15 Ways to Track Your Health and Learn More About Your Body
The CDC calls for widespread anti-body testing as the best defense so far against a second wave of coronavirus — and states like California, New York and Florida are ramping up. Knowing more about our bodies can help prevent disease down the road and knowing whether you have immunity against one as fatal and contagious as COVID-19 can help prevent others from getting sick too.
Of course, preventive health starts with regular check ins with your MD but there are many ways tech has made it easier to track your health and wellness beyond the annual physical, helping to keep potential disease at bay. (The CDC, in fact, has an easy tool to know which screenings and vaccines you need for your age/lifestyle.) From apps to wearables to super cool innovations in health tech, here are ways to uplevel your preventive care and check in with your body's ever-evolving changes.
For starters, there are plenty of free and low-cost apps that help you track your health and wellness:
- Apple's Health app tracks everything from what you eat to your fitness to your period cycle. See how your cholesterol or blood pressure or weight has changed over the years or review your exercise activity for any given day.
- Cronometer Trying keto for a week? Manage calories and carbs with this app.
- Fooducate will track your mood, hunger, and sleep levels and will even send you alerts when you're about to eat something not so healthy.
- Instant Heart Rate measures your heart rate when you place your finger over the camera lens. It works by sensing slight changes in the color of your fingertip that occur with each heartbeat.
- My Fitness Pal makes it easy to track things like diet, sleep, and exercise.
Wearables can be more convenient than carrying your phone on your body. Here are some smart devices that can check in on your bod while you work out, sleep, eat, breathe and more:
Oura Ring $299
This titanium ring monitors how your body is doing through all stages of the day. It wraps around your finger, where the pulse is strongest to capture your resting heart rate, body temp and more. You get three daily scores on sleep, activity and readiness and advice for how to improve. Check in with Oura's Moment feature for a guided meditation or mindful breathing sesh.
It's one of Brit's faves: "This is by far the most accurate and fashionable sleep tracker I've ever used. It predicts what my energy will be like each day and even whether I should work out or not!" Now get $30 off until May 15 by linking here.
Score amazing naps with this temperature-controlled/game-changing sleep system. The pad uses water-based heating and cooling to give you the perfect temperature for much-needed deep sleep.
It's another Brit favorite: "Trust me when I *legitimately* say that this thing falls into my top three favorite products of ALL TIME. It has changed my life and saved my marriage. For real!"
Nutrisense $175 and up
This continuous glucose monitor goes right on your arm to report your sugar levels throughout a two-week period and the app connects you with nutritionists who can help you along your journey. Submit your health questionnaire to see if you qualify.
Fitbit Flex $120
This Fitbit tracks your steps, distance, calories burned, active/nonactive minutes while sending you reminders to get moving. It tracks your sleep too: how long and how well you sleep so you're inspired to make better bedtime habits.
Biostrap Total Health Set $250
This wristband and "shoepod" tracks your heart rate, oxygen saturation, respiratory rate and sleep, plus gives you detailed information about your workouts. You can even create your own library of custom workouts.
Body Scans and Tests
Genetic testing, whole body MRIs and 3D scanning are just some of the innovations that go beyond your annual physical:
This home-based saliva testing kit is all you need to get the deets on your DNA. Simply spit in a tube and in a few weeks you'll get reports letting you know about your likelihood for certain health conditions. According to the company, 76 percent reported making healthier choices after using the product.
Vo2 Max up to $250, depending on provider
VO2 max tests the amount of oxygen you use during your workouts, which is known to be the best indicator of how fit you are, how fast your metabolism is and your overall cardiovascular fitness. You'll find this test at some gyms and holistic health clinics (Google VO2 max testing near me). How does it work? You'll wear a mask and heart rate monitor hooked up to a treadmill or stationary bike that collects and measures the volume of oxygen you inhale and exhale.
DEXA Scan $75 for initial assessment, $50 for subsequent
A DEXA scan is a diagnostic test similar to an X-ray that your doc can use to measure your bone density and whether you're at higher risk for fractures (it's often used to diagnose osteoporosis). But it also can measure your lean muscle mass and body composition to help inform your workouts. Research from the University of Oxford shows that butt, hip, and thigh fat is healthy and can actually lower your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes while extra weight around your waist can lead to obesity, which means it can be good to know where your fat sits in your body.
Fit3D Proscanner Cost varies by location
In just 40 seconds, this 3D body scanner will capture your body's circumference measurements, body composition, posture analysis, Body Shape Rating (BSR), Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and shows you how you compare health-wise against others of your gender and age. You can find 3D body scanners like Fit3D mainly in gyms, health clubs, and fitness studios.
This "physical of the future" makes it easier to pick up on signs of disease at the earliest stages. Membership is steep at the early adopter stage but includes a whole body MRI, genetic analysis, biochem analysis of your blood, saliva, urine and vitals and a super-detailed but easy-to-understand readout and review of all your body's organs: your heart, brain, uterus… The non-invasive scan can detect changes linked to common cancers, cardiac, neurodegenerative, metabolic diseases and more.
What are your favorite ways to track your health these days? Share with us @BritandCo!
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Theresa Gonzalez is a content creator based in San Francisco and the author of Sunday Sews. She's a lover of all things design and spends most of her days momming her little one Matilda.