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Dubai: Stress is all over right now isn’t it? We live in a world now where the dreaded expression “new normal” is a way of making a bad situation sound not so bad. Basically, we’ve adapted to a new daily lifestyle and way of working which can raise our stress levels and affect our overall health.

Stress has begun to take its toll on people and UAE residents are no exception; the UAE leadership is taking steps to address the negative impact of the global health crisis on mental health by launching the National Programme for Happiness and Well-being as part of the initiative to people struggling with loneliness and other mental health problems.

While there are multiple ways to stay stress free, adopting an active lifestyle is a good way to keep your stress levels low and is recommended by many health practitioners around the world. One of the best ways for me to be healthy and active is to track everything. I know it sounds a bit obsessive, but ever since I’ve started tracking my movement, my sleep and the calories I consume and burn, it has made me more in tune with my body and more able to focus on myself and stress out less about the turbulence out there in the world.

I do this wearable technology and through apps. Wearable tech has drastically evolved over the years and has become a major tech segment, fitness trackers and smartwatches have now become an important part of many people’s daily lives. I once wore my fitness tracker to a wedding. Felt like no big deal.

Fitness trackers are no longer just a device used to count the daily goal of 10,000 steps, with advanced health features such as guided breathing sessions, goal-based exercises, active zone minutes, heart rate, sleep tracking and sleep score; they not only help us understand our bodies better but also keeps us healthy both physically and mentally.

Even during the current situation, there are several ways to benefit from fitness trackers while adhering to the new normal. According to recent studies, wearable devices not only contribute to our mental, physical, and emotional wellness but they also hold data that can reveal COVID-19 symptoms days before you even realize you’re sick which can help with real time tracking of illness, prevention and treatment.

Vincent Lamoureux

Gulf News speaks with Vincent Lamoureux, the Regional Sales Director at Fitbit in the Middle East and Africa, who tells us about the top four features that can help you make best use of your fitness trackers and manage stress during challenging.

Take advantage of the guided breathing sessions

Breathing has a massive effect on your stress-levels and vice versa. When you’re stressed, your breathing speeds up and becomes shallower – in fact, taking too many deep breaths too quickly can cause you to hyperventilate. Luckily, it works the other way too. When you slow your breathing down and make it deeper, you’ll start feeling calmer. A lot of wearables are now available with on-device guided breathing sessions. On-device breathing experiences helps you find moments of calm with a personalized guided breathing session based on your heart rate and determine a comfortable breathing rate for you.

Goal based exercises

Wearable devices also allow you to set goal-based exercises which can guide you to achieve measurable, attainable and specific results according to biostatistics of your body updated on your device through smartphone apps. These goal-based exercises will not only help you get the most out of your workout but they also provide timely alerts to keep you engaged and maintain high energy levels, promote restful sleep, and boost your overall mood.

Track your daily steps/activity

Tracking your steps and activity levels shouldn’t be a source of stress. Fitness trackers can alert you every hour to complete 250 steps and this is customizable too. They count total number of steps taken every day and provide data which helps you measure your goal and even achieve desired results. Walking as an exercise has been one of the biggest contributors to reduce stress-related conditions including type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol etc. While walking, your body calms your nervous system, deepens the breathing which relaxes tension, a proven solution to relieve stress. There are easy ways to engage yourself into walking while at home or the office. Consider walking around in your office or hall while on a phone call with colleagues or family and friends; this will add some extra steps to your hourly target of 250 steps. Wearables have also introduced Active Zone Minutes to track your activity levels. Active Zone Minutes is a personalized heart rate metric that tracks your physical activity beyond steps to help you move efficiently every day and improve your overall health. Active Zone Minutes is based on recommendations from leading health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association, who recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, which has been linked to better overall health and well-being, disease prevention, improved cognitive function, less anxiety and better sleep.

Sleeping patterns

With everything that’s going on, fitness trackers can help you adapt healthy sleeping habits. By allowing you to discover your own sleep stats, you can access personalized tips for improving your sleep quality. Some of the tips to support and change your sleeping pattern include creating a sleeping schedule, avoid checking work emails late at night as this can cause stress before bedtime, dim the lights of the room as it’ll signal to your body that it’s no longer day and it should start preparing for sleep. Daytime exercise helps you get better sleep through the night because it improves your mood and fosters a sense of self-esteem, as well as reduces fatigue and stress.