Today’s healthcare system is a patient-driven industry. We now look to the public forum to keep track of calorie intake, physical exertion, and even latest medical breakthroughs. Tracking daily food intake and activity is not necessarily a novel concept; however, technology completely changes the game. With apps like Fit Bit and Apple Health, it is easier than ever to integrate health monitoring into everyday life. Your iPhone already tracks your walking/running distance for the day as well as how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed. We can track our fitness trends for the last year without even thinking about it.
The Quantified Self: Self Knowledge Through Numbers is a movement to measure and track activities in our everyday lives with the help of technology. It has evolved as a global community of regular people, health enthusiasts, and scholars who look for new ways to monitor health and activity. For the past few years, the Quantified Self has managed forums, given Ted Talks, and held global conferences to bring together a community and share insight.
The most recent conference took place in Amsterdam, bringing in speakers from prestigious institutions like Harvard and Oxford to discuss a huge variety of health issues. Speakers discussed a plethora of topics, ranging from “Mind Tracking and the Economy” to “Using Genetics to Recover from Injury”. There are also more informal meet up groups in over a 100 cities worldwide—it's so easy to find a collaborative gathering or start your own. Many members even develop and endorse new apps that allow us to measure anything and everything, from heart rate to sleep patterns.
The website’s free guide lists a ton of ingenious and intuitive apps that allow users to track almost anything. For example, you can use MoodPanda to rate your mood and give explanations for your feelings that day. You can connect these mood ratings with how you’re feeling physically and track the connection between your mental and physical states.
Why is the Quantified Self Important?
Currently, 68.6% of American adults are overweight or obese, and nearly 10% of the American population has diabetes. Obesity is a leading driver for many chronic illnesses, including diabetes and hypertension. And with increasing chronic illnesses come increasing healthcare costs – expenses of severely obese patients are 41% higher than those of a healthy weight. Now let’s look at physical activity – nearly 60% of American adults do not engage in enough physical activity to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
One explanation for these statistics is that monitoring healthy activity may not be on your mind. With The Quantified Self movement, people are encouraged to track everything and anything in an almost effortless way. Using technology, keeping track of our habits becomes easy, efficient, and routine. The Quantified Self encourages everyone to start by taking small steps towards a healthy lifestyle. Monitoring food intake and physical activity not only forces us to face reality, but also encourages us to work harder.
Visit their website to learn more and to access a guide of helpful apps.