Five Wellbeing Wins for Wearables

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.

Display of the activity rings on the Apple Watch Series 8
Display of the activity rings on the Apple Watch Series 8

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.

3. Alerts

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 🙂

The Nightmare Before the End of Term!

Nope, it’s not a movie sequel – it’s my foray into the world of creating a virtual escape room.

I have to admit, I’m a bit late to the party when it comes to escape rooms. They’ve been around a while, but I’ve never done one, either in person or virtually. I know, I need to get out more (if that’s the right expression).

This term we ran a Jisc event to share teaching ideas and one of my FE contacts at Coleg Gwent in Wales mentioned escape rooms (thanks Natalie btw!). They sounded fun and a sure-fire way of gamifying the learning experience which appealed to me.


I’ve put together an escape room using the free account on the Genially site. If you’ve not come across it by the way the site has lots of templates to choose from and the learning curve on their editor is minimal. It’s also a site for creating all sorts of interactive content you can use with learners, not just escape rooms.

I went with the horror theme and made my escape room a little tongue-in-cheek. As I intend to share it with teaching staff that’s the target audience. The context is a beleaguered member of teaching staff who has a number of challenges to overcome before they can wrap up the term and go on holiday.

Sound familiar?

It’s a little cheesey, I know, but I wanted to make the escape room fairly light-hearted and fun, as well as educational.


Can you escape to that exotic Caribbean island?

Have a go and let me know what you think. Could you use escape rooms with your learners? If so, what type of scenario would you use? Let me know in the comments or drop me a tweet!

Lost in the virtual reality labyrinth

Recently, like for many of you I’m sure, I’ve been reflecting on what to do about Christmas this year. Namely, what presents to buy …

A random email promoting the sales on Black Friday sparked my interest in a virtual reality headset for the PlayStation. I’m not particularly a big video gamer – I have a PlayStation, but I mainly watch Netflix through it. What games I have are mainly played by my young nephew when he comes round. It’s a bit of a hunch, but I’m fairly sure he would be happy to explore virtual reality gaming though. Virtual reality is also a bit of a hot topic at work with more people trying out virtual reality in an educational context. Continue reading

A closer look at Screencast-O-Matic

As free screencasting tools go, Screencast-O-Matic is my favourite. It features as number 27 in the Top 100 Tools for Learning poll of 2015 and is an easy way to create fairly short screencasts (15 minutes or less) to help reinforce key topics with learners. If you haven’t done one before a screencast is typically a video recording of all, or part, of your screen that’s accompanied by an audio or video narration. It’s ideal for demonstrating what you are doing on your computer, such as a software demo or web search, a presentation run-through or is even being used by some organisations as a means of providing formative and summative feedback to learners. Continue reading

Using iMovie to create engaging video

“I do enjoy making videos, even though they are long days and very hard work.”
Tanya Tucker, American country and music artist.

Without doubt, making quality video is a painstaking process, and I can’t deny – to do it right takes time. Having said that though, there’s something very enjoyable about crafting a short video; editing the scenes, adding the music and so on, that makes it very satisfying. I don’t know whether that’s the creative, geeky part of me talking or it’s something else, but making short videos for others to enjoy can be immensely rewarding. Continue reading