The Upside of Tech: How Technology Can Help Delawareans Live Better

Not all technology is bad for us. Here are a few examples of how staying connected can be healthy.

With more than 13,000 health and fitness applications and cutting-edge app-enabled health and fitness devices available online, technology can pack a fairly powerful punch when it comes to our health and well-being.

And, of course, technology offers us the ability to text a quick reminder to a colleague, stay on schedule via mobile calendars, and share our stories via social media. Use it wisely and it can make you a healthier, well-rounded socially connected person.

App-enabled devices that allow people to track their fitness progress and improve their health are plentiful. Such devices allow people to monitor their heart rate, blood glucose levels, blood pressure and even sleep patterns. These high-tech gadgets also allow users to monitor fundamental aspects of exercising, such as cycling speed and steps taken during a walk.

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“Technology can be quite useful for health-minded people and those looking to improve their health,” says Dr. Stephen Kushner, D.O., president of the Medical Society of Delaware and family physician at Hockessin Family Medicine. “Many people are currently using their mobile devices to count calories and to remind them to take their medicine on a daily basis.”

Reminders don’t stop there, though. Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services partnered with Gov. Jack Markell’s office and the YMCA of Delaware in a “31 Days to a Healthier You” campaign. Expected to extend through 2013, the campaign was designed to remind Delawareans of the importance of being physically fit, eating right and forming healthy habits. The tool used to share this information? Social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, flickr, Instagram and YouTube.

“The campaign was designed to share information as to how to get and stay healthy,” says Gabriel Phillips, director of new media at the YMCA of Delaware. “And social media kept it fresh in people’s minds.”

When he walks through the fitness center of one of Delaware’s six YMCA branches, Phillips sees almost everyone with an iPod or a smartphone. People are using technology in the gym to help make exercise fun, Phillips explains. And, to add to the fun, the YMCA will be introducing a fitness app this year that will serve as a personal trainer for its members.

When they achieve success, those health-conscious, tech-savvy people can share it via social media. “We can use technology to motivate as well as applaud ourselves and each other for our success,” Phillips says. And, in doing so, we are actually enhancing our interpersonal relationships.

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“Socially, adults can use technology to reach out to their friends and family and to meet new people,” says Mike Considine, Psy.D., a therapist at Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health in Newark. “People are so busy that they find it hard to build new relationships.”

Technology can also allow us to foster our existing relationships. Sending a quick text to tell a loved one you are thinking about them is a simple thing to do, yet it can mean so much. Considine deems that one of technology’s most endearing attributes.

In addition, social media can bring individuals together who share the same health goals or who have the same health concerns. Facebook and other venues are excellent tools to find and join support groups, says Michael Peterson, Ed.D., a professor at the University of Delaware and chairman of the university’s department of behavioral health and nutrition.

Technology can help us learn about health issues and find the support we need to overcome and cope with them. It can help us become fit and stay healthy. And it can help us connect socially. Just remember, the same mantra applies to technology as it does to those cookies stored in your pantry: Everything in moderation.

Click here to find out what texting, emailing and social media are doing to your health—and how to prevent it.

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