TIPS TO LIVE BY

Health Gadgets Worth the Hype

Dec. 4, 2020 - Katie McCallum

I’m a gadget gal. As in, if there’s a gadget for it, I either want it or already own it.

When it comes to health gadgets in particular, though, finding a worthwhile one can be tricky. Like supplements, health gadgets aren’t FDA-approved or regulated — so it’s hard to know if the health claims are actually true.

Still, there are some good ones out there, in my opinion. Below are some health gadgets that I’ve come to rely on and would definitely consider worth the hype (and hefty price tag, in some cases).

Fitness trackers

My first fitness tracker was pretty basic. It just counted my steps. But even something that simple had the power to get me moving. It tapped into my competitive side. Some evenings I’d even pace around my apartment so I could hit my challenge of 10,000 steps a day.

Nowadays, my smartwatch doubles as my fitness tracker and gives me in-depth insights about my health. It measures my physical activity and exercise, calories burned, heart rate while resting or exercising, how often I get up and move, sleep quality and more.

Staying healthy means staying active, and sometimes I need an extra oomph to get up and move. I can’t tell you how often I look down at my fitness tracker and realize I’m nowhere close to hitting my activity goal. It inspires me to stand up and get moving  and I always feel better afterwards.

Cooking appliances that make eating healthy easier

Admittedly, cooking appliances aren’t technically considered “health gadgets” — but the ones that help us eat healthier probably should be. Here are a few kitchen gadgets that I think have helped me to stay on track when it comes to eating healthy.

Air fryers

I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I use my air fryer every single night. It's the only kitchen appliance that stays out on my countertop (aside from my coffee maker).

Whether cooking veggies or protein, an air fryer accomplishes the best parts of frying — crispy outside with a tender and moist inside — without having to submerge your food in oil. In fact, I never need more than a tablespoon of oil while using my air fryer.

I use my air fryer to make dishes like panko-crusted chicken tenders and steak fries, but it's also excellent for just simply roasting vegetables, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and zucchini.

Pressure cookers

Using a pressure cooker can be a little daunting at first, but the benefit is that it cooks dishes that should take hours in way less time than in the oven or on the stove.

Pressure cookers are also set-and-forget. This means that once I press START, I can spend the next 30 minutes doing literally anything other than standing over my stove — whether that's laundry or a quick workout. Plus, I can usually make an entire meal in one pot, which means easier cleanup.

I use my pressure cooker to make everything from simple dinners like chicken and vegetables, to everyday staples like oatmeal and yogurt, and even fancier dishes like mushroom risotto.

Smoothie makers

I work out in the morning, so smoothies serve as my post-workout recovery snack and my breakfast.

The thing about smoothies, though, is that making them at home is significantly cheaper (and usually healthier) than buying them from a smoothie bar.

To make my favorite breakfast smoothie, I toss Greek yogurt, frozen banana slices, peanut butter, vanilla and unsweetened almond milk into my smoothie maker. I also try to sneak in a handful of leafy greens, like kale or spinach (you can’t actually taste the veggies —  I promise).

Why not just use a blender? I've found that smoothie makers pulverize ice and frozen fruit much more effectively, making a smoothie that comes out perfectly, well, smooth. 

Air purifiers

I have asthma, and it flares up from time to time — especially after getting sick. A few years ago I bought an air purifier to use in my bedroom to help lessen my symptoms.

Air purifiers filter the air circulating in a room, removing particles that can irritate the lungs. Whether its dust, pet dander, germs or odors, my air purifier helps reduce the allergens floating around my room.

The caveat here, though, is that air purifiers are expensive — and then there's the added cost of replacing the filter every few months, which you have to keep up with to actually reap the benefits of the device.

Given the cost, an air purifier might only be worth it if you have bad allergies or asthma. And, if you do decide one might be right for you, I recommend doing your research before purchasing making a purchase — not all air purifiers are not all created equal.

Hydration-tracking water bottles

I was a horrible water drinker growing up. Some days I probably only drank a glass or two. (Coincidentally, I got headaches — a lot.)

It took me understanding how much water I really need, and the consequences of not getting enough of it, for me to realize that I had to do better. But aside from just not really liking water, I realized my biggest struggle was remembering to drink it.

So, I bought a hydration-tracking water bottle and made a point to carry it around with me all day long, which ended up helping me form some long-lasting healthy hydration habits. With a twistable ticker on the lid, my bottle was a constant reminder of my hydration progress.

Hydration-tracking water bottles have come a long way since I first used one, and now some even connect to your smart phone and send you alerts when you’re behind drinking your quota.

Electric toothbrushes

I never really thought twice about my electric toothbrush — until I left it behind in a hotel room while on a road trip.

The case I’ll make for the electric toothbrush is that it makes your teeth feel so clean. So much so that I couldn’t even make it through the rest of my vacation using a regular toothbrush. It was only few days before I made us stop at a store so I could buy a replacement.

The real reason to use an electric toothbrush, however, is that they're backed by dentists. The Cochrane Review, the gold standard among dentists, gives electric toothbrushes a definite advantage over regular, manual toothbrushes — in part since electric toothbrushes take some of the guesswork out of tooth brushing.

TytoCare telehealth exam kit

I was already a fan of telehealth before the pandemic, but now I've really come to appreciate having easy, convenient access to my doctors.

While I haven't used this gadget myself just yet, TytoCare is a device that records your health vitals and shares them with your telehealth provider — making virtual visits even more productive and convenient.

TytoCare is a small and portable device that, aided by a few attachments inside the kit, can:

  • Take your temperature
  • Examine your ears
  • Assess your breathing
  • Check for sore throat
  • Take pictures of rashes, bug bites and other skin lesions

With this device, you can perform your own physical examination and share the information and data right then and there with your telehealth provider. And it's compatible with Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent Care.

Whether you're shopping for yourself, someone's birthday, the holidays or just happen to stumble on a good sale, look out for these healthy gadgets. They may be just what you or your loved ones need to get healthy and stay healthy.

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