Do you currently wear a smartwatch? I have worn multiple versions of Fitbit before switching over to an Apple Watch recently. Those different watches have covered a span of 12-years. Collecting and tracking data on my Fitbit was fun and motivational. Even more so after seeing my dashboard numbers surpass 20 million steps and 40,000 flights of stairs climbed during part of that time.
During the past month, however, I decided to switch over to an Apple Watch because of their platform and ecosystem. The design and innovation of Apple Watch 5 series compared to what I was wearing was comparable to getting called up to the big leagues from Triple A. Now you have Apple Watch 6 series with even more features like an altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, sleep tracking, HRV, and new workout feature.
Here is a quick look at just a few of the many cool features on the Apple Watch 5 Series (and HRV on Series 6).
Apple Watch Activity Tracker
One of the best features on the Apple Watch is the activity tracker feature. This, depending on your choice of watch faces, can be front and center on the watch. There are three activity rings that one tries to close each day: MOVE, EXERCISE & STAND.
Move is as you would expect, any movement is recorded such as daily steps and stairs. In Moves you have a daily calorie goal that you try to pass. Next, is Exercise where you set a daily exercise time like 30 or 60 minutes as examples. The third and final ring is Stand. There are message pop-ups to remind you to get up and stand more throughout your day. The idea is to stand for a portion of each hour during a 12-hour day. Throughout the day you see more of the ring fill with a specific color (red/green/blue) as you move, exercise and stand more throughout your day.
This can get potentially downloaded to Apple Health which if you’re a data geek like me – you enjoy recording, tracking and analyzing your exercise data. After 180 days of wearing the Apple Watch, a “Trends” feature goes live with additional insight in each of those three areas, move, exercise and stand.
The Apple Watch VO2 Max Feature
A second informative feature is the ability to obtain an estimated maximal oxygen uptake. Know in the science world as simply VO2 max. This is the maximal amount of oxygen a person can uptake and utilize per minute of intense exercise. It’s measured in ml/kg/min. and here are the average values for VO2 max. Keep in mind world class cross-country skiers have topped 95 ml/kg/min.
An average sedentary male about – 35 to 40 ml/kg/min
An average sedentary female about – 27 to 30 ml/kg/min
There is also a formula for you to calculate your VO2 max number manually using 15 x Max. HR / Resting HR = VO2 max. In my case, 15 x 165 / 52 = 47.5 ml/kg/min., and when my Apple Watch tested me the first time it came out to 47, so pretty close. It is well-known in the sports and fitness world that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will elicit the best results when someone is trying to increase VO2 max levels.
Ability to Record & Track HRV: Heart Rate Variability
Heart rate variability (HRV) is basically the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. The greater the HRV, the more ready the body is to perform and the nervous system is considered “balanced.” The system responsible for this is the autonomic nervous system. HRV should not be confused with heart rate. They are different. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute while HRV is the number of milliseconds in between beats. It is a good overall indicator of health and well-being. Things like stress, lack of recovery between workouts and inadequate amount of sleep will affect HRV. HRV can also be used to predict if someone has a predisposition to a potential heart attack. According to the training and recovery product, Whoop, “the middle 50 percent of 20-25 year olds usually have an average HRV in the 55-105 range, while 60-65 year olds tend to be between 25-45.”
Apps Now Accessible Right From Your Wrist
Personally, to have access to a particular workout app, such as the Jefit app, now available on my wrist, lets me put down the phone for workouts. Not worrying about keeping track of where my phone is during workouts is great. The Apple Watch 5 Series model features 32GB of internal storage for music, apps, and other content. The different features mentioned in this article are just a small sample size found on the Apple Watch. There are also items like a just breath pop-up that has you relax and focus on your breath for a short period to check your heart rate. Having this type innovative technology on your wrist will only increase the chances of building healthy habits. In addition, it should also help people increase their activity level as they work towards achieving their exercise goals. Stay Strong!
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