The majority of my readers know who I am. And if you don’t there’s one thing you should know about me — I love gadgets. I’m well known for being an Apple fanatic, but when it comes to health and wellness I have a plethora of trinkets that collect a variety of data to help me stay motivated.
At the end of the day though, if your data isn’t being used for anything, it’s just a bunch of numbers sitting on your phone screen… or somewhere. Between the smart scale, apple watch, MyFitnessPal, and sleep tracker, almost every detail of my life is being tracked from the number of hours slept, weight, steps, calories burned, heart rate (active and resting) and my caloric and macronutrient intake.
Realistically, this data is all simply information that’s “nice to know”. I highly doubt any of the competitive bodybuilders from a few decades ago were actively tracking this information. That being said, now that fitness trackers are on the rise and everything has to be “smart” and connect with your phone, I also think it’s more important than ever to make sense of what everything actually means.
A good analogy that struck me while I was on my commute today involved the assessment cycle. There’s this notion that assessment occurs on a cycle instead of a linear pathway, where once you’ve collected and analyzed your data, it’s important to utilize the data to change your program or services. Typically, this involves a survey and using the survey data to actually improve programming instead of just saying “well that’s great, we did a survey!”.
On the research end, just imagine if Darwin spent years collecting specimen, and simply said “well great! I have tons of pretty pictures in a book, my work here is done”. Well evolution would probably have been coined by someone else.
An exaggerated example aside, the importance of using data can be demonstrated, albeit in a relatively obnoxious fashion. The app that I use is to do this is Addapp. Addapp utilizes all of the data that you may or may not track and create meaningful connections and suggestions (that they call Action Points) to actually use the data to improve your health.
So far a lot of the information is “relative” to other users, but what the app currently offers is promising. During the few minutes I have off work, I check the app to see what new insights have been generated to see if there are any actionable things that I might consider changing, or if it’s simply time to reinforce that I’ve been doing good.
Given that the app is free, I’d recommend you to check it out — who knows, with time the app might just provide more insight that creates powerful connections across your different habits!