by Harry Massey
In the new era of wearables, it’s becoming easier and easier to enhance our overall energy and health, and to see exactly what’s working and what’s not. However, in the early years of having chronic fatigue syndrome, I had no knowledge of simple tools that would have helped with refining habits and therapies. It was that very fact that drove us 17 years ago to create a system that would provide people at home with the information they would need to get their health back. I simply thought, “If I could make such a system, it would both help other people and get my health back, too!” That ended up being the BioEnergetiX WellNES System, which supports good health by detecting what exactly is going on in your body and giving a monthly snapshot of priorities.
But optimizing your Energy for Life goes beyond a monthly plan. Fortunately, there are a number of tools, trackers, and other devices available for everyday use & monitoring. They are small, wearable, connect easily to your mobile devices, and you can take them with you wherever you go. And with the tech and wellness industries thriving, more are being produced all the time! Let’s have a look at some of the key measurements, and how to track them…
The pulse gives us incredible insight into the Cardiovascular system, stress, recovery, activity and sleep. There are a number of pulse trackers from wristbands, to watches, to hearables and even rings. Our article on Aerobic Immunity looked at how you can use low intensity HR training to build up your overall health – this is how I use the apple watch (or equivalent HR monitor).
A decreasing heart rate over time is an excellent indicator of increasing health and cardiovascular fitness. This is especially true when paired with a trend towards higher HRV (heart rate variability). Heart rate variability refers to the normal, healthy irregularities between each heartbeat. For instance, a heart rate of 60 beats per minute does not equate to one beat per second – some beats will be spaced closer together, and some farther apart. The length of time between heart beats can be influenced by a number of factors like overall health, body movement & position, or whether you’re inhaling (heart speeds up) or exhaling (heart slows down). Go ahead and test this out by feeling your pulse as you take a few deep breaths! Contrary to what many people assume, more variability between heartbeats indicates a healthier heart that is able to respond quickly to increasing physical demands.
One of the many benefits of tracking your HRV is that it’s an effective indicator of overtraining. A buildup of stress – both physical and mental – can take its toll on the heart and cause it to beat at more regular intervals. Therefore, a low heart rate variability indicates that the heart is stressed and cannot handle much more. When exercising, your HRV is often the first thing to set off alarm bells indicating when you’re overdoing it. You’ll see a decrease in HRV before other warning signs like acute fatigue or injury. Over time, as you build up cardiovascular health & fitness, you’ll be able to train longer and more intensely before you hit your limit and your HRV starts to drop. You’ll also see an increase in your baseline HRV – the variability between heartbeats when you’re not exerting yourself – which is a great indicator of improved overall health.
That’s all well and good, but… Just how do you track HRV? Well, wearables make that simple! Phone apps like Welltory, for one, work well and don’t require any extra devices or equipment. Welltory and similar apps give an indicator of how well your body battery is performing with regards to stress, energy and productivity. I find it incredibly useful to get a quick sense of which activities are regenerative and which are draining, and have found that long periods of walking, slow bike rides and hyrdrofoiling – all low intensity activities – always give excellent readings (near 100% Energy) for a few hours after the activity, compared to readings often below 50% before the activity.
This doesn’t hold true for intense activities such as HIIT, weight training or long sessions of moderate aerobic activities, which tend to deplete the body’s energy reserves. That can be okay, as long as they’re built back up through adequate rest afterward. However, our strong recommendation for anyone wanting to achieve true, long-lasting health is to focus your efforts on longer and slower exercise. I use the time to think and learn; podcasts & audiobooks make time fly by – and upgrade your brain, too! Within 20 minutes, you’ll be in a meditative state enjoying the quiet time in your busy schedule.
Tracking your pulse with wearables like the Oura ring can also show you how well you’re sleeping. Quality sleep is as essential as exercise, food, water and oxygen. It doesn’t take long without sleep to become seriously ill. For most of us, just an extra hour of sleep each night would dramatically improve our energy levels the next day. Most of use aren’t cognizant of the negative impact of nighttime stimulation (like eating or exercise), that extra cup of coffee in the afternoon, the light outside our bedroom window, or alcohol consumption. Fortunately, awareness leads to advancement!
One crucial measurement to watch using the Oura ring is average nighttime HRV – when it slips a couple of points below your baseline, you know it’s time to spend more time regenerating and doing light activity to help it recover. As it starts to climb, then you know you’re on the right path. If it plateaus for a couple of months, you might want to adapt your habits to get the next gain, perhaps by taking 2 or 3 days each week to slightly increase the intensity of your sustained, lower-intensity activity.
Every wearable tracks activity in one way or another, and can be an extremely useful resource in improving overall health and boosting Aerobic Immunity. It’s amazing how many people own a Fitbit or some other sort of tracker, yet don’t wear it! That’s perfectly fine if you’re already exercising adequately, but if not… Putting it back on will serve as a constant reminder to increase your activity level.
The future of pulse tracking will certainly include a deeper and more sophisticated analysis. After all, the Chinese have been doing pulse analysis for 5,000 years and have found 27 unique pulse patterns corresponding to various states of health. In fact, E4L is currently working to analyze pulse waveforms from your ear in order to gain valuable insights that will help coach you to better health.
Your baseline temperature is a great proxy for metabolism and thyroid function – and major oscillations are a great indicator of adrenal issues, especially when combined with blood pressure.
