Apple Watch and Getting Physical
I’ve been on the losing end of an ongoing battle with weight loss for quite a while. Most recently, my efforts last spring were completely stifled by a foot injury sustained while exercising. The pain still persists when I try to run, but getting custom inserts made for my running shoes has gone a long way towards being active again. Besides the orthopedic inserts, I have a new and unlikely tool in my quest for better health: my Apple Watch.
When I got the watch as a birthday present, its health functions didn’t even register on my radar. I was more concerned with all of the cool apps this thing could run that I wouldn’t have imagined myself. Well, it’s clear that others haven’t imagined them either, as the Apple Watch app store is mostly abysmal.
The saving grace of the device for me has been the things it can do for tracking my health. Combined with the on-board motion and heart rate sensors, the Activity app tracks my calorie burn, exercise time, steps, distance and how many hourly intervals where I stood for at least one minute. That in itself isn’t all that exciting, but its implementation with the watch has made it a key part of my everyday life.
For one, all I have to do is wear the watch and it does all the tracking for me. Monitoring my progress is a breeze, as I can view my stats within the Glances view of the watch, making it just one swipe away at any given time. Most importantly, progress is mapped against predefined goals, giving me incentive to work. At any moment, I can know exactly where I’m at and come up with ways of burning more calories or clocking in more exercise time.
With regards to the stand goal, if you haven’t hit your one minute of standing per hour quota, the watch will actually remind you to stand up before it’s too late. You can also set the watch to give you notifications on your progress throughout the day. Mine is currently set for every four hours, which is a comfortable interval for my day-to-day.
One aspect of the tracking experience that I appreciate is the fact that you don’t have to be explicitly doing exercise for your movements to be counted as such. Yes, you can separately log your workouts with the handy Workout app, but whenever your body kicks into high gear for anything, that time counts as exercise towards your goal. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the walking I do to-and-from work counted, which has only motivated me to not only exercise, but to walk a little faster and farther just to squeeze a few extra minutes of active time in.
In order to make the big gains in my exercise time, I have started to get more active by playing basketball again, going for walks and hitting the exercise bike. By using the Workout app, I still get the benefits of tracking through Activity, but I can also get separate tracking for just my workouts. It gives me real-time data on calories burned, distance traveled, time spent, heart rate and more. Having this handy gives me a great sense of how effective each activity is for calorie burn while allowing me to set workout-specific goals to work towards.
My favourite use for the watch is at the basketball court. As I play, I can track my progress just by glancing at my wrist. Furthermore, I can control my music without having to run to my phone each time. Instead, I just quickly change the track through my watch and seamlessly carry on.
The Apple Watch is far from a must have item, especially when there are other/more mature fitness trackers on the market at a cheaper price point, but its already impacting my life in a positive way. This is only going to get better, as third party apps will get access to the core health functionality and can add additional tracking for food intake, water intake and other fun facts about how you live your life. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I got the watch a few months back, but I’m glad to have it now for the health benefits.