When the Apple Watch series 8 launched in September in the UK I finally took the plunge and bought one. I had a ‘significant birthday’ this year. My health and fitness is generally okay for my age, but I’m at that age where certain things are starting to get harder. This prompted me into keeping a closer eye on my health.
Like most people my age, I find myself managing and readjusting expectations of what I can do fitness-wise. That’s not to say I’m not active. I am, but dialling down the intensity, training smarter and injury prevention have to be built in to what I do. And this is where insights into my body metrics that wearables provide can be helpful.
Maybe you’re in a similar position?
I’m careful not to get evangelical. This is not a post about how you should all go out and buy a smart watch, or an Apple Watch specifically. I appreciate there are lots of options available and it’s a matter of reflecting on what works for you. I have no agenda, other than to share my personal experiences.
With that in mind, here are my wellbeing wins.
1. Move more
Sounds obvious, but how many of us actually do it without being prompted? Like many people, I have a job where I am sat working on a computer for most of the day. Sure, I get up and go downstairs to make a coffee or raid the fridge, but that’s about the extent of the ‘activity.’ It’s all too easy to get engrossed in something before realising you’ve been sat for a couple of hours without moving. Not good.
This is where a smart watch can help.
If you’re sat for too long, your Apple Watch sends you a notification nudging you to move around for at least a minute away from the screen. I find these reminders helpful, because I find it all too easy to forget. At times, it can feel like the watch is nagging me a little, but I need nagging! The notifications also help me to be more mindful of my fitness and wellbeing throughout the day. More on the notifications later.
2. Set goals
Of course, it’s not just about getting up every hour. There are different types of activity that you can track, whether you’re a runner, cyclist, gym monkey or whatever.
The activity app on the watch allows you to capture a range of exercises throughout the day and incentivises you to meet your fitness goals. The app breaks your activity down into three areas, represented by three rings in different colours on the watch. The idea is to set goals against all three to encourage you to sit less, exercise and burn more calories as a result.
Being able to customise the goals for each of the three circles is a neat feature. The watch also gives you a visual display of the three circles so you can see exactly how much progress you have made. Having an “at a glance” check on your fitness goals at any time during the day makes it much easier to achieve them. Not only are you reminded of them every time you check the time but you also get notifications too.
On the topic of notifications, I know many of you might think they could become annoying fast – and you would be bang on.
One of the first things I’d recommend you do is customise the notifications on your watch. For me it was about ensuring that I only got notifications that had a health benefit and turning off all the ones that don’t. Goodbye to alerts that someone has thrown a virtual sheep at me (or whatever) on social media. Hello to the Focus feature.
Focus helps to remove the distractions that tech can often bring. This could be for work purposes, if you have something you’re working on with a looming deadline or an important meeting where you need to be on the ball. Equally though, it can help in your personal life, whether that’s at the cinema (my pet hate – seeing people respond to something on their smart phones when I’m trying to watch a movie. Grrr!) or even when you just want to wind down before going to sleep.
Focus is a great feature to boost your wellbeing and keeps you in the moment.
4. Connecting with others
I recently had a chat with a friend who told me how a smart watch would have been invaluable for keeping track of an elderly parent with dementia. This got me thinking about how wearables not only benefit your wellbeing but that of your loved ones too.
After all, our stress levels are often dependent on how well our loved ones are doing. If a wearable can give us peace of mind that loved ones are okay, then that in turn reduces our worry and improves our wellbeing too.
Many of my friends know that I’m a keen runner and have been using various apps over the years, such as Nike Plus, Garmin and Strava to connect with my running peers. I appreciate this is not for everyone. Some people I have spoken to don’t want to share their running times with others for various reasons. However, for me, connecting with others is a great source of motivation and chatting with friends about running goals and giving kudos for good runs is definitely a wellbeing win.
Needless to say, the Apple Watch, as with many other wearables, provides that. Connecting with others also helps to facilitate conversations about health more generally. which is no bad thing.
5. Knowledge is power
We’re all guilty of developing bad habits. Whether that’s grazing on snacks throughout the day, slouching in the office chair or something else. Being informed about your trends throughout the day with an accurate breakdown of your activity (or inactivity) empowers you to do something about those bad habits.
The Apple Watch series 8 synchs all your data with the Health app on the iPhone. This gives you an helicopter view of your sleep patterns, body metrics and exercise routines. Want to know how much sleep you’re getting? You’ve got it. Daily step count? Covered. As well as exercise patterns, calorie burn, and so much more.
We live such hectic lives that we often don’t stop to consider how connected all these things are to making us feel good about ourselves. What’s more, it’s encouraged me to dig deeper and find out more about training at different heart rate zones to burn fat more efficiently, to be more mindful of how sleep (or a lack of) affects my mood and generally to look after myself better.
Knowledge is power!
The market is awash with health/fitness trackers in 2022, from Fitbit, Garmin, Oura, Amazon Halo, Whoop, and Amazfit to mention but a few. For me as an Apple phone user it was a no-brainer, because the watch and phone integration is seamless. However, I appreciate that may not work for everyone.
Find what works for you 🙂