Technology has been slowly taking over almost every part of our lives over the last century and exercise is certainly no exception. Entire University degrees and jobs are dedicated to sport science and technology, particularly the elite level has progressed leaps and bounds in categories such as injury prevention, injury rehabilitation, load management and data collection just to name a few.
The most common form of technology for the average athlete/weekend warrior is the smart watch/phones, loaded with apps tracking and measuring all sorts of physiological and geographical data.
Pros on using Technology –
- More efficient training – being able to see and adhere to heart rate or effort based training is conveniently located on your wrist
- Accurately tracking distances, elevations for a more precise training
- You can make your data as simple or as complex as you like, tailoring it to your understanding
- Life saving ?? – By tracking your pulse and oxygen stats there are stories of watches alerting the owner of a potential medical episode (heart attack for example) before the signs and symptoms take effect.
- In an extension of that, they can be installed with apps to call 000 in the event of a high velocity crash (mountain bike riding) in case of severe injury and non responsiveness
- Diabetes – smart devices have the ability to track blood sugar levels whilst exercising to enable the person to correct it with lollies and fruit drinks.
- Alert the athlete to high stress levels and encourage them to break and take some slow deep breaths.
Cons on using Technology –
- Social pressures – seeing all your friends running further and faster, improving at a faster rate than yourself can cause some anxiety and feel the need to train and train and train, trying to chase numbers that may not be feasible, risking injury and illness from body stress.
- Cost – not everyone can afford to wear up to $1,000 on their wrist
- Not all sports allow you to wear a wrist watch
- Potential for injury? – If the watch is worn in a social sport where contact can happen finger injuries are a possibility if it gets tangled in the band.
- Do you really need one?
Has there been downsides to greater technology as well? Potentially; indirectly social media as a form of technology has been a great detriment to the mental health of many athletes at the elite level, although is still present even at local level; Have you ever just scrolled through all the negative comments about a team or player, some are very personal and aggressive?
Data collection might be fantastic for a team analysis but can also leave a sports person who had a ‘bad day’ exposed by the coaches, teammates, then into the media and the general public, whereas previously this wouldn’t have happened.