Grow Younger, Live Longer
In a nutshell
- Wearables for longevity offer a unique way to monitor and manage your health. These innovative gadgets, like the Apple Watch, Fitbit Sense, Omron HeartGuide, Oura Ring, and Levels Health, track crucial health metrics – heart rate, blood pressure, activity levels, sleep quality, stress, blood oxygen levels, and glucose levels.
- By providing real-time insights, they allow you to make informed decisions contributing to a healthier, longer life. Integrating these devices into your daily routine is a proactive step towards personal health management and longevity.
Have you ever wished you could hit the ‘pause’ button on your biological clock, living healthier and longer? It’s a dream we all share, and thanks to breakthroughs in technology, it’s closer than you might think. Life-extension technologies, especially wearable devices, are no longer the stuff of science fiction. These small but mighty tools are shaping the future of longevity and are becoming more accessible for the average person.
Wearable Technologies: Your Passport to Longevity
Wearable technology is more than just a fashion statement. It’s like having a passport to longevity right on your wrist or finger. These gadgets have drastically evolved over the past few years, moving well beyond just counting steps or calories.
Today, these devices can monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, sleep quality, and even stress levels—all of which are significant factors affecting your overall health and, consequently, your lifespan. For instance, monitoring your heart rate can help identify any abnormalities, allowing for early intervention. This can be crucial in preventing more severe cardiac issues down the line.1Steinhubl SR, Muse ED, Topol EJ. The emerging field of mobile health. Sci Transl Med. 2015 Apr 15;7(283):283rv3. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa3487. PMID: 25877894; PMCID: PMC4748838. PubMed Source
Blood pressure tracking is just as important. High blood pressure or hypertension is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’ because it typically presents no symptoms but can lead to severe health issues like heart disease and stroke if left unchecked.2Fatima S, Mahmood S. Combatting a silent killer – the importance of self-screening of blood pressure from an early age. EXCLI J. 2021 Aug 16;20:1326-1327. doi: 10.17179/excli2021-4140. PMID: 34650386; PMCID: PMC8495116. PubMed Source
Moreover, wearables have become essential tools in sleep management, helping you understand and improve your sleep patterns. This is crucial because research shows that poor sleep quality and sleep disorders can contribute to various health problems, from obesity and diabetes to cardiovascular diseases and even shortened lifespan.3 Luyster FS, Strollo PJ Jr, Zee PC, Walsh JK; Boards of Directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep. 2012 Jun 1;35(6):727-34. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1846. PMID: 22654183; PMCID: PMC3353049. PubMed Source
Another exciting frontier wearables are crossing is stress tracking. Wearable devices like Fitbit and Garmin offer stress tracking features that use a variety of metrics, including heart rate variability, to help gauge your stress level. Stress has been linked to numerous health problems, from heart disease to depression, and has a significant impact on our lifespan.4 Lin J, Epel E. Stress and telomere shortening: Insights from cellular mechanisms. Ageing Res Rev. 2022 Jan;73:101507. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2021.101507. Epub 2021 Nov 1. PMID: 34736994; PMCID: PMC8920518. PubMed Source
A study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that continuous health monitoring through wearable tech could lead to improved health outcomes and even increased life expectancy .5Lewy H. Wearable devices- from healthy lifestyle to active ageing. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2015;2015:7748-51. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7320188. PMID: 26738088. PubMed Source
y having a tool that can alert you to an elevated stress level or a device that warns of heart rhythm irregularities, you’re better equipped to take proactive steps towards a healthier and potentially longer life. This continuous flow of health data turns these devices into 24/7 personal health consultants, opening a new world of proactive health management.
Key Health Parameters and the Best Gadgets to Monitor Them
Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
The heart, often referred to as the body’s engine, plays a crucial role in our overall health. That’s why monitoring its rate and rhythm is vital in the quest for longevity.
