Review Category : Health

How Other Fitness Wearables Can Fight Off Apple Watch Juggernaut

Apple(NEW YORK) — The newly unveiled Apple Watch should give existing wearable fitness trackers a run for their money, but the tech giant’s competitors in the burgeoning category aren’t about to take the onslaught lying down, industry experts said.

The Apple Watch is vulnerable on three particular fronts, experts note.

1. Price

“It’s a nice-looking piece but the price point is pretty high and the fact that it has to be tethered to an iPhone lessens its appeal,” said Jamison Cush, executive editor of TechTarget, a business technology publishing company.

Cush likes the sleek look of the $349 Apple Watch and praised its healthy dose of fitness monitoring features that will collect basic stats like steps, mileage and calories burned. But those are functions stand-alone trackers already do competently for a lot less money.

“Jawbone, Fitbit and the others do one thing and they do it really well at a good price,” Cush noted.

“Apple Watch does a lot of other things like communication and notifications, which some users may like but could be perceived as ‘feature creep’ by many users,” he said, using a term that is a play on “mission creep,” where the scope of a mission keeps expanding.

The Fitbit Flex costs about $100. The Jawbone UP24 retails for about $150.

2. Still Months from Hitting the Market

The Apple Watch is at least six months away from hitting the stores, Cush noted. And that gives Apple competitors quite some time to come up with new strategies and new products in response to the Apple Watch, he said.

“It’s the big idea now but by the time it comes out, the market will be much more mature and Apple will have some serious competition,” he said.

Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of the tech consulting firm Moor Insights and Strategies, said because fitness tracking devices serve such a singular purpose, he believes the category won’t be dented too much by the Apple Watch entering the market — at least for now.

Apple unveiled two different apps on Tuesday for its watch that should intrigue both gym rats and casual movers, Moorhead said. The “activity” app will keep track of any movement you do throughout the day. The “workout” app will monitor more intense movement of workouts and sports. And third-party apps are expected to follow.

While the proprietary apps are a differentiator for the watch, Cush isn’t sure they are enough of a draw for anyone except for “fitness nerds.” But, he said, he thought its design — including a sharp display and six interchangeable wristbands — might tempt a few fashion-forward users away from other wearables.

“Most wearables are very techy, very geeky looking,” he noted. “This one is more fashionable and people may want to wear it because it looks good.”

3. Battery Life

Apple Watch’s toughest selling point could be its purportedly short battery life. Apple CEO Tim Cook has sidestepped the question of exactly how long the battery will last, but some tech blogs are reporting that the device will need at least a daily charge.

“Many fitness trackers can go a week or more without a charge,” Cush pointed out. “Battery life is the number-one complaint from users of any wearable and it limits growth in that category.”

But Moorhead noted that the Apple Watch might also drive quite a few new customers into the wearable market.

“Apple seems to have paid a lot of attention to user experience, functionality and ease of use. They’ve removed many of the barriers that were holding consumers back,” he said, adding that this might possibly benefit competitors as well.

Officials at Fitbit, the leading fitness wearable seller, said that far from being worried, they welcome the coming of the Apple Watch.

Company officials noted in a statement to ABC News Wednesday that Fitbit is a “trusted brand” that has a 70-percent market share of what it calls the “Connected Health and Fitness space.”

“Our mission remains empowering and inspiring people to lead healthier, more active lives, and to that end we welcome new products and services like Apple Watch into the market that help further that mission,” the company said in its statement.

Apple and Jawbone did not respond to requests by ABC News for comment.

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New Registered Nurses Always on the Move

iStock/Thinkstock(PRINCETON, N.J.) — Registered nurses may be a more valuable commodity than anyone realized based on a new study conducted by the RN Work Project and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Although a certain amount of turnover at most jobs is pretty common, the study says that 17.5 percent of newly licensed RNs leave their first job within a year. In fact, a third of RNs are on to somewhere different by the end of their second year.

Generally speaking, the turnover occurs more often in health care settings other than hospitals.

Certainly, losing RNs can negatively impact any workplace as high turnovers have been shown to be linked with an increase in physical restraints, pressure ulcers and patient falls.

However, co-author Christine Kovner says that turnovers can actually be helpful when a poorly functioning nurse leaves. On the other hand, things become more complicated if RNs with outstanding work habits seek work elsewhere.

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Breath Test Could Determine Presence of Lung Cancer

Hemera/Thinkstock(FOGGIA, Italy) — It seems too simple to be true but researchers from the University of Foggia in Italy now say that lung cancer can be diagnosed by recording the temperature of exhaled breath.

