Are DNA fitness assessments good value for money?

Fitness tracking devices have helped many people to improve their exercising, but they are standardised tools.


Fitness tracking devices have helped many people to improve their exercising, but they are standardised tools.

The problem with them that they are neither accurate nor sophisticated enough yet.

So personalised DNA testing sytems are growing.

“As well as providing data for us, companies need to provide coaching with this data. They need to take responsibility for the results they’re providing us,” says Prof Lane.

And Plextek’s Ms Johnson thinks they need to understand more about the individual user.

“They need to recognise whether Sharon from Uxbridge really should be doing two hours of fitness a week, how that’s going to impact upon her body, her joints, whether she’s at risk of osteoporosis.

“Fitness trackers can be too generic, personalising them will motivate us more,” she told the BBC.

Apps, like the Slimming World app, may be better for achieving sustained weight loss, she argues, because they allow you to track your weight loss progress and give you incentives after it has recorded your exercise.

“There is no doubt the industry is booming, but for it to really see results it needs not only to give us results, but to make them as personalised and as accurate as possible.”


So what tech innovations are making fitness tracking more effective?

Genetics and nutrition firm DNAFit advises on how we should be training and what we should be eating after testing our genes and applying its algorithm to the analysis.

You take a saliva swab and send it off to the company’s lab. After 10 days a report tells you which exercises your body will respond to best and which foods you should be eating. The company says its technology platform has been peer reviewed and clinically tested.

Other companies such as FitnessGenes, Genetrainer and AnabolicGenes adopt similar approaches.

Jo Rooney, 35, a deputy headteacher, used the test to try to cure her stomach problems.

“My results came back quite quickly and told me that I was actually lactose intolerant and had a high sensitivity to gluten.

“This did mean quite a radical change to my diet, and a lot more forward planning, but within a week I felt a lot less bloated, lost weight and I’d stopped having stomach problems.”

Body of evidence

Body scanners and tech built into sports clothes are also giving us more detailed results.

For example, Fit3D uses scanners to assess the whole body to calculate body fat percentage, assess posture and give body shape scoring.

While last year, OMsignal launched OMbra, a smart sports bra that tracks heart rate, breathing and distance between steps, and shares this data with a smartphone app.

Prof Lane believes that we’re also going to start seeing biometric devices integrated not just into clothes and wearable devices, but directly on to our bodies as well.

For example, US tech firm Chaotic Moon Studios – now called Fjord – has created a prototype tech tattoo – a skin-mounted monitor that connects to your smartphone to monitor heart rate, blood pressure and even track movement via GPS.

Now we just need an injection of willpower.



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