The need for a strong commitment to health
The soaring healthcare costs that have been troubling our country in recent years are largely affected by the drastic increase in obesity rates we’ve seen over the last decade. This condition very commonly leads to additional costly health problems like diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many others. Promoting healthier behaviors and habits, particularly with the young people in our country, is a necessary and truly critical need if we want to decrease the obesity rates in our country and lessen the healthcare burden on our society.
Digital at the core of healthier living
In light of the large challenges we face with healthcare in our country, digital technology is allowing us to start putting smart, engaging and fun solutions at people’s fingertips. Healthier living is literally a few clicks away and the digital offerings popping up almost by the second are exciting to see and something everyone should start taking notice. These technologies address almost every aspect of health and I could probably devote a blog post to each one, but instead I’ll give a summary of several of my favorites for you to consider.
Simple digital solutions to get you on your way
Shop Smarter. Most people can’t get through a day without their smartphone. It’s our GPS, our rolodex, our camera. With Fooducate (http://www.fooducate.com/about), it can (and should) now serve as your grocery store shopping companion. Fooducate is like taking your own personal dietitian to the supermarket. By scanning the barcode of any item on the shelf you, you get to see the stuff manufacturers don’t want you to notice. It will actually give the product a grade based on the healthy vs. not-so-good-for-you ingredients it contains and provided other alternatives for you to consider. It reminds me of the book Eat This Not That! from two Men’s Health writers a few years back that called out all the unhealthy components of the most common foods and brands we eat and offered better alternatives. But Fooducate now puts this information at your fingertips, so you can make better choices for you and your family when in the store. The app even won Apple’s best of the iPhone Health & Fitness category in later 2011.
Cook smarter. Getting the right food in your pantry is only half the battle. For many people, figuring out how to make that food into simple and delicious meals that they and their family will enjoy is time-consuming task. There are literally millions of recipe sites and blogs and navigating them to find a mealtime solution takes longer than you have. Enter Gojee.com. It helps you put all those healthy new ingredients to good use. All you need to do is take a couple seconds to type in any allergies, some likes and dislikes and the ingredients you have on hand. The site then serves up some of the absolute best recipes from their team of 200 food bloggers around the web (along with photos that will have your mouth watering).
Set Goals and Track Your Progress. So now that you’ve got digital solutions to help with diet, which is 80% of the healthy living battle, you need to focus on the other 20% which is exercise. Pedometers have gotten increasing popular over the last couple of years and now healthcare companies are even distributing them in an effort to reward people with discounted healthcare costs for being more active. FitBit (Fitbit.com) is a sleek and tiny fitness tracker (that clips to the inside of your pocket or even your bra strap) that uses a sensitive 3D motion sensor to track your daily activity. It keeps track of steps taken, stairs climbed, calories burned, and more, motivating you throughout the day. There is also a somewhat mysterious blue flower. The height of the flower corresponds with how active and healthy you are that day based on goals that you set up on FitBit’s website. Ran a mile during lunch and ate a healthy lunch? Your flower will grow to mirror your progress. Late night of partying followed by a day lying on the couch? Your bud will wilt and shrink. The device also syncs with a pretty robust iPhone app that lets you track your progress in more depth than and enter the food you’ve eaten to complete the picture.
These digital examples are only the tip of the iceberg of hundreds of other simple solutions available today (and new ones being developed as we speak) to empower healthier living. With all this new technology at our fingertips enabling positive health behavior in ways like never before, we should be able to make healthier living something that is easy for everyone.