The Clothing Tech That Measures Your Performance | This Week’s Top Studies

Like to stay ahead of the science when it comes to getting your training and nutrition right? What about the things that you’d never even think may affect your health or fitness? Well, we’re here to cover them all each week. 

This time, we’re looking at whether noise pollution can add to your waistline and the clothing using sweat science to detect exercise performance. Let’s get stuck in. 


Sweat science clothing 

You may have been tracking your workouts and general health with a fitness watch for a while, but now a patch inserted in your clothing could tell you so much more. 

Researchers have developed a patch that can monitor various health and performance markers in your sweat.1 That means you can get real-time information on hydration levels and electrolyte levels, as well as lactate levels which indicate muscle fatigue. The technology can even pick up on cortisol levels in order to assess emotional stress levels.  

So, what does this mean for athletes? It would allow you to predict peaks and declines in performance as you go without invasive blood tests, with it being fitted into your workout wear. 

It works to measure different components of sweat by having different threads in the material that react with each different component. So, there’s threads coated in that are coated to detect lactate and others to measure acidity, etc. These threads are all connected to a tiny circuit module and microprocessor which can then communicate the results wirelessly straight to your phone. 

It would be pretty great to know how much your body needs that intra-workout nutrients wouldn’t it? 


Can noise pollution add to your waistline? 

If you live on a busy road, you may be used to listening to the traffic as you dose off at night — in fact, it might even wake you up from time to time. You might have wondered if that ambulance zipping by is having a greater effect than just waking you up through the night too. 

According to a new study that’s looked at the link between traffic noise and your weight.2 The healthy limit for sound is 55 decibels and unbelievably, over 100 million people in Europe live in areas where traffic noise is higher than this. 

The study looked at data from over 500,000 people from the UK, Norway, and the Netherlands and found links between being a heavier weight and noise levels in the UK and Norway, but not in the Netherlands. They even found that the trend persisted across a whole different host of lifestyle factors such as diet and activity levels, as well as socio-economic status. 

The researchers couldn’t find a particular cause for this, but it’s thought that it could be due to disturbed sleep and increased sleep levels, to name a few issues excessive traffic noise could cause. 

So, what can we do about it? Less cars on the road and improving facilities for other modes of transport such as cycling and walking could make a huge difference in the number of cars on the road. 

There’s still more research to be done here, but it’s certainly an interesting factor that you may never have considered. 


Take home message 

There’s no doubt that over the next few years we’ll see leaps in the advancement of technology that records our physical activity and general health — who even used a fitness watch 5 years ago? It’s also interesting to consider the many everyday things that could impact our health.  

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

1. Terse-Thakoor, T., Punjiya, M., Matharu, Z., Lyu, B., Ahmad, M., Giles, G. E., … & Sonkusale, S. (2020). Thread-based multiplexed sensor patch for real-time sweat monitoring. npj Flexible Electronics4(1), 1-10.

2. Cai, Y., Zijlema, W. L., Sørgjerd, E. P., Doiron, D., de Hoogh, K., Hodgson, S., … & Rahimi, K. (2020). Impact of road traffic noise on obesity measures: observational study of three European cohortsEnvironmental Research, 110013.

Evangeline Howarth

Evangeline Howarth

Writer and expert

Evangeline has taken part in competitive sports since a young age. As a qualified RYA Dinghy Instructor, she understands the importance of proper nutrition for fuelling extreme and endurance sports, especially due to her experience in Team GBR Squads and captaining and coaching her University first team.

In her spare time, Evangeline loves running – especially marathons. On the weekends, you’ll find her taking on water sports or hiking up a hill. Her favourite evenings are spent taking on a HIIT session or squats in the gym before digging into some spicy food and a ton of vegetables – yum!

Find out more about Evie's experience here.

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