Today’s digital economy is fast paced and highly competitive. It’s an environment that lends itself to stress and unhealthy habits, as we struggle to meet the demands of modern everyday life. As such, it’s very easy to lose sight of what needs to be done to stay healthy and operating at peak efficiency. This is a problem for the employees whose health is at risk, as well as for the companies they work for.

It’s an expensive problem, too. The National Institutes of Health estimated that by 2011, employers were already losing approximately $260 billion every year due to health-related productivity issues and absenteeism. To combat the problem, nearly 90% of employers now provide wellness incentives for their employees as a way to encourage better health habits.

Ultimately though, it’s up to the individual to do what’s necessary to get and stay healthy. The good news is that they now have new technologies on their side to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. It’s an area where the internet and big data have enabled a whole range of assistive health aids that make staying on top of fitness concerns easier than ever before. Here are the most important ways that technology is transforming the personal fitness space.

Wearables and Mobile Apps

Over the last several years, wearable fitness trackers have gained popularity worldwide. Estimates indicate that the market for these devices will be worth $5.8 billion per year by 2018. The spread of the technology indicates a large and growing share of the population is trying to take a more critical look at their fitness habits.

Active use of a fitness tracker enables the wearer to set specific goals such as their number of active hours or the number of steps they take in a day. The data is often paired with purpose-built mobile apps, too. For example, Jawbone’s UP wearable uses the data gleaned from the user’s activity to produce customized fitness recommendations and advice to help the user meet their activity goals. Users can even challenge friends to competitions based on activity statistics.

Online Fitness Training

The internet has also started to remove another primary fitness obstacle – access to fitness training. Since not everyone has time to visit a trainer at a gym, many are turning to the internet to learn how to stay in shape. The growing availability of online fitness trainers has gotten more people than ever into a regular fitness routine.

International actor and fitness trainer David Michigan says that “I’ve acquired nearly 90% of my current customer base online, and haven’t met them in person. I’m able to give them the targeted training they need in a way that fits into their schedule and increases the chances that they will stick with the program.” The format of the training is even preferable for those that wouldn’t be comfortable going to a gym, even if they lived next door to one.

Big Data and Predictive Analytics

In yet another example of the boundless applications of big data tools, fitness vendors and the healthcare industry are making large investments to deploy predictive wellness applications. The technology is so effective that companies like TriDot have already started marketing it to triathletes, who must stay in peak physical condition. Others, such as FitTrace, cater to everyday individuals by tracking and analyzing metrics such as bone density, muscle, and body fat. The information allows the user to tailor their efforts to achieve the maximum fitness benefits.

Fitness Technology Convergence

So far, we’ve only scratched the surface of the ways that technology will assist us in staying healthier and more physically fit. As we move into the future, the data generated by wearables will be combined with advanced artificial intelligence to revolutionize the personal fitness industry. It won’t be long until a completely personalized and specific wellness plan will be within easy reach of anyone that wants it. That’s a reason for everyone to cheer, and for businesses everywhere to breathe a big sigh of relief.

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