Give Your Doctor the Bigger Picture with Activity Tracking

Using a fitness tracker can be a great way to further your exercise journey. Whether monitoring your progress or serving as a simple reminder to be more active, trackers can help you reach your fitness goals. Today, this wearable technology is even providing assistance to an unexpected community: cancer patients.

Providing doctors a bigger picture

One of the most notable features of wearable technology is the ability to monitor health statistics. This is now being put to use by medical professionals, providing doctors a more detailed look at their patient’s health. This idea was pioneered by the team at USC with the Analytical Technologies to Objectively Measure Human Performance (ATOM-HP) project as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.

Having this data available to physicians can be important since patients may not recall every notable concern from the time in between their doctors visits. As one of the researchers from ATOM-HP noted, there are about 30,000 minutes in between visits. Traditionally, doctors are reliant on a patient’s memory, but given the significant length of time between appointments, patients may not be able to supply enough detail. Data from fitness trackers can help fill in the gaps, giving doctors more information to better treat patients and manage any potential side effects.

Encouraging exercise

When it comes to activity trackers, incentivizing a more active lifestyle is a primary goal, even for cancer patients. Previously, prioritizing rest was thought to be best for those undergoing treatment or recovering from cancer. However, the American Cancer Society actually recommends that patients engage in exercise to maintain muscle strength, improve blood flow, lower the risk of heart disease, and maintain overall health, amongst other benefits.

Wearable technology can help to promote this activity in several ways. The most obvious is not reliant on the actual technology of the device, but rather the visual reminder that wearing a fitness tracker provides. For some, seeing the device on their wrists gives an extra dose of motivation to exercise. When that isn’t enough, patients can use the Garmin Connect app to receive insights on their activity, or rely on features like the Move Bar with cues to move throughout the day and vibration alerts.

Of course, cancer patients may need an abbreviated exercise routine and should consult with their doctor to make sure they’re ready for certain physical activity.

The overall impact

Scientists believe this new research can spur not only better care, but also advancements in treatment. And for cancer patients looking for hope, any new developments in treatment matter. This is especially true for those with highly aggressive or rare cancers, like mesothelioma, as current treatment options are usually severely limited, resulting in poor prognoses and short life expectancy. Technology that can help track a patient’s cancer journey in real time, potentially leading to improvements in quality of life and a better understanding of treatment plans, is invaluable for both oncologists and the patients themselves.