The Future Is Wearable

The U.S. military is changing fitness rules...

For decades, the different branches of the armed forces required annual fitness tests to make sure servicemembers were healthy enough to serve. For example, the Army Physical Fitness Test grades soldiers on their ability to do pushups, situps, and a 2-mile run.

But the newest branch of the military – Space Force – recently announced it would ditch the annual fitness test in favor of wearable fitness trackers.

These trackers won't just be used to see if Space Force members can run a couple miles. They'll track eating habits, mental health, and sleep. Space Force is still deciding what type of tech to use, but it plans to implement these changes next year.

Fitness trackers aren't a ubiquitous part of life yet, but this change for Space Force signals the way we view health is changing.

Fitness trackers are older than some folks realize. In 1964, a Japanese company created one of the first pedometers – machines that track how many steps you take.

But today's fitness trackers do much more than count your steps... They can track your heart rate, oxygen levels, sleep cycle, body temperature, and more.

Our executive editor Carli Flippen is a longtime user of one of the most popular fitness trackers – Fitbit. It has helped him improve his health over the last seven years. As he explained...

The Fitbit is great to monitor my basic behavior, and make sure I'm moving enough in general. I like looking at my runs, mapped out on GPS, and review where my heart rate was highest and where I hit my best speeds. It has also motivated me to get more sleep to improve my scores. And it's interesting to see how it directly influences resting heart rate.

Carli isn't alone. According to a survey from Gallup, nearly 20% of Americans wear a fitness tracker – like the Fitbit, Apple Watch, or Garmin watch. And the industry is seeing massive growth.

Global sales of trackers grew from $14 billion in 2017 to more than $36 billion in 2020. And industry experts think that could soar to $114 billion by 2028.

I'm a longtime fan of wearable tech. Just the other week, I was in the office testing three different fitness trackers. I'm a data hound... I love looking at numbers and charts and using what I learn to make better decisions. So I'm a big believer that this sort of technology will help folks vastly improve their physical and mental health.

That's why my team and I are in the middle of researching and testing some of the best health and wellness tech gadgets, but we want to hear from you...

What technology do you use to get you moving, help you sleep better, and generally live a healthier life? Let us know at [email protected].

Now, here are some of the things on your minds this week...

Q: Is now a good time to refinance? – D.K.

A: While mortgage rates are still around the highest we've seen them in the past five years, they are beginning to fall again. As we write, the rate for a 30-year fixed refinance loan is around 5.35%. If you're thinking of refinancing today, there are a few factors to consider...

One good rule of thumb is to consider refinancing your mortgage if interest rates drop by 1.25 basis points or more from your original rate. For example, if your original interest is 6.75% and rates then drop below 5.5%, that's a good time to think about refinancing.

Just be sure to look at the cost to do the switch...

Every 1% of the mortgage amount you pay in fees to refinance adds about one more year to the breakeven point. So if rates drop 1.25% and it costs 2% to refinance, figure about two years before you break even. And make sure you compare costs for a 30-year loan with a 15-year loan. A 15-year loan will have a higher monthly payment, but you'll pay less interest over the life of the loan.

Q: What do you think of a headache after drinking alcohol? – F.H.

A: One of the main causes of a headache after drinking alcohol is dehydration. That's why my rule is to drink one glass of water after every glass of alcohol.

Wine in particular can cause headaches from two other triggers...

The first... a substance called "histamine." If you have seasonal allergies, your wine headache could simply be a reaction to the histamines in wine.

An easy solution is to take an antihistamine before imbibing. Be sure it's a non-drowsy version of the medication – you shouldn't mix Benadryl with alcohol for this reason. But other over-the-counter antihistamines like Claritin and Allegra don't interact with alcohol. (Remember, you can always check drug interactions on trusted websites like

Second, "tannins" can also cause wine headaches. Tannins are types of molecules found in grape seeds and skins. They're also in oak. Because red wine ferments with grape skins, it contains tannins. White wines aged in oak can also have tannins.

If you think your headache comes from tannins, try cutting back on other tannin-rich foods like dark chocolate, tea, cinnamon, pomegranates, walnuts, and red beans. And if you want to avoid tannins in wine, try white wines that are not aged in oak.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 5, 2022