

If you’re stuck in a health rut and don’t know where to start. Send me an email, and I can recommend that important first step.

caitlin reid wellness consultant physiotherapist