Much has already been written about the Apple Watch, so I decided to highlight one specific topic.
Medical research in Korea earlier this year confirmed what I already knew: I was overweight and I had to change my lifestyle. I’m an IT Consultant and I do most of my work sitting. So far I tried to get my daily exercise by an occasional visit to the beach or forest in my spare time. With only minimal success, I was hoping the Apple Watch would help out.
End May 2015, after one week with the Apple Watch the Activity app reported:
“Dae, you have successfully reached our daily target to burn 420 calories exactly once during the past week. Would you like to lower your target?”
I really wanted to change my lifestyle and I decided to finally make it happen. I was time for action!
A wise dietician once said: “I you want to lose weight, eat less and work out more”. As simple as that might sound and be, a little help never hurts. Make no mistake: the Apple Watch is not going to do the workout for you – you have to do it yourself. The hardest part in running is the distance between the couch and the front door. Eating less is a matter of habit and perseverance. If you weigh less, working out gets easier and you need less food 🙂
The Watch features an Activity app, displaying three circles: the outer circle (red) shows your daily calories burnt. This is, of course, an estimate. My Fitbit Charge estimates calories burnt solely on the number of steps I’ve taken. The Apple Watch also involves my heart rate and measures the effort it takes for my body (heart) to perform during workout. The slightly smaller circle stands for workout, or intense movement. A simple walk around the block is workout and so is running. There is a list. The inner blue circle reflects every hour of the day in which you have at least stood up for one minute. Apple says sitting is the new cancer. I’m not a scientist, but I can imagine a healthier life standing up every once per hour as opposed to sitting on your lazy butt the whole day. “I’m not going to be told by some stupid watch what to do”, I’ve heard. I decide to just try it an base my opinion on experience.
If you place the three circles on the start screen of your Watch, you can easily keep track of your progress throughout the day. Of course it’s very tempting to close the three circles every day! Afterwards you can use your iPhone to check your progress over time. There are gorgeous graphs, that you can enrich with data from other apps. The Apple Health app ties everything together.
When the time has come to stand up, your Apple Watch vibrates and reminds you. I admit: at the beginning it’s a bit weird, but you’ll get used to it. I notice I do sit a lot and only when I really focus I can close the blue circle. Of course you cannot stand up in the car, but you might consider stopping over for a quick fuel or toilet break, which will give you the opportunity to stand up for a little while. Remember: this is not just about standing up, but changing your habits. At restaurants, theatres and events it’s easy to identify the Apple Watch owners 🙂
In my office I have a height adjustable desk, that allows my to work sitting or standing.
The green circle stands for 30 minutes of intensive movement every day. I do that without thinking about it, but it does encourage me to do more. This morning I saw I already earned ten minutes of workout, leaving about 20 more for today. During the past weeks I felt really inspired to go running, so I went out for the first kilometres. Before noon I have reached those 30 minutes and the rest of the day is a bonus!
I started with a daily exercise target of 420 calories. After a few weeks, the Watch asked me to raise to 460 and currently my daily target is 500 calories. I like the tiny increment, although you could manually raise the bar to your own liking. The real challenge is to keep small improvement over time and not revert to old behaviour.
It’s been a while, but I started to enjoy running again. Working out more and eating less has brought me to my weight goal and I still have enough fat margin for face that tough winter (that is never going to come). The Activity app on the Apple Watch is nice and reliable. Cool: during running you can leave your iPhone home and the app will keep track of your steps and burnt calories. Apple advises to bring out your iPhone every now and then to calibrate the process and make it more accurate. I like to see where I ran on a map and the Watch has no GPS, so I’m using Strava and take the iPhone with me around my arm. I’m also using Nike+ and Runtastic Pro. Before leaving the house, I’m starting no less than four activity apps on my tiny Watch screen. Strava, Nike+ and Runtastic Pro automatically pause when you’re not moving or haven’t started moving yet. I’m starting Apple’s Activity app last and I’m stopping it first when I get back. While the Activity app measures your workout, you can see the green light on your wrist, underneath the Watch, which looks super cool in the dark!
Little insights can help you move more. I consciously park my car a bit further away than necessary. This is not a huge deal, but results in a few extra steps per day. If there is an elevator, there must be stairs. Unfortunately the Watch doesn’t keep track of stairs, but my Fitbit Charge still does. Even walking down stairs will give you extra steps. Public transport always results in more exercise than using the car.
So, what’s the added value of the Apple Watch in this story? I like to start, track and stop those apps around my wrist and not reach for my phone. The Watch gives me a convenient overview of my progress. I’m using my iPhone or laptop for more extensive analysis. It’s a pity Apple has not yet released access to the heart rate monitor to third parties. The non-Apple apps can only track your heart rate using separate Bluetooth monitors or special running watches. I’m hoping this will change soon. watchOS 2 allows app developers to run their app on your watch, instead of your iPhone. Unfortunately not many developers have rewritten their apps, but they will soon. All in all the (current) Apple Watch reality is not shocking, but I can feel the potential of the tiny computer around my wrist. Did you already get one?