Modern day fitness trackers, popularized by FitBit and AppleWatch, can track workouts, sleep habits, heart rate, and even calories burned during a workout. Now, researchers are saying they could even be used to predict flu outbreaks.
A new study published in the Lancet looked at data from 200,000 fitness tracker users in California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania over the course of two years. Each participant was monitored for at least 60 days and their data was compared with their corresponding state’s weekly estimates of influenza-like illness rates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The results showed a correlation between abnormal data, such as irregular sleeping patterns or elevated heart rates and high flu rates in the region. The head researcher, Jennifer Radin, Ph.D., says the new findings could be critical for helping prevent flu outbreaks well in advance.