Your heart rate, simply put, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. A resting heart rate that’s consistently too high or too low could be a sign of an underlying heart condition. Monitoring this can help you identify potential irregularities and seek medical attention before more serious issues arise.
One of the most reliable ways to do this is through wearable tech. For instance, the Fitbit Luxe Fitness and Wellness Tracker not only monitors your heart rate 24/7 but also provides personalized insights on your resting heart rate trends. This continuous monitoring can potentially catch the first signs of an abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia, prompting early intervention and possibly preventing more severe heart diseases.
However, it’s not just the heart rate that matters; the variability of your heart rate (HRV) is just as significant. HRV refers to the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. Higher HRV often indicates better cardiovascular fitness and resilience to stress, making it an essential metric for those aiming for increased longevity.
HRV is influenced by many factors, including age, fitness level, stress, and underlying health conditions. As people age, HRV generally decreases. A lower HRV often indicates less variability in the intervals between heartbeats, suggesting that the body is less capable of adapting to stress or recovering from exercise.
Research shows a strong correlation between higher HRV and overall cardiovascular health, resilience, and longevity.6Thayer JF, Ahs F, Fredrikson M, Sollers JJ 3rd, Wager TD. A meta-analysis of heart rate variability and neuroimaging studies: implications for heart rate variability as a marker of stress and health. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Feb;36(2):747-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Dec 8. PMID: 22178086. PubMed Source Wearable devices, like the Fitbit Luxe, provide HRV data that can help you better understand how your body responds to stress and recovery, offering another layer of insight into your heart’s health and, by extension, your potential lifespan.
Blood pressure is a vital sign of our overall health. It’s the force that moves blood through our circulatory system, delivering oxygen and nutrients to our tissues and organs. But when this force is consistently too high, it’s known as hypertension, a dangerous condition that can lead to severe health complications like heart disease and stroke.
Hypertension is often called the ‘silent killer’ because it typically presents no warning signs or symptoms until it causes more serious health problems. That’s why regular monitoring of blood pressure is crucial, especially as we age, and it’s where wearable technology can play a significant role.
The Omron HeartGuide is one such device that helps keep a check on your blood pressure. It’s the first FDA-cleared, wrist-worn blood pressure monitor that measures your blood pressure multiple times a day. It uses an inflatable cuff within the watch band to take an oscillometric blood pressure measurement—the same method doctors use. It also tracks daily activity, such as steps, distance, and calories burned, providing a more comprehensive picture of your overall health.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 and Watch 4 also come equipped with a blood pressure monitoring feature. However, it requires calibration with a traditional cuff-based blood pressure monitor to deliver accurate readings.
Remember, though, while these devices can help monitor blood pressure, they should not replace regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, especially if you have a known heart condition or are at risk for one. Always consult with a healthcare professional for the most accurate information.
Regular blood pressure monitoring using wearable tech like the Omron HeartGuide or the Samsung Galaxy Watch can potentially save lives by detecting hypertension early and enabling proactive management of the condition before it leads to more serious complications.
Physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for global mortality, associated with numerous health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. In contrast, an active lifestyle can contribute to enhanced health and longevity.
Maintaining an active lifestyle doesn’t always mean hitting the gym or running marathons. It can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a brisk walk during lunch breaks, or dancing to your favorite tunes. However, tracking this activity can sometimes be challenging, and this is where wearable tech comes into play.
Devices like the Apple Watch Series 7 are designed to help you stay on top of your daily activity. It tracks three key aspects of movement: the Move ring tracks calories burned, the Exercise ring records minutes of brisk activity, and the Stand ring monitors how often you’ve stood up to break up sedentary time. These metrics encourage you to move more, stand more, and exercise more, right from your wrist.
The watch also features a range of workout types you can track, from running and cycling to yoga and strength training, adapting to your preferred form of exercise. The watch even nudges you with reminders to stand, move, and exercise throughout the day, nudging you toward a more active lifestyle.
