Is Technology Making You Healthier?

My first experience with technology tracking my workout and results was at the Dallas YMCA some 10 years ago.  It sparked a little competition between the lunch workout group, then quickly moved to us vs. the retired guys that were spending a lot more than an hour on the machines.  The results were impressive, if only for comparison purposes.  You put in the extra set or mile when you had the time to make sure you were in the top 10%.  It was a personal challenge, but I noticed results in strength, endurance and effort.  Technology and a little competition improved my personal results without me really pushing for that specific goal.

Ten years have flown by with huge strides in physical awareness, tracking and technology.  We are surrounded by it.  Have you noticed?  From the radio and bill board I’m now wondering how old is my heart? (Texas Health Resources).  Thanks to my friends, I’m now wondering how many steps do I take in a day, how many calories have I burned or consumed using the Fuel band? Others are posting their work-out accomplishments on Facebook, making me feel even worse that I was simply too tired to want to get out of bed this morning or I didn’t go 50 miles today. Where do you guys find the time?

Last year I made a small investment in a Garmon device that does everything except take the steps or spin the bike itself.  I was able to better monitor my pace, improve on my workouts and track the miles that I put in each week.  Tracking your workouts and pace makes you aware of the trend in activity and improvement in each physical activity.  The technology at our fingertips today, with phones and other devices, is amazing and we should all be taking advantage of the technology that can keep us in shape and true to our endeavors.

The HR world is embracing technology not only to improve the employee experience, hire the best talent, improve retention, monitor expenses and absences, but also to keep us engaged in becoming healthier.  A few years ago, we all welcomed the Wellness program to the HR business umbrella.  We have proved Wellness programs improve morale and reduce organizational cost.  Wellness programs use technology to show results from employees’ biometric screenings, educational resources, and personalized wellness plans with goals and activities based on specific health status and unique health limitations or needs.  Now, companies are exploring how portals, mobile devices, social networks and online games engage workers.  What is your company doing?  Can you be the trailblazer to take these ideas to your executive leaders?

Recent readings show that 85% of Americans have some type of mobile phone.  More than 1,600 new apps debut every day. Mobile technology is quickly becoming a preferred channel of communication and tracking.  We use this with dashboards and approval processing, but 2014 looks like a new game in Wellness programs.  Wellness systems are incorporating gamification (the use of gamelike features in nongame situations to motivate changed behavior), competitions, social networking, mobile apps, intranets, and internal social networks to push wellness programs and improve participation.  As we work on our 2014 budgets, make sure your HR department plans to use existing employee wellness and tracking technology to improve employee wellness in new, fun and successful ways. A little competition is good for everyone!

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