Harvard Health Publications

Wellocracy aims to help trackers choose and use health apps and devices

Posted By Patrick J. Skerrett On October 25, 2013

There’s something satisfying about getting immediate feedback about exercise, sleep, and other activities. That’s why more and more people are joining the “quantified-self” movement. It involves formal tracking of health and habits, usually using apps and devices that feed data to them—from heart rate, activity, and sleep monitors to Bluetooth connected scales. I haven’t yet become a full-fledged member, partly because having so many apps and connected devices on the market makes it hard to decide which ones are worth trying.

I’m hoping that Wellocracy will help. This website, launched by the Harvard-affiliated Center for Connected Health, aims to give people like me impartial information about fitness trackers, mobile health apps, and other self-help technologies.

Wellocracy lists dozens of sleep trackers, wearable activity trackers, mobile running apps, and mobile pedometer apps, each with a mini-review and a “what we wish it had” listing. The site lets you compare apps and devices in each of the four categories. The compare feature isn’t yet as helpful as those from Consumer Health Reports, but that may be coming.

The site also provides a guide for beginners like me, and offers tips for adding activity “bursts” throughout the day.

“There are millions of people struggling to eat well, exercise, manage a chronic disease or decrease other health risks. Wellocracy will help them select and use digital health tools, understand their individual motivations, and make incremental lifestyle changes that can easily be incorporated into busy schedules,” said Wellocracy founder, Dr. Joseph C. Kvedar, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

One theme the site promotes is “stickiness.” That means finding motivational strategies, apps, and devices that help you stay on track to achieve your goals. You can calculate your “stickiness factor” on the website.

Maybe the information on Wellocracy is enough to nudge me from contemplation to action.

Related Information: Exercise: A program you can live with

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