The Fitbit Luxe Fitness and Wellness Tracker is another fantastic device that keeps track of your daily activity levels. Along with monitoring your steps, distance, and calories burned, it also has active zone minutes. This feature alerts you when you reach your personalized target heart rate zones during exercise, helping you make the most out of your workouts.
Remember, small steps can lead to big changes. By simply becoming more aware of your daily activity levels through these wearable devices, you can encourage yourself to move more and sit less, leading to a healthier and potentially longer life.
Sleep is often the underappreciated pillar of health. Yet, during these quiet hours, our bodies carry out essential restorative processes, from healing and repair of heart and blood vessels to consolidation of memory and cognitive functions. Inadequate sleep or poor sleep quality, therefore, can wreak havoc on our health, contributing to various issues, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and cognitive dysfunction.7Cappuccio FP, Cooper D, D’Elia L, Strazzullo P, Miller MA. Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur Heart J. 2011 Jun;32(12):1484-92. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007. Epub 2011 Feb 7. PMID: 21300732. PubMed Source
This makes monitoring and managing our sleep habits a critical component of our quest for longevity. While traditional sleep studies can be cumbersome and require a clinical setting, wearable technologies have made it possible to track sleep quality in the comfort of our own beds.
Take, for example, the Biostrap EVO. This wearable takes sleep tracking to a new level by providing comprehensive sleep analysis. It not only records the total sleep duration but also tracks various sleep stages—light sleep, deep sleep, and Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. Each of these stages has a unique role in maintaining our health. Deep sleep is when the body primarily focuses on physical recovery and regrowth, whereas REM sleep is crucial for memory consolidation and mood regulation.
By offering insights into these sleep stages, the Biostrap EVO helps users understand their sleep patterns and pinpoint areas that need improvement. Moreover, it also tracks other vital sleep metrics such as sleep interruptions and sleep efficiency, providing a well-rounded view of your sleep health.
The Oura Ring is another excellent wearable device specifically designed for sleep tracking. This sleek and comfortable ring packs advanced sensors to provide comprehensive insights into your sleep health.
The Oura Ring monitors various sleep parameters, including total sleep duration, efficiency, disturbances, onset latency (how long it takes you to fall asleep), timing (consistency of your sleep schedule), and different sleep stages (light, deep, and REM sleep). It even measures nocturnal body temperature and resting heart rate—two critical health markers.
What sets the Oura Ring apart from many other wearables is its readiness score. It combines data from your sleep, activity levels, and recovery to give you a daily readiness score. This score is a helpful indicator of how ready your body is to face mental and physical challenges on any given day. By understanding this, you can optimize your daily activities to align with your body’s readiness, helping to prevent burnout and promote overall well-being.
The Fitbit Luxe Fitness and Wellness Tracker is another wearable that monitors sleep stages and provides a sleep score each morning based on sleep duration, restlessness, and restorative sleep. It also provides tools to help improve sleep hygiene, such as bedtime reminders and silent alarms.
Stress might be a normal part of life, but chronic stress is a different story. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to numerous health problems, including heart disease, depression, and a weakened immune system.8 Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Miller GE. Psychological stress and disease. JAMA. 2007 Oct 10;298(14):1685-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.298.14.1685. PMID: 17925521. PubMed Source Hence, tracking and managing stress is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to enhancing our health and longevity.
Many of the latest wearables for longevity have integrated stress-tracking capabilities, giving us a glimpse into our body’s physiological response to stress. They typically use a combination of metrics, including heart rate variability (HRV), respiration rate, and other physiological signs of stress.
The Fitbit Sense is one such device that comes with an in-built stress management feature. It gives you a daily stress management score, based on your heart rate, sleep, and activity data. This device even includes an electrodermal activity (EDA) sensor that measures small electrical changes in your skin’s sweat level, which is a direct response to stress.
Furthermore, the Garmin Fenix 6 is another fitness watch that offers advanced stress tracking. It uses HRV data to calculate your stress level, displayed on a scale from 1 to 100. If your stress score gets too high, the device will prompt you to engage in a short, guided breathing exercise to help bring your stress level down.
