Health tracking
The health coach on your wrist

Fitness trackers are hugely popular. In Switzerland, more than half the population now measure their physical activity with the aid of smartwatches, bands or rings. These digital health coaches can do an incredible amount, but you should still rely on your own personal perception.

To paraphrase Arthur Schopenhauer, health is our most precious asset. Although the German philosopher's maxim is now well over 150 years old, it seems more relevant than ever in today's world. Awareness of health issues is increasing, particularly among younger, more tech-savvy generations. It's no wonder, then, that there's so much hype surrounding digital health trackers or "wearables".

The agony of choice

Wearables are worn directly on the body, the most well-known type being the smartwatch. However, countless varieties of arm bands, rings and chest straps are also available. Depending on the model, wearers can measure different parameters. Devices range from conventional step counters, which use sensors and GPS tracking to record movements and use this data to calculate the number of steps, through to devices that measure your pulse rate or the level of oxygen saturation in your blood by sending light signals to the skin. The data measured can be combined in order to provide new information. Thanks to ongoing technological advances, the functionality and accuracy of trackers have improved massively in recent years, and an ever larger number of parameters or "biomarkers" can be recorded.

How active am I really?

One benefit of trackers is that they give the wearer an overview of how much physical activity they actually do. That may sound obvious, but there is often a huge gulf between your perception of how much you've moved and the actual intensity of your exercise. It's easy to discount physical activity outside of a conscious workout, even though walking to the supermarket, climbing the stairs at home or running to catch your train can also make you break into a sweat. At the end of each day, your fitness tracker gives you a precise overview of just how much exercise you've actually done, how many calories you've burned, and so on.

The magical 10 000 steps

So it's all sunshine and roses as far as fitness trackers are concerned? Not quite, as the data can be inaccurate depending on the quality of the measuring instrument, which creates uncertainty. Sleep trackers in particular are often not yet sufficiently well developed to be able to determine whether the wearer is genuinely asleep or simply lying down resting, for example. Trackers may also indicate poor sleep quality even though you wake up feeling fit as a fiddle. If the results from the tracker alter your own perception, this can become a problem. Health myths, which can be very persistent, are another concern. The best-known example is 10 000 steps per day, which has become established as the magical threshold for a healthy lifestyle. Numerous studies have now proved that every step you take is beneficial for your health.

Fitness trackers are suitable for anyone who wants to have an overview of their physical activity and set themselves specific exercise and health targets. As a daily companion, they can help you have a healthier lifestyle by exercising more, or motivate you to build more relaxation into your day. What's important, however, is that you don't put more faith in the tracker data than you do in your own perception of your health.

From your fitness tracker direct to the BENEVITA app

SWICA wants you to have an active lifestyle. That is why BENEVITA users can link their tracker directly to the BENEVITA app. Users receive credits for active minutes and steps in the form of points and community coins that they can spend on premium discounts and donation projects.

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