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1. At-home tests
Don't want to go to the lab or clinic to wait an hour for a test? Do it at home! New diagnosis tools allow you to test for everything from celiac disease (GlutenPro Celiacsure detects antibodies in 10 minutes using a blood sample from your fingertip) to cancer (Eclipse Breast Health Technologies is working on the first hand-held digital breast-exam device to track changes in breast tissue). And moms everywhere will be excited about the Smart Thermometer from Kinsa, which should be approved for use in Canada later this year. It plugs into your smartphone, allowing you to track symptoms, share info with your child's doctor and even see if other kids in their school are experiencing similar symptoms.
2. On-the-go fitness
Canadians are getting busier every year, and many struggle to fit exercise into their schedules. Luckily, the latest fitness fad will get you moving no matter what you're doing. Wii Fit used to just offer fun workouts and games (think yoga, balance activities and dance) for when you're in front of a TV screen. Now it actually travels with you using the Fit Meter, a device that tracks steps and calories and allows you to engage in real-life games, such as a walking challenge with friends. Meanwhile, the new Nike+ FuelBand SE lets you set activity goals and encourages you to meet them throughout the day. Haven't moved enough this hour? It will tell you to get going. It also allows you to join groups in order to share progress or set collective goals. This social aspect is key to success: Research from Michigan State University has found that workout partners—even virtual ones—can improve your performance, particularly if they're more active than you.
3. Brain boosts
You might have already tried apps designed to better your mind, but this trend is just getting started. The market research firm SharpBrains predicts the digital brain-health market will have grown to $6 billion by 2020. Currently, programs like Lumosity are leading the way in building skills such as memory, attention and problem solving. And there is hope that such brain-training activities can prevent brain deterioration later in life. In fact, a study in the journal Neurology shows that mental stimulation slows cognitive decline. Meanwhile, other programs are building mental health by asking you to slow down. The app Headspace aims to get people to take at least 10 minutes each day to focus on the here and now. With the mantra "meditation for modern living," Headspace offers a simple guide (just press play) for how to meditate, effectively helping you relieve stress and improve your mood.
We have more tips to help you keep your health in check, including nine ways to jump the health care queue.
|This story was originally titled "Gear for the New Year" in the January 2014 issue.|
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