Technology holds great promise to help us improve our health, but an over-reliance on technology can get in our way. With everything that we have learned about science and technology, the reality is that we are still people, with all our weaknesses and strengths. We often set goals with ambivalence, then rush forward hoping that a technological solution will move us in the direction we think we want to move. Unfortunately, owning a Fitbit will not make us more fit, and checking our pulse every five minutes while working out will not lead to a better exercise session. With the availability of so much technology for tracking our daily exercise, vital signs, and various other measures of health, we need to be more careful than ever to determine specifically what it is that we are trying to accomplish with the use of our technology.
When it comes to good health, it is the fundamentals that matter, and achieving the fundamentals requires being mindful and making repeated efforts to master them. For almost all adults, the most important habits to develop are still related to diet and exercise. Consuming the right diet and exercising adequately requires that the correct choices be made each and every day, all day long. Technology can help but will not do it for us. We need to be thoughtful about how we use technology and explicit about how we expect it to help. After a reasonable amount of time, we should evaluate to see if it is working for us. If it is, then we should continue to use it. If it is not, then we should stop using it or make a different change, like performing a new type of exercise.
Our goal should be to have intelligent empathic integration of technological and behavioral techniques to achieve an optimal health outcome. Putting running shoes by the bed at night is a great thing to do to encourage us to run in the morning. Choosing motivational music can help us get the energy and enthusiasm to go for that run (our favorites include the Rocky theme song and "I Didn't Come this Far to Only Come this Far"). A visual reminder over the refrigerator can "nudge" us to make good choices as we open the door.
For those who want to learn more about how to integrate behavioral management into their advice for patients we highly recommend reading " Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard " by Chip Heath and " Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness " by Richard Thaler. We have always been, and remain, excited about the promise of technology to help us accomplish our goals. That said, we told the nurse to stop checking her pulse, to put on some music, and to appreciate the leaves on the trees this autumn while she was running. As for the gentleman outside the mall, well …
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Dr. Notte is a family physician and associate chief medical information officer for Abington (Pa.) Jefferson Health. Follow him on Twitter @doctornotte. Dr. Skolnik is professor of family and community medicine at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, and an associate director of the family medicine residency program at Abington Jefferson Health.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com .
Medscape Business of Medicine © 2020 Cite this: A Cigarette in One Hand and a Fitbit on the Other - Medscape - Feb 11, 2020.
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