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Wellness Tech 101: Get the Download on Tracking Your Health

April 08, 2021

When it comes to fighting against and preventing cancer, we’re getting smarter every day. While each development in cancer research teaches us more about how to fight the disease, new technological advancements are also equipping patients with novel tools for prevention and early detection.

Knowing and listening to your body is especially important during cancer treatment. Telemedicine, wearable technology, and smartphone applications make it more convenient than ever to take control of your health.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine, sometimes called telehealth, is not new, but the COVID-19 pandemic expanded use of the technology that allows patients and providers to meet virtually by computer, smart phone, or tablet. Telemedicine offers patients direct access to a range of providers and specialists, while saving time and expense by limiting travel. While telemedicine does not completely eliminate the need for patients to travel for certain aspects of treatment and in-person appointments, it allows patients to connect with their care teams from the comfort of their homes between in-person treatments.

Wearable Technology

A potentially lifesaving accessory, wearable technology is more than a fashion statement. Smart devices like watches typically rest directly on your skin, which enables it to closely monitor cancer-related risk factors like physical activity. According to the American Cancer Society, 26% of adult Americans report no leisure-time activity, and the National Cancer Institute reports nearly 70% of adults are considered overweight or obese. Smart watches can help track your daily activity, with personalized goals and reminders to encourage you to get up and moving. Evidence shows that losing just 5% to 10% of one’s body weight may result in improved health and maintaining an active lifestyle can reduce your risk of disease, including cancer.

For those already fighting cancer, physical activity has been shown to improve quality of life. Benefits of regular exercise include a lower risk of heart disease; healthier bones, muscles, and joints; improved balance and circulation; reduced nausea and fatigue; a lower risk of anxiety and depression; improved self-esteem; improved capabilities to maintain social contacts and quality of life; and more control over weight.

Health Apps

Smart phone applications – commonly known as apps – can help track and manage your health in ways that are personalized for your needs and health goals. Health apps can help you monitor specific symptoms such as weight, mood, sleep, and nutrition, as well as track patterns and detect changes in your symptoms over time. By consistently logging symptoms in health apps, you can collect important data to guide your health decisions and potentially share with a physician. For cancer patients, research has shown patients who used apps to track their symptoms typically had a higher quality of life.

Health apps can also help you track toward goals such as smoking cessation. Nearly one in five deaths in the U.S. is linked to smoking, and 30% of all cancer deaths are attributed to smoking. Apps for smoking cessation can help users stay accountable and on track while trying to quit.

It’s important to take an active role in your health, and technology is making it easier than ever to do just that. As with anything new, there’s a learning curve – but the results could reveal details and patterns that will help you and your care team better manage your symptoms, making the time investment well worth it.


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