New Exercise Technology May Help Solve Looming Health Care Crisis

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It has been widely documented that regular exercise, performed in the right formats, can reduce most deadly diseases and conditions, in many cases by as much as 30%. If employers could get their employees to exercise regularly, it would save billions of dollars annually in health insurance, medical fees and lost time. But the challenge is motivating people while not creating yet another blizzard of paperwork to document the completion of exercise sessions. MYTRAK HealthTM has a new exercise motivation, data collection, and reporting technology that automates the entire process. The company will be rolling out networks of professional exercise providers across Canada and the U.S. in partnerships with major health care providers and corporations.

Wilma Bailey of Toronto wanted to get back in shape but, like many working mothers, found the time juggling act a challenge. "I'm a working mother, so I'm very busy. I have 2 boys, 11 and 9, and I work full time and have a husband that works crazy hours, but fitness is something that I knew I had to do for myself, " said Bailey.

Bailey solved the time problem by joining a 30-minute circuit fitness club where she could get regular exercise into her life without too much time away from the family. "I wanted to slim down, increase my energy level and just feel better again." So she joined the local "WOW for Women" club near her home where she gets an intense workout on their hydraulic circuit system where she is prompted to push harder by a computerized coach called MyTrak.

Boomers Are Shifting the Health Club Demographics

The typical health club demographic is shifting. It's no longer the "fit" segment of twenty or thirty-something's

looking for more and more complicated exercise machines to gain an edge in body building or sports performance. This fit market is being rapidly eclipsed by the deconditioned market that needs to exercise for improved health and not narcissistic reasons. The overweight and out-of-shape are being urged to exercise by their employers to put a lid on exploding health care costs which has been rising at 19% per year.

The principal target consists of boomers, that ultra large age band of the 41-59 year-olds which represent 78 million Americans and another 10 million Canadians. However, getting this group to exercise regularly and at an appropriate level of exertion to derive benefit has been a challenge to both employers and health insurers alike.

That's why Patti Caldwell, a 25-year fitness industry veteran and owner of WOW for Women in Toronto, installed MyTrak to keep her members motivated to workout in their optimal fitness zone. MyTrak is a computerized system in her club that automatically monitors and records every exercise movement by the member and also communicates back, real-time, how hard they have to push themselves to achieve their session's goals. "I wanted to create the distinction that I cater to the less fit crowd, but I can also cater to marathon runners and serious fitness people".

According to Caldwell, "MyTrak provides personalized training . That is, it personalizes all you can do and it compares it to all your other workouts." She is a firm believer in intense workouts for women to achieve the level of health, wellness, and appearance they seek. "If they have something to work toward that's concrete, they'll work harder to get there."

Major Employers Jumping on Board

Today in the United States, over 65% of adults are overweight or obese. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death. Major depression is the leading cause of disability and chronic back pain is a widespread condition. These conditions reflect the fact that 57% of Americans do not meet recommended guidelines for moderate physical activity.

Exercise has been proven to be an effective preventative against many diseases and conditions ranging from heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and stroke. It also mitigates mental afflictions such as Alzheimer's, dementia, depression, and even anxiety.

But with overwhelming evidence of it's benefits, adherence to a regular exercise program is just not practiced by the vast majority that need it most, the out-of-shape that will have a higher propensity to contract a deadly disease.

The health insurance carriers and large employers are well aware of the benefits of regular exercise and they stand to financially gain the most by its widespread adoption, but the major obstacle seems to be in motivating employees to exercise regularly and stick with the program.

The first wave of incentives by employers was to reimburse employees for their health club memberships. The logic being that the nominal cost of a health club membership across a population can slice the after-the-fact disease treatment costs. But a paid membership doesn't necessarily translate into "sweat".

The second wave of incentives was to offer rewards. After all, if employees won't exercise for a longer healthier life, perhaps they'll exercise for retail items or a trip.

"The challenge with both of these", says Reed Hanoun, President and inventor of MyTrak HealthTM, "Is that you don't know if (a) they ever showed up at gym or (b) even if a card swipe mechanism verifies that they did show up, were they exercising at a level to derive health benefit? After all, it's not that plastic membership card that impedes disease, it's the regular participation of exercise at a precise level of exertion that gives off the benefit. "

The MyTrak Network a New Paradigm

Hanoun has a new vision for the fitness industry. Drawing from his background of collecting biometric data for corporations to assess risk in performing physical labor with employee candidates, he felt the technology has progressed to where certain biometric data could be gathered automatically as people exercise. As enough exercise sessions are completed and enough data is gathered, a composite picture of fitness state emerges both for individuals and for entire population segments.

The MyTrak technology automates the process of coaching, data collection, and reporting. "In the process, we had to develop a whole new standard for measuring exercise performance which was previously missing", said Hanoun, "We created the Performance Index (PI). The PI is completely portable across disparate exercise machines and modalities. It provides an outcome measurement value that includes both strength and cardio activities that can be accessed through the internet and analyzed by the individual exerciser, facility staff, personal trainers, medical experts, insurers, or employers."

The PI is an index that is a measure of a person's fitness state. It is a composite of strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular conditioning. It has been designed to be a vital interface between the biomechanics of exercise that are generated mostly by exercise machines and a meaningful metric for health professionals to use in concert with other vital measurements such as blood pressure, cholesterol level, and the like. The PI adds the hitherto missing data on a person's fitness state to the total health equation.

"But most importantly", added Hanoun, "It's totally automated, our computers can communicate directly to a health provider's or employer's computers and thus relieve the burden of paperwork. That's what will finally allow for health care rebates based on verifiable levels of fitness."

Enter The Third Wave in Exercise Motivation

MyTrak is thus the third wave in exercise motivation. It is a fully automatic objective exercise performance tracking system. The exercisers merely swipe a key tag at the exercise machine and the system immediately calls up their personal records and urges them to exercise in their individualized "zone".

Since the system records every exercise ever performed by that individual, it can summarize trend lines and graphically display the improvements to areas of their body. With permission, this information can be forwarded to the person's employer and/or health insurance carrier for a monetary rebate system.

"For the very first time, the health care system can offer rebates to individuals that exercise religiously because they will finally have an empirically derived validation of exercise achievement. It makes economic sense because it's been proven that regular exercise in a population segment reduces disease occurrence and severity", said Hanoun.

This month MyTrak Health is establishing the first of its kind participating network of exercise providers.

"With our technology, we can upgrade ordinary gyms into truly professional exercise providers. It's important that the industry shed the old image of taking the money and not producing results if they want to gain stature with employers and health insurance carriers", said Hanoun.

In select cities in the U.S. and Canada, MyTrak will be recruiting qualified health clubs and hydraulic circuit clubs to participate in partnership with major health care providers and corporations.

About MyTrak HealthTM

MyTrak HealthTM of Mississauga Canada has developed an advanced automated exercise coaching, data collection, and reporting system that both motivates people to exercise in their optimal zones, and provides metric data for analysis by employers and health insurance companies. The firm has advanced technology that can measure any form of exercise and provide analytic data to employers and health insurers. The company is in the process of establishing a network of participating exercise providers consisting of full service health clubs and express gyms.

Phone 905-812-5799 or visit http://www.mytrakhealth.com/.

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Al Valente
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