This post wraps up my three months’ worth of trialling the Apple Watch, and it is really interesting to be able to look through my data and see the trends in my stats. I’ve got used to having a little gadget on my wrist sending me buzzing activity updates and social media information. I definitely enjoyed learning a little bit more about myself, and seeing how my body’s behaviour changed throughout the day.
For me, the biggest behavioural change was being aware of how long I had been sitting down and actively trying to stand and move about at least once an hour. Throughout the trial I fell in and out of patterns of using the Breathe app to take a mindful five minutes.
I’m not sure how the watch prompts you to use the Breathe app, but if I hadn’t used it in a couple of days, it would notify me less and lead me to a continual cycle of not using it for days. On days where I had been working at home, I got up to take a walk having seen that my exercise and activity levels were very low.
For the most part, the watch is really straight forward. Lots of data is collected without active input. Opening certain apps had the watch tracking specific workouts, running a breath cycle or providing me with a timer in seconds. The only external app that I downloaded was the Seconds timer app, which made setting up a training circuit for myself in the gym a breeze. I decided not to use the wallet function for contactless payments, although it seems secure.
The exercise tracker on the watch was my most used setting. A recent update to the Apple Watch added even more sports, which helps the watch to differentiate my yoga practice from indoor cycling, which come up with very different heart rate readings! Without setting the exercise tracker on, lower impact activities aren’t picked up or specified into a sport so the tracker was essential. I also really liked the Breathe app, as mentioned in my last post, for encouraging mini meditations sessions.
The biggest setback, for me, was the low battery life. Unless I ignored the watch all day and kept it on airplane mode, it required at least daily charging. Unlike a phone, which can be charged as I work or relax, there were limited times in the day that I could charge the watch without losing out on data tracking. I preferred not to waste energy by having it charging all night, plus in some cases I was relying upon it’s silent alarm to wake me up without disturbing others on early mornings. I had a few days during my US visit, when I wasn't able to wear the watch too much because there were limited numbers of power adaptors available.
I also found that putting the watch on airplane mode, or turning off my phone’s Bluetooth, was necessary to stop distracting social media notifications from coming through to my wrist all day.
I did have some concerns about getting too obsessed about my exercise levels, but I have managed to use the watch in a healthy way in these three months. I strongly believe that if a fitness tracker is making you feel stressed, guilty or anxious then you shouldn’t use it, regardless of how motivating or interesting the device is.
I personally found it really interesting and highly motivating to see the data tracking and the coloured loops close as I reached my goals.
Sometimes it did feel like a faff, especially when the charging issue mentioned earlier arose, but overall my experience was positive. I’ll be continuing to use the watch, at least for the time being.
I went to my first spin class since using the watch recently, and found it eye opening to see how my heart rate rose. My friend is a doctor so it was quite fun to quiz him about my average resting and walking heart rates and see that they were in the healthy range.
Whilst there is a risk of being over-informed and overly connected to too much technology, I found selecting the appropriate settings helped to use a smart watch in a way that worked for me.