Hi-tech Devices For Self-Monitoring Your Diabetes

Most of us who have diabetes are quite well aware that what and how much we eat, our weight, how much we exercise, and the quality of our sleep affects our blood glucose and blood pressure levels. But, until recently, the precise connections between these factors were clouded in generalities

It would be nice to know the answers to questions such as the following: How much is the bar of chocolate you sneak now and then affecting your glucose level? What effect does a new exercise regime have on your blood pressure? If you have a few restless nights in a row, how is your blood glucose affected? Did losing a few kilograms reduce your average glucose levels?

I’m sure you can think of hundreds of questions where you would find the answers very useful in helping you control your diabetes. It is now possible to find answers for many of these questions using activity tracking.

Activity tracking

Activity tracking is the monitoring and recording of fitness-related metrics such as distance walked or run, calories used up, heart beat etc.

The first activity trackers were plain old pedometers, a small device you wear on a belt around your waist that measures the number of steps you take when you are walking. It works by counting the vibrations caused by your footsteps. I have found pedometers useful and have used one to judge the exercise value (number of paces) of the regular routes I take on my daily walks.

Electronic activity trackers are upgraded pedometers with lots of added features. As well as counting steps, they can calculate distance, overall physical activity, and calorie expenditure. Some trackers can also record your heart rate and the quality of your sleep.

The first activity trackers were worn on the waist. The latest trackers come in the form of armbands and wristbands, as well as small devices that can be worn wherever you want. Some trainers and runners even have built-in sensors that can export data wirelessly to a website, smartphone or computer.

The latest activity trackers can be linked either by cable or wirelessly to a computer or smartphone for long-term data building. The most sophisticated systems have facilities that enable you to input your blood glucose readings and details of what you have eaten, along with your blood pressure figures, in order to bring all the interrelated data together into a single information system.

Glucose and food

Naturally, being diabetic, you check your blood glucose when you awake in the morning and two hours after each meal. You can record these on paper, in a computer using a spreadsheet or you can enter them into your smartphone or activity tracker. There are also some glucose monitoring systems where the tester you use stores your glucose data in the cloud, which reduces the space taken up in your smartphone.

Recording what you have eaten and comparing it with your after-meal glucose readings can give you a valuable insight into how the food you eat affects your blood sugar levels. There are several computer programs, apps for your smartphone and websites for doing this. These calculate the calories in what you eat and show how particular foods are affecting your after-meal glucose levels.

You can also use data from activity trackers that calculate calorie expenditure to compare the calories you eat with the calories you burn. All this data, glucose readings, food eaten, calories ingested and calories burned can be linked to your weight gain or loss, which enables you to see exactly what you are doing right and where you are going wrong.


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