The Oura Ring, in addition to its sleep-tracking capabilities, also uses your overnight HRV and resting heart rate data to calculate a readiness score, which is a helpful indicator of stress and recovery.
Blood Oxygen Level (SpO2)
Blood oxygen level, also known as SpO2, refers to the amount of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in your blood relative to the amount of hemoglobin not carrying oxygen. It’s a vital health metric that indicates how well your body distributes oxygen from your lungs to all your cells—think of it as the fuel that keeps every cell in your body functioning properly.
Low blood oxygen levels, or hypoxia, can result in inadequate oxygen supply to your cells, impairing their function and potentially leading to serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and respiratory conditions.
Sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts, is a common condition that can cause intermittent hypoxia. Left untreated, it can lead to other serious health problems like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. Regular monitoring of blood oxygen levels can help detect signs of sleep apnea and other respiratory conditions early on, facilitating timely treatment.9 Schütz N, Saner H, Botros A, Pais B, Santschi V, Buluschek P, Gatica-Perez D, Urwyler P, Müri RM, Nef T. Contactless Sleep Monitoring for Early Detection of Health Deteriorations in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Exploratory Study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 Jun 11;9(6):e24666. doi: 10.2196/24666. PMID: 34114966; PMCID: PMC8235297. PubMed Source
Wearable technology is making it easier than ever to keep an eye on this critical health metric. For instance, the Fitbit Sense includes a SpO2 sensor, which measures your blood oxygen levels while you sleep and provides an overnight average. It can alert you to significant variations that might suggest a condition like sleep apnea.
Another standout device is the Garmin Fenix 6. This multi-sport watch offers pulse oximetry to estimate your blood oxygen saturation. The watch measures your SpO2 levels throughout the day and night, giving you a better understanding of how your body is absorbing oxygen.
The Apple Watch Series 7 also includes a blood oxygen app and sensor, allowing you to take on-demand readings of your blood oxygen as well as background readings, day and night.
Glucose is a type of sugar that your body uses for energy. Monitoring your blood glucose levels is crucial, especially for individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing the condition. Chronic high blood glucose, or hyperglycemia, can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage. Hence, regular glucose monitoring and management can be a significant step towards health maintenance and longevity.
While primarily designed for people with diabetes, continuous glucose monitors can also be beneficial for those interested in understanding how different factors, like diet, exercise, and sleep, impact their blood glucose levels, contributing to an overall health and longevity strategy.
Traditional glucose monitoring methods often involve frequent finger pricks to draw blood for testing. However, advancements in wearable technology are changing the game, offering a less invasive and more convenient way to keep tabs on blood glucose levels.10 Ajjan R, Slattery D, Wright E. Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A Brief Review for Primary Care Practitioners. Adv Ther. 2019 Mar;36(3):579-596. doi: 10.1007/s12325-019-0870-x. Epub 2019 Jan 18. PMID: 30659511; PMCID: PMC6824352. PubMed Source
The FreeStyle Libre system by Abbott is one such device that provides continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). It uses a small sensor attached to the back of your upper arm. This sensor measures glucose levels in your interstitial fluid — the fluid in and around your body’s cells — providing real-time glucose readings throughout the day and night for up to 14 days per sensor. It can store up to 8 hours of glucose data, ensuring no information gaps even when you’re not scanning.
Levels Health is another fascinating entrant into the wearable health tech space, particularly concerning metabolic health and glucose monitoring. It is a subscription-based service that combines CGM technology with software analytics to provide real-time feedback on how your diet affects your blood glucose levels and, thus, your overall health.
With a tiny glucose sensor worn on your arm for up to 14 days, Levels Health measures your glucose in real time throughout the day. The Levels app then takes this data and analyzes how different foods and activities affect your glucose levels. It provides you with a score for each meal, aiming to help you understand your body’s unique response to different foods and guiding you toward dietary choices that maintain more stable blood sugar levels.
