Living a healthier lifestyle is a struggle for a lot of people. With modern life moving at a frenetic pace, most find it increasingly difficult to exercise and eat right. Because of work and various other responsibilities, keeping tabs on your health now feels like an optional chore. Fortunately, technology at present has become smart enough to act as a personal assistant on practically every facet of our daily life, allowing us to be more productive.
This has made consumers increasingly dependent on products like wearable technology and for a good reason. Imagine not having to go to the doctor and wearing intrusive equipment just to get your vitals checked! If you have an Apple Watch, all you need to do is to take a moment to check your ECG waveform. This is something that would have cost time, money, and a trip to the hospital just a few years back.
It is obvious that wearables are now able to offer so many advantages that they have become too good to ignore. Though it has been raised that consumers may be paying for these advantages with their health data, it is still undeniable that smartwatches have revolutionized the way consumers take charge of their healthcare.
What does the Apple Watch do?
The Apple Watch is arguably one of the most popular pieces of wearable tech in recent years. Its latest version, the Apple Watch 5, can practically do everything that an iPhone can. Like most Apple devices, it seeks to be indispensable in every aspect of your day which is why it can run almost any app for just about any need that you may have. To show how diverse the apps on the Apple Watch are, here are a few examples of the most popular ones:
- iTranslate – a quick and easy translation app. It can give you a translation immediately right after you speak.
- PayByPhone Parking – tells you how much time left you have left on your parking ticket and allows you to pay for it from your watch.
- WaterMinder – gives you hydration reminders throughout the day.
- CityMapper – kind of like a Waze for commuters, it tells you which buses and trains to take to your destination.
- Things – an easy to use task tracker that allows you to manage your “to do” list and see how productive you have been.
Built for Fitness
As expected from an aluminum-clad, water-resistant smartwatch loaded with various sensors, the possible applications for the Apple Watch in the health and wellness sphere seems to be endless. Because of this, it’s not surprising to find a number of health apps in the top 10 apps for the Apple Watch. Some examples are:
- Lifesum – this app promises an easier way of tracking what you eat. Great for people who like to keep tabs on their caloric intake.
- Strava – Strava is a popular “social-fitness” network primarily aimed at runners and cyclists. Its Watch app is like a lite version of its phone counterpart but still one of the best in tracking your training information.
- Autosleep – like most sleep apps, and there are a lot, Autosleeps provides the user with a detailed sleep analysis in the morning based on movements during sleep, heart rate, etc.
- CarrotFit – A workout app with a “personality”. CarrotFit motivates the user with a hostile robot coach and rewards in the form of app upgrades or funny rewards.
Did we mention that you can also use the Apple Watch to control the camera on the iPhone? This is one incredibly cool feature that comes in handy if you want to take a video of yourself while working out. Great for checking out your form (and gains!).
Smartwatches make it easier to be healthy
Over the years, lots of companies have tried making products that would make people healthier. Can you recall how many of them endured and still exists up until today? What makes smartwatches so different that it holds so much promise?
It is because we cannot live without our phones, and a smartwatch is practically just a smartphone strapped to your wrist. Think about how many times a day you look at your phone. Basically, your Apple Watch puts real-time health data where you pay attention the most.
Pushing you to be healthy
By making you aware of what’s happening in your body all throughout the day, smartwatches make you:
- More proactive – People are often reactive when it comes to health problems. Most only go to the doctor if they’re feeling sick. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”. This is basically the advantage smartwatches give you. For example, your Apple Smartwatch can alert you if you are having abnormal heart rhythms1 as this may be a sign of heart complications such as a stroke or blood clots. This information can prompt you to consult with a doctor before something happens, rather than after.
- More engaged- Most people feel more in control if they have direct access to their health data. Smartwatches and health apps can give users a good idea of the state of their health and usually provide actionable suggestions on how to improve their health stats.
