In this day and age, technology is a part of most Americans’ daily life. With over 64% of American adults owning a smart phone1 and 87% using the Internet2, it has become integrated in our lives and our culture.
Common technology items that are used for wellness include smartphone applications, health websites and wearables. Applications, or apps, can track physical activity, food habits or provide wellness education and support to users. Wearables are accessories that people have on their body, such as a wrist band, that can track physical activity, sleep behavior, and heart rate.
Technology can be a useful tool for your organization when looking to promote a healthy workplace culture.
Here are a few popular wellness related technology items that offer different tools to support employees with their wellness goals:
Wearables, can connect to smartphone apps to let users track sleep activity, steps walked or run throughout the day, one’s heart rate, and the amount of calories burned based on activity level.
Wearables can be useful when employees want to understand their physical activity or sleep patterns. By having the data regarding these habits, behavior change is easily trackable.
There are many free apps that help users track their food and health behaviors by inputting their daily activities. Some apps track meals, snacks and drinks consumed throughout the day and support users in losing weight by creating a personalized diet profile customized to the user’s needs.
Nutrition apps often have a social component to them as well, which allows users to connect with their network to share recipes, goals and challenges throughout their experience. If used as a tool for a worksite wellness program, this can help employees feel supported by their co-workers as they work toward managing a healthy weight.
Other apps can also support your employees in reducing poor health behaviors like smoking. A free app created by the National Cancer Institute, quitSTART, has been embraced by adults looking to quit smoking. This app tracks cravings, moods, slip-ups, and smokefree progress to help users understand their smoking patterns and build the skills needed to successfully become and stay smokefree.
If your workforce has a high rate of smokers who are looking to quit, this may be a useful resource to encourage them to use.
While these options help employees track activity and encourage healthy behaviors, they should not be the only component of a wellness program offered at a workplace. Technology, as in many areas of life, can be a great supplement to supportive programs, policies and opportunities.
It can be easy to offer your worksite a wearable, however, if the culture is one that does not support employees overall health by providing an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice, it will be hard to sustain healthy habits at your workplace. Be sure to consider technology options that will support your organization’s wellness goals when growing a worksite wellness initiative.
1Smith A. U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015. Pew Research Center. Washington DC. April 2015 www.pewinternet.org/
2Internet User Demographics. Pew Research Center. Washington DC. January 2014 www.pewinternet.org/
3QuitGuide App. Smoke Free Website www.smokefree.gov/apps-quitguide
Working on Wellness does not endorse or support any particular wearable or application. Wearables and applications referenced in the blogpost are popular examples intended to illustrate general functionality of such products.