Wearable technology has undoubtedly revolutionized how we approach health and wellness. While different devices excel in monitoring various aspects, what stands out is their capacity to combine different metrics—offering us a holistic view of our health status.
Whether it’s tracking heart rate variability with the Apple Watch, blood pressure with the Omron HeartGuide, or glucose levels with Levels Health, these wearables allow us to access, understand, and respond to our body’s data in unprecedented ways.
Moreover, the ability of devices like the Fitbit Sense and Oura Ring to monitor multiple aspects, including stress, activity, sleep, and even blood oxygen levels, underlines the comprehensive health support these wearables can provide.
Remember, though, while these wearables for longevity offer valuable health insights, they’re not meant to replace professional medical advice or diagnoses. Always consult with healthcare providers for major health decisions.
Recap and final thoughts
Wearable technology plays a pivotal role in our pursuit of health and longevity. From monitoring heart health and stress levels to tracking sleep quality and blood glucose, wearables provide real-time insights into our body’s key health metrics, empowering us to make informed decisions that support our wellness and longevity journey.
- 1Steinhubl SR, Muse ED, Topol EJ. The emerging field of mobile health. Sci Transl Med. 2015 Apr 15;7(283):283rv3. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa3487. PMID: 25877894; PMCID: PMC4748838. PubMed Source
- 2Fatima S, Mahmood S. Combatting a silent killer – the importance of self-screening of blood pressure from an early age. EXCLI J. 2021 Aug 16;20:1326-1327. doi: 10.17179/excli2021-4140. PMID: 34650386; PMCID: PMC8495116. PubMed Source
- 3Luyster FS, Strollo PJ Jr, Zee PC, Walsh JK; Boards of Directors of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. Sleep: a health imperative. Sleep. 2012 Jun 1;35(6):727-34. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1846. PMID: 22654183; PMCID: PMC3353049. PubMed Source
- 4Lin J, Epel E. Stress and telomere shortening: Insights from cellular mechanisms. Ageing Res Rev. 2022 Jan;73:101507. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2021.101507. Epub 2021 Nov 1. PMID: 34736994; PMCID: PMC8920518. PubMed Source
- 5Lewy H. Wearable devices- from healthy lifestyle to active ageing. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2015;2015:7748-51. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2015.7320188. PMID: 26738088. PubMed Source
- 6Thayer JF, Ahs F, Fredrikson M, Sollers JJ 3rd, Wager TD. A meta-analysis of heart rate variability and neuroimaging studies: implications for heart rate variability as a marker of stress and health. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012 Feb;36(2):747-56. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Dec 8. PMID: 22178086. PubMed Source
- 7Cappuccio FP, Cooper D, D’Elia L, Strazzullo P, Miller MA. Sleep duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Eur Heart J. 2011 Jun;32(12):1484-92. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr007. Epub 2011 Feb 7. PMID: 21300732. PubMed Source
- 8Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Miller GE. Psychological stress and disease. JAMA. 2007 Oct 10;298(14):1685-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.298.14.1685. PMID: 17925521. PubMed Source
- 9Schütz N, Saner H, Botros A, Pais B, Santschi V, Buluschek P, Gatica-Perez D, Urwyler P, Müri RM, Nef T. Contactless Sleep Monitoring for Early Detection of Health Deteriorations in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: Exploratory Study. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2021 Jun 11;9(6):e24666. doi: 10.2196/24666. PMID: 34114966; PMCID: PMC8235297. PubMed Source
- 10Ajjan R, Slattery D, Wright E. Continuous Glucose Monitoring: A Brief Review for Primary Care Practitioners. Adv Ther. 2019 Mar;36(3):579-596. doi: 10.1007/s12325-019-0870-x. Epub 2019 Jan 18. PMID: 30659511; PMCID: PMC6824352. PubMed Source