- More motivated – Once you get used to monitoring your health statistics closely, you’ll likely be motivated to “pump up your numbers”. Most fitness apps also have a social feature where you can connect and compete with other similarly motivated people. For example, you can share your activity with other Apple Watch users so you can see each other’s progress. You can even invite them to competitions where participants can earn points and win awards.
Using the Apple Watch to monitor your health
The Apple Watch 5 comes equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope, optical heart sensor. It can even detect ambient light and noise levels. The Apple Watch can also use the activity data on your other Apple devices addition to sensor collected data. This tremendous amount of personal data can paint a very accurate picture of your health condition and health companies can come up with so many kinds of apps that can interpret this information to make it useful to you.
The choices you have in terms of health and fitness apps alone on the App Store can be mind-boggling. But to start, here are some of the more basic ones that you’ll likely find indispensable.
- Noise app – This app tells you if the noise levels in your environment are putting your hearing at risk. It can show decibel levels in real-time and alert you if it is getting too loud. Although this app may not seem all that necessary, it actually helps you prevent hearing loss. Sounds over 80 decibels contribute to long-term hearing loss but most are unaware when they are exposed to such levels.
- Period tracker – While this is something that’s not unique to the Apple Watch, it’s good to see that it now comes as a standard even on the iPhone. The Cycle Tracking app is particularly useful since irregular cycles can be indicative of conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility, osteoporosis, and the transition to menopause.
- Fall detection – This Apple Watch feature is particularly invaluable as it can actually help save lives. In fact, Apple even uploaded a video of people thanking them for the feature. Users can set up the feature so that it can sound an alert and call up someone if a fall is detected. This is particularly useful for seniors and recuperating patients.
- ECG app – The new heart rate sensor opened up a multitude of health monitoring possibilities for the Apple Watch. Now it can generate an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram and alert you of any irregularities in your heartbeats. These heartbeat issues are not always serious, but they can be a sign of an impending heart condition. This app can also measure heart rate variability and even predict VO2 max. This information is often critical to those who closely monitor their training.
- Breathe app – Taking a moment to calm down and breathe is also important in maintaining well-being. The Breathe App helps keep you by guiding you through a series of calming breaths. This is especially helpful to those who are not so familiar with meditation.
The Apple Watch can also be paired with a number of other health devices. For example, the Omron Evolv Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor allows the Apple Watch to log highly accurate BP information. Similarly, the Dexcom G6 connects to it via Bluetooth for constant monitoring of blood glucose levels. This eliminates the need for painful finger-pricking tests.
How about the competition?
Apple devices don’t always appeal to everyone because of their high price tag. If you are one of those who are not into Apple products, check out some of these alternatives that are practically at par with the Apple Watch.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 – if you’re already using a Samsung phone, then it’s a no-brainer to get this one. It also comes with its own smart assistant and running coach that gives you real-time feedback.
- Fitbit Versa 2 – Fitbit is an established name in the fitness wearables space. It comes at half the price of the Apple Watch and even has is its longer battery life.
- Huawei Watch GT 2 – This is a highly competitive device from one of China’s biggest phone makers. As expected, this is one of the most affordable in its class and also boasts an impressive battery life.
- Garmin Forerunner 245 – This is a formidable offering from the company which made its bones in the GPS devices industry. The Forerunner comes preloaded with its own apps for tracking things such as training load and running dynamics. It can also run way longer on a single charge.
- Polar M600 – Polar is also one of the more popular brands in the fitness space. While the M600 is frequently recommended, there are now a number of newer models from other brands that may give it a run for its price.
There is no doubt that the Apple Watch 5 is an impressive gadget that is capable of so many things. It can even hold its own in comparison to other devices specially designed for health and fitness. This, however, is to be expected from a gadget that retails at around $400. If you are particularly protective of your personal health data and don’t mind the premium pricing, then the Apple Watch is definitely the fitness smartwatch for you.
- Amanda Capritto. 5 ways the Apple Watch can keep you healthy[CNET]