How tech can help you get happier and healthier

A change of lifestyle and a positive mindset can lift your physical and mental wellbeing, but sustaining those changes can be tricky. That’s where technology may help.

Every day, you make choices that can help your wellbeing, from choosing what you eat and how much you move, to taking steps to reduce stress and manage existing illnesses.

But even the best of intentions can become undone. Who hasn’t reached for chocolate to counteract the dreaded afternoon slump at work, or poured an extra-large glass of wine after a stressful day? 

Blame it on dopamine

Sticking to new plans can be hard largely because of dopamine – a chemical messenger in the brain that, among other things, is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward1. Habits that feel good, such as eating sugary food or super-loaded burgers, smoking, or checking your social media account, release dopamine in the brain.

The problem is dopamine feels so nice that it can set off a craving for more. This can make you go back for second helpings or spend hours scrolling your phone.

But you can also use dopamine for good – and that’s where tech tools come in. These tools can help you monitor your progress, trigger the brain’s reward centres, and use dopamine to motivate you and help you stick to your goals.

Get moving with wearables

Wearable tech, such as a fitness tracker or smartwatch, can motivate you to make better health choices.

Wearables work by using motion sensors to monitor your daily activities in real time. As well as clocking the number of steps you’ve taken or kilometres you’ve run, wearables can also monitor health data such as your blood pressure, heart rate and sleep patterns.

It’s no surprise that wearables are popular. They’re comfortable and light to wear and intuitive to use. You can program them to remind you to exercise, have a break from your computer or take your medication.

But possibly the biggest factor behind wearable’s popularity is that they stimulate reward centres in the brain. So if you hit your daily goal for steps taken or kilometres run, or you see an improvement in your fitness indicators, you get a feeling of accomplishment – which helps motivate you to keep going.

Some studies have suggested that fitness wearables can help improve your results. For example, a review of weight-loss exercise programs published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that participants who used a fitness tracker lost an average of 6 pounds (2.72 kilos) more than those who didn’t2.

Tech and meditation

The benefits of meditation are well documented. It can help you reduce stress and anxiety levels, increase focus and self-awareness, feel more positive about life, improve sleep and even control pain3. However, many people find meditation hard to stick to and stop doing it regularly.

Tech devices may be able to help increase motivation and make meditation more rewarding. For example, a 2018 study by researchers in Milan compared the meditation outcome of two groups – one that wore devices that measured their brain activity while meditating, and one that didn’t. The study found that those using the wearable device showed better signs of relaxation, attention and focus4.

There's an app for that

There’s been an explosion of health and wellbeing apps since the invention of the smartphone. These include apps for:

  • diet and exercise
  • meditation
  • sleep
  • storing medical information
  • monitoring medications
  • managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma
  • managing anxiety, pain and depression.


Research shows that these apps can help people stick to their health goals. One study of people with diabetes found that using a diabetes app helped them better manage their self-care and make lifestyle changes5. And another study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research concluded that individuals who use an exercise app tend to exercise more in their free time than those who don’t use one6.

As apps can trigger dopamine, which increases pleasure and motivation, they may also be useful in treating depression. A literature review of digital apps concluded that apps could increase motivation among mild and moderately depressed individuals, and could potentially help them choose more positive behaviours7.

Tech is best as part of an overall plan

Technology can help you reach and stick to your health and wellbeing goals, and it’s even more powerful when it’s tailored to your specific goals and needs8. But it’s important to choose behaviours that you can stick to for the long term – such as choosing a form of exercise that works for you9, or avoiding restrictive diets10.

Get started with LiveWell:

LiveWell by Zurich is our global health and wellbeing app designed to help you make health a habit.

Create your LiveWell account here and then follow the prompts to download the app for your smartphone.

1 Health Direct website, ‘Dopamine’, April 2021. 

2 H Godman, ‘Wearable fitness trackers may aid weight-loss efforts’, Harvard Health Publishing, 1 July 2021.

3 Healthline website, ‘12 science-based benefits of meditation’, 11 May 2023.

4 D Crivelli, G Fronda et al, ‘Supporting mindfulness practices with brain-sensing devices. Cognitive and electrophysical evidence’, Mindfulness, February 2019.

5 MM Kebede and CR Pischke, 'Popular diabetes apps and the impact of diabetes app use on self-care behaviour: A survey among the digital community of persons with diabetes on social media’, Frontiers in Endocrinology, March 2019.

6 L Litman, Z Rosen et al, ‘Mobile exercise apps and increased leisure time exercise activity: A moderated mediation analysis of the role of self-efficacy and barriers’, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Vol 17, No 8, August 2015.

7 S Mouchabac, R Maatoug et al, ‘In search of digital dopamine: How apps can motivate depressed patients, a review and conceptual analysis’, Brain Sciences, November 2021,

8 University of British Colombia GearBrain website, ‘Fitness apps more effective when they are personalized’, 29 September 2016.

9 UCLA Health, ‘Are fitness trackers enough to keep you motivated and turn exercise into a habit?’, 10 February 2022.

10 J Carter, ‘That diet probably won’t work long-term – here’s what to focus on instead’, Ohio State University Health & Discovery, 1 February 2022.