The introduction of wearable technology over the last few years has offered a new way to track workouts, fitness challenges, and even the quality of your sleep.
Unsurprisingly, Apple and its Apple Watch line have emerged as an industry leader. Each new Apple Watch generation and each update to its Watch OS (operating system) have introduced incredible capabilities and options for users to better understand their health and fitness goals.
With its very first Apple Watch, Apple introduced the concept of activity rings – three rings for users to visibly track their daily progress in three areas: Move, Exercise, and Stand.
The Move ring is the outermost ring and tracks the number of active calories you’ve burned for the day. There’s an important distinction between calories burned and active calories burned. While your body naturally burns calories throughout the day, the watch tracks active calories as what you’re burning during activity.
The next ring is Exercise. The goal here is 30 minutes each day. By monitoring your heart rate and whether you’re upright or seated, the watch will track the time you spend exercising. What’s imperfect about this metric is that it could be intentional exercise – like going for a walk – or unintentional exercise – like going up and down stairs.
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More on Tracking Activities
The innermost ring is Stand. This is simply the number of hours that you’ve spent standing for at least one minute. The daily goal is 12 hours, so it’s arguably the easiest to achieve. If you’ve been sitting for too long, the watch will even alert you with a notification that it’s time to stand up.
Each time you meet a daily goal, the watch will let you know with a celebratory alert. Close all three in a day? There’s a bigger celebratory alert. It’ll even reward you with medals when you maintain a streak, set your longest streak, or achieve a Perfect Week in which you hit one or all three goals every day that week.
All three goals are customizable. Not sure where to start? The Apple Watch offers weekly recommendations based on your activity level and what you achieved the previous week. If you’re consistently meeting your Move goal, it will suggest you increase your calorie goal.
A Weekly Summary notification, delivered on Monday, shows your performance for the week in a bar graph.
One of the Apple Watch’s more popular features is its Workout Tracker. Over the years, Apple has increased the number of available workouts to track. Now, users can ask the watch to track activities like a walk or a run or even pilates or golf.
With any workout, your activity is credited towards your daily goals. This, and the watch’s other activity tracking, makes it easy to draw a correlation between your daily activity level and your health.
Another excellent Apple Watch feature is the ability to share your activity with friends and invite them to 7-day competitions. It’s a fun way to motivate each other, be accountable, and enjoy a little friendly competition.
With many of Apple’s apps and services, the notifications you get are very customizable. On vacation and need a break from your activity goals? No problem, just turn off your activity notifications and reminders in the Watch app on your iPhone.
Since the Apple Watch has limited screen real estate to get into much detail or history, your iPhone keeps information on your progress, workout history, goals, competitions, and more in the Fitness app. This is a great place to see your activity over time and to better understand how just a little bit of intentional activity each day can go a long way in keeping you healthy. Plus, it stores all of your virtual awards – medals, challenges, and competition victories against your friends.
Apple recently introduced its Apple Watch Series 8 with the tagline “A healthy leap ahead.” New features to this series include menstrual cycle tracking, sleep tracking, and blood oxygen level tracking.
In a relatively short period of time, wearable fitness trackers have evolved from tracking just one or two simple metrics – like daily steps and heart rate – to being these multidimensional health and fitness trackers that users of all types will find useful.
Whether you’re trying to set a personal best marathon time or just getting started on a new fitness goal, the Apple Watch will be an incredible companion in your journey.
Apple has certainly staked its claim as a fitness tracking industry leader, and it’s clear that they plan to continue pushing the boundaries of the impact these small devices can have on users’ overall health.