The Future of Fitness Tech Isn’t About What’s On Your Wrist

But it might be about your friends.

Today, there are more than 100,000 health apps installed on over 100 different kinds of wearable tech devices—each one giving us highly analytical insights into our bodies and what we choose to do with them. Thirty percent of these apps are focused on fitness; 15.5 percent focus on general wellness like relaxation solutions, yoga instructions, and beauty tips; 7.4 percent focus on nutrition; 16.6 percent offer medical references about drugs and diseases; 6.6 percent help us manage our medical conditions; and 23 percent provide tips for managing our addictions, reproductive cycles, pill schedules, and more.

Clearly, there’s a collective desire to track our inner workings. But one can’t help but wonder why—especially since “the most frequent user of health and fitness apps for iPhones are mostly mothers between the ages of 25 and 54 who are sports fans and who generally lead healthy lifestyles,” according to Flurry Analytics. If the most devoted users of fitness apps are already healthy, what’s the point of collecting and analyzing all that health data?

The answer might just lie in something utterly immeasurable: motivation. A lot of fitness app users rave about how the technology itself encourages them to keep going. There’s Runkeeper, which offers audio cues to coach users along the way. "We enabled users to sign up for training plans that not only allow you to follow a calendar, but get other content like suggestions for rest-day activities and healthy tips so you can make better choices," the app’s founder and CEO Jason Jacobs recently explained. Some apps gamify fitness to motivate users, like Pact, which sets cash stakes if you don’t meet your fitness goals, or Runtastic, which awards you with products and services based on how much activity you’ve completed. But the smartest app developers don’t just see users as consumers. According to a Nielsen survey, 49 percent of 471 fitness app and wearable consumers rely on interaction with their friends and family to stay motivated, which has been the selling factor of utterly un-tech-savvy support programs like Weight Watchers. By strapping social media to our wrists and biceps, we’re tapping into a healthier collective consciousness—turning the tracking of calories into an activity as community-driven as snapping pics on Instagram.

Many fitness apps are less dependent on the technology that fuels them than on the people who use them. Bike apps like BikeMap rely on cyclists to report the routes that work best for them. Without user-collected ocean swells and wind data, Ocean Rider’s Journal couldn’t show where the best surfing conditions are occurring along the coast. To increase workplace mindfulness, Hackbright alumna Amanda Gill requires an entire workforce to measure their stress patterns throughout the day on her app BioRetro. Other than surreptitious motion sensors, the collection of all this data wouldn’t be possible without participants willing to spill their fitness secrets. According to Women’s Health magazine, MyFitnessPal users with friends “drop twice as much weight as users who don’t have a community” and “users who have 10 or more friends on the app lose on average four times as much weight as users who have none.” So maybe it isn’t really about whether we’re accessing health devices on the Apple Watch, the Jawbone Up, or the FitBit; it’s about who we interact with along the way.

Illustration by Tom Eichacker

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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The Planet

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

via Found Animals Foundation / Flickr

Service dogs are true blessings that provide a wide array of services for their owners based on their disability.

They can provide preventative alerts for people with epilepsy and dysautonomia. They can do small household tasks like turning lights on and off or providing stability for their owners while standing or walking.

For those with PTSD they can provide emotional support to help them in triggering situations.

However, there are many people out there who fraudulently claim their pets are service or emotional support animals. These trained animals can cause disturbances in businesses or on public transportation.

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