To reach that conclusion, 82 people who were shown in an x-ray to have possibly contracted lung cancer were given full diagnostic tests. Afterwards, doctors said that half of the diagnoses were correct while 42 patients were deemed cancer-free.

Meanwhile, the breath temperature of all the participants was measured by a thermometer device known as a X-Halo device whereupon those with cancer had the higher temperatures.

Professor Giovanna Elisiana Carpagnano says scientists can accurately prove the presence of lung cancer because of a cut-off value in the measurement of the breath temperature.

Although still in the experimental stages, the professors say doctors hope to one day make the procedure standard in order to provide “patients with a stress-free and simple test that is also cheaper and less intensive for clinicians.”

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Teen Girls with Poor School Habits More Prone to Risky Sex, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) — Getting through high school relatively unscathed is a goal for a lot of teens but what happens when things don’t go well academically?

According to an Indiana University study, poor performance in the classroom can be linked to risky behavior after school, particularly among girls.

Lead author Devon J. Hensel and his fellow researchers went through 80,00 diary entries of 14-to-17-year-old girls to get a better understanding of how a school performance impacts romantic relationships.

Perhaps not surprisingly, there were more instances of vaginal sex and fewer condom use on days girls skipped school compared to times they showed up.

Meanwhile, although the outcome of a test, whether pass or fail, did not affect the incidence of sex, condom use did drop dramatically when a girl flunked a test as opposed to when she didn’t.

Overall, Hensel says that on days when girls skipped school or failed a test, they were more inclined to want to have sex and express feelings of love than days when they attended class or did not receive a failing grade.

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Contest Offering $1 Million in Prize Money Asks Researchers to ‘Cure Aging’

shironosov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PALO ALTO, Calif.) — A California radiologist who heads the Palo Alto Institute is sponsoring a $1 million life science competition aimed at finding a way to “hack the code” of life.

The Palo Alto Prize is a competition dedicated to “ending aging,” according to the website. Sponsored by Dr. Joon Yun, a contributor to Forbes magazine and a board certified radiologist, the competition is offering two $500,000 prizes to teams that can either revert an aging reference animal to the biological equivalent of a young adult, or extend the lifespan of a reference animal by 50 percent of published norms.

The contest judges teams based on their ability to, “hack the code of life and cure aging” and potentially alter homeostatic capacity, or, “the capability of an animal’s systems to self-stabilize in response to stressors.”

The contest launched on Tuesday, and the end of the two prize windows will be on June 15, 2016 for the prize for restoring a mammal to a younger state, and Sept. 9, 2018 for the life extension prize.

The website for the Palo Alto Prize says that the money represents an incentive to, “nurture innovations that end aging by restoring the body’s homeostatic capacity and promoting the extension of a sustained and healthy lifespan.”

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Too Many Students with Chronic Conditions Don’t Have Health Management Plans at School

Wavebreak Media LTD/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Only about 25 percent of students with asthma and about 50 percent of those with food allergies have emergency health management plans in place at school, a new study says.

The study, conducted at Northwestern University, found that too many students are at risk due to not having the “safety net” that is a health management plan. Data was taken from the Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest U.S. school district.

Students who were racial or ethnic minorities or who were from lower-income families were less likely to have a health plan in place, researchers said.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, also noted that many students had more than one condition. For example, 9.3 percent of asthmatic students also had a food allergy, and 40.1 percent of students with a food allergy had asthma. A positive note, researchers said, was that those students with both conditions were more likely to have a health management plan.

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Children from Higher-Income Families Suffer More When Parents Split

John Howard/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study found evidence that children from higher-income families suffer more when their parents split up than children from lower-income families.

Researchers looked at a sample of almost 4,000 children from around the country. The study, published in the journal Child Development, found that kids from wealthier families experienced more behavioral problems after a parental split. Researchers speculated that part of the causation for this is that children from lower-income families may feel less of a change, in terms of economic resources, when one parent leaves.

Children also generally exhibited improved behavior when they moved from a one-parent household to a stepparent family.

Researchers also reaffirmed findings from previous studies that changes in family structure have a greater impact on children in the first five years of their lives than in later years.

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American Ebola Patient Returning to ‘Normal Self’

iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — An American doctor receiving treatment for Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center is improving, hospital officials said Tuesday.

Dr. Rick Sacra, a missionary with the group SIM, contracted Ebola while treating pregnant patients in Monrovia, Liberia. He was transported to Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Friday for treatment.

