Part 3: What’s Your Story? Health and Well-Being

Ah, the new year always compels people to make resolutions, and it is well known that one of the most common resolutions Americans have is to lose weight and/or get fit for the year. Like many others out there, I too aspire to be healthier this year by exercising more and eating healthier meals. As much as I love instant ramen, I really need to cut down on it, because at my age, I shouldn’t be relying on that as my go to dinner on weeknights.

In addition to working on my resolutions, critical legislations within the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) kicks into full gear this year  Healthcare has been on everyone’s minds as the healthcare landscape goes through drastic changes. We have drugstores (CVS) partnering with hospitals to become “wellness centers,” the Obama administration working with the big tech companies to facilitate healthcare reform, and healthcare start ups popping up left and right. The latest thing I’ve heard? An app that will allow you to discretely send a picture of your genitals to a dermatologist to see if you’ve caught an STD.

Amidst all of the talk about healthcare, health metrics have caught my interest. In the past year and a half, I’ve been exposed to a lot of health applications that measures and manages the user’s health. Behavioral change technology influenced by the Quantified Self movement are everywhere. One of the most prevalent types of applications you will see on the iTunes app store in the health and fitness category are fitness tracker applications. Tracking your calories intake and expenses are nothing new, but the extent of tracking one’s activity has gone to a whole new level with today’s technology to accurately and discretely track one’s movement through the day.

But what does all this tracking mean? What do these trackers say about health? Do these numbers mean anything? If so, what do they mean? How do these numbers and percentages construct the story of a person’s health?

In the next few months, Local Narratives will be exploring the idea of health and it relations to fitness technology. Specifically, how people interpret and incorporate health metrics into their lives will be explored. Out of curiosity, I have recently purchased a FitBit and will be using one myself to document my experience with a fitness tracker. In addition, a study will be conducted to understand why and how other people are using fitness trackers.

We are at the beginning of a new era of healthcare. The government is changing their approach on healthcare. The insurance companies and healthcare industry are changing how they manage healthcare. So, how will the everyday individual change their personal narratives and perceptions on their health? Hopefully, this exploratory effort will give us some clues to how to start answering this question.


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