Most of us would like to be fitter and healthier, knowing that being so would reduce our chance of contracting certain diseases and dying earlier than we should, in addition to improving our overall quality of life.
Despite this, most of us don’t know exactly what we should be doing to achieve the best results for our body, in order to live as long as possible: beyond the realm of knowing we should probably exercise more.
However, each of our lifestyle choices, including how much we sleep, how frequently we exercise and our resting heart rate, all affect our overall health span.
Luckily, numerous wearable products have been developed – such as the Apple watch, Fitbit and Oura ring – which give us a better overview of our health. With these devices, we’re able to see stats on some of the most crucial health factors that impact living a long life.
With this in mind, we’re going to talk about three health indicators that are tracked by your wearable. Outlining how they can be used to improve your health and help you live longer, backed by scientific research.
1. Daily Steps
When people think about what they should do to get fit and healthy, a lot of the time their mind jumps to high-intensity workouts, boot camps, endurance activities like running and cycling, or lifting weights at the gym. But the unsung hero, the real MVP of movement, is often overlooked. Walking.
Walking and daily step count are often overlooked because it seems too easy to too simple to make a meaningful difference. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the number of steps you walk in a day strongly correlates to the likelihood of earlier mortality.
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A good initial target is roughly 8,000 steps per day, but it’s important to note that the benefits of walking more is not linear. The benefits of walking more are front-loaded meaning going from 2000 steps per day to 4,000 steps per day is far more important than going from 16,000 steps per day to 18,000 steps per day. This is known as a non-linear dose response relationship. That’s a fancy way of saying that most of the benefit comes in the beginning so making small incremental changes can yield disproportionately large health benefits.
A study on the association of daily step count and step intensity with mortality found a significant association between number of steps and risk of mortality; the greater number of steps taken per day was associated with both lower all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality.
For individuals who walked less than 4,000 steps per day on average, the all-cause mortality rate was 76.7 per 1,000 people.
Those who walked 4,000-7,999 steps per day had a rate of all-cause mortality of 21.4 per 1,000 people, while those who took 8,000-11,999 steps per day the rate was 6.9 per 1,000 people.
By tracking your steps with your wearable you can make sure you’re walking at least over 4,000 steps each day (but the closer to 12,000 steps, the better). Knowing these stats allow you to adjust your lifestyle if you’re walking less than you thought you were, or if you want to decrease your risk of all-cause mortality as much as possible.
In addition to tracking your steps with your wearable and the associated app, downloading an app like Modo Bio can help you to track your steps long-term. So, you can see more than the number of steps you’ve taken on that day or week, but track your average steps taken over the long-run – a measurement which is vital to assessing your health in the long-term.
2. Sleep Duration
Most of us know that we’re meant to get 7-9 hours sleep a night, aiming for 8 as the compromise between the two. However, how many of us actually do?
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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, more than a third of adults in the US don’t get enough sleep. Yet, lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of obesity, diabetes, a range of cardiovascular diseases and even strokes.
A study conducted in Asia on the link between sleep duration and all- and major-cause mortality in adults found that – when compared with 7-8 hours – all other sleep durations were associated with an increased mortality risk (even longer durations of sleep, such as 10 hours).
It’s difficult to judge ourselves on how much sleep we get each night, especially as our ‘bed time’ – a.k.a. the time we’re in bed with the lights off – isn’t necessarily close to the time we actually fall asleep, as many of us struggle to get to sleep and end up tossing and turning for what could be 30 minutes or 2 hours. In fact, around 68% of Americans are thought to have difficulty sleeping at least once a week.
This is where a wearable can help, as it can accurately determine how much sleep you’re actually getting, so that you can make adjustments – such as improvements to your sleep hygiene – if you’re consistently not getting enough.
Moreover, by integrating your wearable with an app such as Modo Bio, which connects users to a health team, you can have your health data reviewed by health providers, who can help you make decisions to improve your health based on your data, such as your sleep stats.
3. Resting Heart Rate
Your resting heart rate is a really good indicator of the health of your heart – and, by extension, your whole cardiovascular system – which points at how likely you are to have certain conditions, such as heart attacks and strokes.
The normal range for resting heart rate is 60-100 BPM so while a RHR below 60 BPM can be an indication of a healthier heart, it can also be an indication that something is wrong so always consult with your healthcare provider to understand the context of your numbers.
If you have a lower heart rate – for example 45-60 beats a minute – it indicates that you have a fitter, healthier heart, as it shows the heart is able to move a sufficient amount of blood and oxygen to your cells with fewer pumps (though heart rates are considered ‘normal’ up to 100 bpm – however, this is certainly less healthy than 60 beats per minute).
In other words: it’s more efficient. This means that the heart does less work in order to achieve the same result (i.e. sufficiently oxygenate your cells). A very high heart rate suggests that your body is struggling to get enough oxygen to your cells and is overworking in order to do so. As such, a high heart rate increases your risk of earlier mortality.
An analysis of 46 studies investigated the link between all-cause and cardiovascular mortality with resting heart rate. Compared to the group with the lowest heart rate (around 45 beats per minute), the risk of all-cause mortality for people whose resting heart rate was greater than 80 beats per minute was increased by 45%.
If you find your resting heart rate is a little higher than you’d like, you can make progress towards bringing it down by coming up with a cardiovascular fitness plan for yourself. Depending on your relative level of fitness already, could include brisk walking, running, biking, swimming or any other cardio workout.
Over time, your resting heart rate will begin to fall, as the heart muscles strengthen – this is because, during exercise, your heart has to pump more blood around the body in order to compensate for the increased consumption of oxygen. This process strengthens the heart and improves its ability to pump blood around the body efficiently.
Bonus Factor: Relationships
Another important factor to consider is the quality of your relationships. This aspect of your lifestyle isn’t as binary as the others but it’s no less important. A study of cancer survivors found that patients were more likely to survive if they were married. The support and pleasant company contributed to their ability to fight the disease.
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Obviously, you don’t need to be married to be your healthiest. But you do need to feel the support of a strong social network. And have people that you can turn to in times of distress. Even if just for company.
That kind of support tends to result in much higher rates of success when it comes to reaching your health goals.
How We Can Help
So, if you want to take charge of your health and improve your longevity, use your wearable to fuel your change. Integrate it with Modo Bio and you’ll have access to a network of health professionals – including Medical Doctors, Certified Personal Trainers, Registered Dietitians and Mental Health providers – who can help you use your data to make the right decisions for your body.
Our platform also gives you the space to add your friends and family to your health team. Giving you the motivating support of those you love.