“He’s kind of becoming his normal self,” said Dr. Angela Hewlett, associate medical director of the hospital’s bio-containment unit. “Family members continue to speak with Dr. Sacra on a regular basis via video conference and that’s a big help for both the patient and his family.”

The bio-containment unit’s director, Dr. Phil Smith, said Sacra’s lab results are improving and he is beginning to become more “alert” and “interactive.”

“We continue to be encouraged by what we’re seeing up to this point,” he said, adding that hospital staff members continue to volunteer to be on the team caring for Sacra.

So far, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 2,296 people and sickened 1,997 more, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

Sacra is the third American missionary to become infected in Monrovia, Liberia, following Ebola survivors Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who were treated and released from Emory University Hospital in August. A fourth American who became infected in Sierra Leone while working for the World Health Organization arrived in Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital Tuesday.

So far, the United States government has sent more than 100 specialists to West Africa to quell the Ebola outbreak and offer support, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told ABC News. The U.S. has also spent $100 million and promised up to $75 million more.

The Department of Defense will also deploy a field hospital to Liberia, it announced Monday.

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Apple Watch Could Do for Fitness What iPod Did for Music

Apple(CUPERTINO, Calif.) — The new Apple Watch was unveiled Tuesday at the tech giant’s much-anticipated event in Cupertino, California.

Besides a screen sharp enough to rival a high-end high-definition TV, the sleek device packs a healthy dose of fitness monitoring features. And while many of those features can be found on various fitness devices already on the market, Apple’s first foray into the wearable tech market could potentially be the breakout hit.

The full specs for the Apple Watch weren’t released on Tuesday, but we know it will track steps, heart rate, mileage, calories and sleep, and its GPS system will sync up to the iPhone. Apple has developed two different apps that should intrigue both gym rats and casual movers. And third-party apps are expected to follow.

Apple’s “activity” app keeps track of any movement you do throughout the day. The “workout” app tracks the more intense movement of workouts and sports.

Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that the Apple Watch will be compatible only with relatively recent versions of the iPhone, starting with the iPhone 5. The cost starts at $349 and it comes in two different sizes and three different collections: Watch, Watch Sport and Watch Edition.

Users can choose from with six swappable bands, including a moisture-wicking sports band. Plus Apple touted the ability to personalize the interface.

Cook sidestepped the issue of how long the device will last between charges. But if it requires a daily charge as some tech blogs have speculated, users too lazy to get up off the couch may be too lazy to plug in their watch quite so often.

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Enterovirus Likely to Spread Through Schools, Experts Say

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A rare virus is marching through the Midwest just in time for back-to-school, the time of year when viruses start to spread rapidly between students before infecting the rest of the population.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into hundreds of suspected cases of enterovirus 68, an infection that starts out like the common cold but can quickly turn serious — especially in children with asthma. The virus is thought to spread through contact with respiratory secretions like saliva and mucus as well as feces, health officials say.

“Every year we see the same thing: children return to school and enteroviruses circulate in the community,” said ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. “Because of this, it is very common for children to get back-to-school colds and other illnesses.”

The virus was first reported in Kansas and Missouri, but suspected cases have also been reported in Atlanta, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.

“It obviously spreads very, very readily because it moved across the Midwest and has now gone down to the South,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. “When children get close together in school, circulate for prolonged periods of time indoors, that is an ideal circumstance for this respiratory virus to spread from child to child.”

And viruses can spread quickly. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that it only takes two to four hours for a virus to make its way from one contaminated doorknob or table top to 40 to 60 percent of an office’s population and objects. Lead researcher Charles Gerba said his team used tracer viruses that are the exact same size and shape as an enterovirus.

“Most people don’t realize touching surfaces is a great way to spread infections,” Gerba said, adding that his experiment included 80 adults, and that the employee break room was always the first to become infected.

But Gerber’s study was in adults, who typically touch their faces about 12 times an hour, he said. Two-year-olds touch their faces 80 times an hour, according to Gerba, and 5-year-olds touch their faces about 60 times an hour.

“That’s what makes these kids more likely to get it,” Gerba said. “The best friend a virus ever had is your fingers.”

Although Besser said it’s hard to completely prevent children from getting sick, parents can help.

“You can reduce the spread by making sure your child’s classroom enforces good hand-washing before lunch and after kids come back from the bathroom,” Besser said. “Soap and water is best but when that isn’t possible, alcohol-based hand sanitizer works great.”

Since children with asthma are more likely to have breathing difficulty when they catch enterovirus 68, Besser said parents should watch for danger signs.

“If your child catches a cold and starts to wheeze, don’t ignore it,” he said. “Get them seen by their doctor, right away.”

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