This article is part of Tools of the Trade, a weekly series in which a variety of experts share actionable tips for achieving fast and effective results on everything from forming good habits to raising money.
This week Joe Riley, managing director at Psilos, a healthcare venture capital firm, shares digital tools that help keep him active and healthy.
Now that the holiday spreads have been eaten and the New Year’s champagne drunk, it’s time to focus on our resolutions.
If you’ve vowed to exercise more this year, kudos: Taking responsibility for your fitness is vital if you’re going to live to a ripe old age with your brain intact. As an investor in digital therapeutics startups — a category that harnesses behavioral economics, smartphones, game-ification, biometric sensors, data analytics, and artificial intelligence to treat chronic diseases and change behavior — and a fitness freak, I try to stay on top of health-focused digital tools.
Here are four that work for me.
I’m one of millions of buyers of wearable trackers, but unlike a purported 50% of them, I didn’t park mine in a drawer after a few months.
It’s just too much fun. In fact, I’ve made it a game. And a family affair. I bought Fitbits for my wife and my son. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law then purchased,them too. Now we’re all in a social challenge game. Slimming, yes. Fun, yes. Family laughs, yes. Win-win-win.
Starting with the Fitbit, I quickly eclipsed the casual use and it’s rare when I don’t surpass the fitness target of 10,000 steps a day. I got so into it that one day I did 25,000 steps or around 12.5 miles. I won our family contest that day.
I bought a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff and body analysis scale from iHealth, and read the numbers on the corresponding app. I also use the app to set fitness goals,view trends, track progress, log food intake, and collect and share data points such as calories burned, resting and high heart rates, and exercise .
iHealth has also integrated with Evernote so my personal health information, such as blood pressure and body composition, can be stored in Evernote’s cloud and shared with my doctor.
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I also just started using Spire, a health fitness app that acts as a relaxation coach by monitoring stress and working to reduce it. The wearable device clips to my belt and pings me when it detects a consistent breathing pattern of tension and anxiety. By timely delivering deep breathing reminders, Spire stimulates a relaxation response and restores a sense of calm.
Speaking of calm — Headspace, a guided meditation app, is another tool that helps me de-stress. Sessions range from two to 60 minutes. There’s no routine you have to learn, or position you have to take. Instead, you just listen as the app’s calm, sonorous voice guides you through a very simple message to relax. Sometimes, I turn it on in between conference calls and meetings for a quick power de-stress (now isn’t that an oxymoron?).
Disclosures: Neither the writer nor his company are invested in or affiliated with the companies mentioned.