Five Helpful Features Found on the Apple Watch

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.

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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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How to Avoid Weight Gain with HIT

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The human body is at its peak, physiologically speaking, between the ages of about 18-29 years old. Bodily changes occur thereafter, like losses in strength and aerobic capacity coupled with changes in bodyweight and body composition. There is a significant, yet preventable, downward shift with each of those variables after the third decade of life. How to avoid weight gain becomes a central focus for the majority of our population after about the third decade.

5 Ways to Avoid Weight Gain: Focus on Lifestyle Changes

The following suggestions need to be done consistently each week in order to change the way you look and feel. It’s not some type of quick fix!

Physical Activity Related

  • Never Stop Strength Training. This one is a must for each one of us, especially as we age. The key is building a strong base during the early years (teenage through 20’s) and then maintain that strength with a few weekly strength training sessions. Yes, for the rest of your life. Look at all the older people you know who don’t exercise and lead an un-active lifestyle. How are they doing with that?
  • Increase Activity. I’m not talking about long, slow, aerobic exercise here. The goal is to turn off and put down all screens each day. Then, work a little harder and find creative ways to increase your activity level each day. A good definition of physical activity is “all activities, at any intensity, performed during any time of day or night. It includes exercise and incidental activity integrated into daily activity.” For me, its about making sure I walk and move enough to move 5-7 miles a day (about 10-14,000/steps) on top of exercise.
  • HIT It Hard. HIT refers to high-intensity interval training. It can have a positive effect on fat-loss, prevent weight gain, and improve VO2 max. There is also a great deal of research on the benefits on cardiometabolic health (blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol level). Try a minimum of 1-2 HIT sessions a week with multiple days of rest between bouts to take advantage of these benefits. This could be the key to how you avoid weight gain.

Nutrition Related

  • Watch What You Put into Your Mouth. It can all come down to being that simple. Begin to think of food as fuel for your body. Don’t eat it unless it’s high octane fuel that can help your body. We all know fad diets don’t work, long-term. Eating real, unprocessed food, like in the Mediterranean Diet, is the goal.
  • AVOID Added Sugar. We know it’s in everything. So a little is not a big deal. But try to eat less than 38 grams/added sugar/day/men and 25 grams/add sugar/day/women. Doing this will add years to your life and keep unwanted weight off, especially around the abdominal and hip area.

How HIT Improves Overall Health

One of the leading researchers on the benefits of HIT is Martin Gibala, PhD from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. One of his many research studies (2014) looked at the effects of short-term interval training using a 10-minute protocol with only 1-minute of hard exercise. The results were various health improvements in overweight adults. In summary, the study showed 3-minutes of all out exercise performed within a 30-minute routine (includes warm-up & cool-down), 3x/week, improved cardiometabolic health factors. This study included 18 supervised training sessions over a 6-week period. As a result, improvements in the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, blood pressure and VO2 max were some of the outcomes.

How HIT Improves Body Composition

A second study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2019), compared the effects moderate-intensity (MOD) exercise with HIT. The research groups looked at 786 studies before choosing 36 that met their meta-analysis study criteria. Interval training and MOD both reduce body fat percentage. Interval training, however, provided a 28.5% greater reduction in total absolute fat mass compared to MOD. Other research has shown that HIT is superior to MOD in many other areas. HIT promotes greater increases in VO2max, ventricular function, improvements in insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, lower ratings of perceived exertion, higher levels of enjoyment and higher adherence than MOD.

Jefit Compliments HIT

Adding weekly HIT sessions with Jefit strength training is suggested if weight-loss and other cardiometabolic health benefits are the goal. Many of the Jefit home circuit-based training programs pair nicely with HIT sessions. The first is Advanced Bodyweight Circuit and a second option is a program I’m doing right now, Total Body Circuit. Enjoy and Stay Strong!

Suggested Reading

The One-Minute Workout, Martin Gibala, PhD, 2017.

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