For most people, a morning temperature reading should be between 98.2°F and 99.4°F – the goal is to stay around 98.7 degrees. However, for many people struggling with metabolism it can be significantly lower. If it’s lower than 98.0°F, you may have an underactive thyroid, which can be helped through optimizing your energy systems through Energy 4 Life Program. Be sure to always ask your Doctor, who may test for thyroid issues, and remember that the body is holistic – meaning the body slowed down your metabolism for a reason, so see this as a useful indicator of overall energy rather than the sole cause of your health problems. If you are on thyroid medication, tracking your temperature provides a considerably easier way to get your dose right, as you can monitor the effects daily rather than wait a month until your next blood test.
Another interesting health indicator is the fluctuation of your morning body temperature. If it’s moving more than 0.2 degrees each day, then you are likely experiencing severe adrenal issues and been pushing yourself too hard. If this is the case, you should set a goal to stabilize your base temperature by employing plenty of regeneration strategies like meditation, massage, feel good Infoceuticals, a miHealth session, walking etc. Similarly, if your temperature is higher than usual, it can indicate the beginning of an immune reaction and your goal should be relaxation.
As you get a sense for how your body temperature relates to how you feel and begin to stabilize it, you won’t need to measure as often. However, it remains an incredibly useful indicator as to what’s going on in your body if you are ever uncertain.
Blood pressure is a great indicator to keep in check – both when it’s too high and, more commonly for people with adrenal fatigue, too low. Generally, if blood pressure is too high (over 130) on a consistent basis, it’s an indicator of cardiovascular issues and high stress. This is most commonly resolved through diet, exercise and stress lowering activities. For those that have adrenal issues such as Addison’s disease, wherein the adrenals barely produce adrenal hormones at all, monitoring low blood pressure is an excellent indication of how effectively the adrenal glands are keeping up with demands and adapting to any supplementation or cortisol.
The ideal blood pressure is around 120; for those that have low blood pressure, 110 may be a more realistic target. If your blood pressure ever drops towards 100 or less, you can:
Increase your salt intake – for instance, I take 1 teaspoon of himalyan salt in a glass of water
Take 4 licorice capsules
Temporarily increase cortisol, if already on it
Ensure you take it easy and do activities that are parasympathetic dominant (meditation, massage, and spending time in nature are all great options)
Overall, blood pressure readings are great as a quick check for dosing and knowing whether or not you’ve been over doing it. You’ll likely be able to tell just by the way you feel, but re-checking your blood pressure a few hours later – after you’ve taken some salt and/or licorice and had some rest – and seeing it go back to normal can be very reassuring. And (bonus!) it will give you the confidence to go for that evening walk you planned and build up your long-term conditioning.
As a general rule of thumb – the idea is not to be always taking supplements and increasing doses. Rather, when your blood pressure is a bit higher, just take a less that day (or none), so it’s more effective when you need it. The body does get used to everything, and even small amounts of healthy stress and recovery builds up your energy over the long term. Supplements are simply there to support you when you need it.
PoTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) is a condition involving chronic low blood pressure that, depending on the severity and symptoms, can either go unnoticed or interfere with the quality of everyday life. While low blood pressure does not always equate to PoTS, the symptoms can help us understand what exactly happens when blood pressure drops and how the body reacts. Low blood pressure, typically measured at less than 90 mmHg, or 110 mmHg in elderly individuals, can impact a variety of the body’s systems and cause things like tiredness, brain fog, nausea, vision and hearing disturbances, syncope (fainting) and presyncope (near-fainting), headaches, palpitations, chest pain, breathlessness, dizziness, head rush, sweating and more.
In many cases, these symptoms can be avoided by drinking plenty of water to fight dehydration, taking smaller meals throughout the day and limiting alcohol.
A daily necessity for diabetics and an interesting measurement for serious health seekers; tracking blood sugar can lead us to understand our relationship with food, what causes spikes and how long to exercise to bring it back down. If you just want to see what your fasting blood sugar is each morning as a baseline, you can do a simple finger prick test at home. If it is 99 or below, you’re likely doing just fine and don’t need to look too much deeper.
If you want to know exactly what’s spiking your blood sugar and know your levels on a 24-hour basis, continuous blood sugar monitors are a great option. These can be worn for weeks at a time, connect to your phone via Bluetooth, and show your blood sugar levels in real time. However, if constantly testing your blood sugar makes you overly anxious, it may be a better option to get a sense of where your blood sugar is, adjust your food and exercise, and continue monitoring at regular intervals over time. In most cases, the advice for controlling and stabilizing blood sugar will be the same and you’ll follow a protocol closely resembling our blood sugar recommendations.
As we can clearly see, wearables provide countless health benefits and are becoming more advanced by the day. Wearable technologies like continuous glucose monitors make it easier than ever to manage chronic diseases at an affordable cost, and the gamification of many personal fitness & health devices ensures that the encouragement and motivation will never run out. Using Fitbit, for instance, you can use your daily step count to take hikes in Yellowstone and complete marathons in NYC, all right from your neighborhood – and you’ll be rewarded with medals and scenic photos at certain progress points along the way. Not only do wearables provide valuable information that will guide you on your journey to optimizing your Energy for Life, but they also make the journey a fun and engaging one. You’ll constantly learn about your own body and how to best optimize your health, and your awareness of healthy habits will increase with reminders to move and drink water throughout the day and go to bed on time.
Looking beyond the personal benefits you’ll experience, your data (if you choose to share it) has the potential to be used in research studies and trials in order to develop better and more effective treatments, pushing medical science forward each and every day. Your doctor may even be able to use the data collected by your wearable device(s) to get a better idea of your overall health, and to discuss treatment options with you. And with the wearable health technology industry still in its infancy, the future truly has limitless potential.