Monitoring your own health - Initial thoughts using Helo

I've pretty much always been interested in health... This was probably because as a keen table tennis player I didn't want to compromise my ability through health issues.

I am also a firm believer that we are a product of what we eat. Bearing in mind that our body replaces most of itself every 8 months or so... the new cells will have to be nourished from the food we eat. If we put rubbish in, then we are more likely to get rubbish out. No guarantees though... life is not like that!

So I shop from the market and local producers, I buy fresh produce (organic as much as I can) and cook all my own food... I don't use Supermarkets haven't since 30th September 2013 (4 year anniversary soon)... I believe in the concept... everything in moderation and try and use what is in season.

Sensors on the back of the device
Being a computer guy... I have been waiting for those with the backing and technology to come up with devices that can begin to provide us with the ability to monitor our vital signs. To be honest we are all steering our ship (our bodies) without a rudder. We have no real idea of what is going on inside except our general feeling of wellness or otherwise and being as when we get something major it is like as not the first time for us, we really aren't that sure what to do.

Early devices such as the Fit Bit started the trend and have been amazingly successful. People are interested in how far they walk each day, and how well they have slept. These early devices awakened us to the potential for us to take a little more responsibility for our own health... even if just to increase our activity levels by walking 5,000 steps a day!

So I decided to get a Helo device. What attracted me to this device was not only the current monitoring offerings but that the device has carefully engineered to be able to have firmware upgrades that will expand the functionality. Right now the Helo monitors...

  • Steps
  • Breathing Rate
  • Heart Rate
  • Blood Pressure
  • Mood / Energy
  • Sleep
But soon (4th quarter of 2017) they intend to add Blood Sugar Level monitoring. This will be a fabulous addition for those that are testing themselves using Glucose strips... the ability to keep an eye on things without the constant need to draw blood and the simplicity of just wearing a device on the wrist.

The device obtains regular firmware upgrades and the Heka mobile app links then together through Bluetooth. There is also an SOS button when pressed twice will send a message with the Helo's current location to a nominated mobile number and email.

Accuracy of these devices


There is a concern that these devices can't possibly provide an accurate measurement. For one, if you are waving your arms around then the reading will be flawed. If the device isn't correctly fitted onto the wrist the results might be strange.

To be absolutely honest I have had weird results whilst in the car and I think it is to do with the vibration through the gearbox. The device isn't going to be 100%, there are going to be odd results... but you can easily discount them when you look for a plausible explanation.

Becoming interested in the trends


One of the most fascination things about these devices is that you do start to analyse why the results are what they are. What was I doing when my heart rate went up? ... If you are doing exercise how quickly did the heart rate return to resting levels?

You can run an instant test on the device at any time. So although I have got the regular monitoring set to every 30 minutes... I can supplement that with heart rate checks before, during, and after exercise to see how I am being affected.

I know someone who's heart rate accelerates every time they go into the office, but instantly drops when it is time to go home... my heart rate appears to increase during the afternoon, but then drops back around 6pm... once you start getting this information it is very addictive but more than that, you realise that for the first time you are now getting real time information about this ship you're steering... and... how it behaves in different situations and circumstances.

When my phone went on the blip

This information (if you want it too) can lead to positive lifestyle adjustments to alter the results, that's no bad thing. If drinking alcohol raises your blood pressure, you might want to take a look at that... If your heart rate goes to very high levels during exercise, you might want to ease off a bit and work on other aspects first... Looking forward to talking about this with other Helo users as they come on board... I am sure there will be some fascinating discussions and sharing of things people have tried and the results they have experienced.

What happens quite naturally and gradually is you begin to take more responsibility for your well being and become far more proactive in all sorts of areas of your life... from eating to exercise... and even who you are hanging out with... that matters a lot by the way!

My phone went out of action for a few weeks and although I had only been using the Helo for 1 month, to suddenly be deprived of these regular measurements was awful... it really was like driving a car with blindfolds on!

Taking responsibility


If you are anything like me, when I start a new regime of any description it always helps me to focus on what I'm doing if I get a new piece of equipment to support my endeavours. I think it adds to the excitement using something new to help create new habits whether it be exercise equipment or in this case to monitor your vital signs.

The Helo has definitely helped. In my case the vital signs are all fairly on track and that is good to know. I haven't had to go along to the doctor and be poked and prodded. This doesn't replace the doctor for sure but... if I feel ok... and the vital sign measurements are supporting that then I'm good with that.

With the baby boomer generation now all 50+ there is going to be huge upward pressure on the NHS in the coming years. If we all started to take a lot more interest in our own health and well being and create a kind of self help supporting community (we are starting this in South West Herts it is called the SWHertsPHS - People's Health Service) ... then perhaps we can not only live healthier and happier lives, but more of those later years we'll be healthy enough to enjoy them to the max! ... The Helo and other such devices is a big step in the right direction to support and encourage this! ... go get one is my advice!

Practical things


The Helo recharges in a couple of hours... and probably because I don't do a lot of spontaneous testing the device once charged lasts between 4 and 5 days between charges.

You can also hook up these devices and monitor other wearers. This is great for elderly parents... I am just about to hook one up for my mother... getting that extra visibility is going to be hugely useful as her care levels increase in the future.

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