Wearable Technology: Data without control are useless

The proliferation of wearable technology in sports has led  the vast majority of athletes to obtain data on their physical activity on a regular basis. But do athletes know how to interpret this data?

The personal trainer is the key to correctly interpreting data collected by wearable technology

Data collection is increasingly common in the day-to-day of physical exercise and training: to count the time during which we practice sports, the duration of the rest, the calories lost and consumed, the steps taken, the goals achieved, etc. All this data is collected thanks to the ‘wearables’ technologies. This control is done with mobile phones, fit bracelets and/or gym machines that record parameters of physical activity and body response.

But athletes should take into consideration one important idea: ‘my data is not me’. To adecuately gauge a person’s activity level and physical functioning, simple data accumulation is not enough.

For example, taking 10,000 steps in one day may simply be attributable to because the movement undertaken in someone’s profession., such as that of an emergency doctor in a multi-level hospital. It may also be that, on a given day,someone has been alpine hiking throughout the day. Which of the two activities is healthier? The data obtained by 24/7 monitoring offers the information but does not say why the data appears so. We have information but no knowledge.

Not everyone is prepared to understand the information offered by wearable gadgets. This is why the figure of a personal trainer is fundamental. Qualified professionals should be the educational reference point with respect to establishing the best set of physiological and activity parameters. They should teach users and athletes what indicators and what values should be taken into account to improve their quality of life. The personal trainer can set goals (e.g. calories / day, kilometers, etc.) that together with his/her client will continue to see progress along with changing habits.

The heart rate of the athlete, the calories he/she consumes, how much he/she runs in terms of steps or kilometers/day or the quality of his/her rest, for example, are very useful data. Based on these a personal trainer can much better plan workouts and work sessions.

Wearable Technology brings a lot of information to personal trainers. This information can be used to establish training intensities, determine workloads, or establish long-term and daily goals. For this reason, it is important that the personal trainer be sufficiently trained in data interpretation for the benefit of clients.

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