Tag Archives: applewatch

Some thoughts on using Apple devices to get fit

I have now become one of those people who tries to close their rings every day! I tease myself, but I am also happy to try and do it. I find my fitness has definitely improved from the low point it was during the pandemic.

Here’s some tips and things I’ve learned along the way that might help you too if you decide to get fitter this way.

Start of with the default goals when it comes to your rings. You want goals that are achievable but not too easy. To determine that, I recommend you use the watch for a week or so to get some measure of how you are doing. Now it is time to determine your goals.

When it comes to determining your goals, I suggest you go into the Fitness app on your phone. Go to the Summary tab, click on the box labelled Activity. Scroll down to Trends. You can click on Move or Exercise or Stand to see how well you are doing. I found I could meet the default Stand and Exercise goals, but I was having problems with the 900 cal/day goal for Move. I was achieving about 750 cal/day. To stretch and encourage myself, I wanted to change my move goal to 800 cal/day. 

To changing goals, you can go into the Fitness app on your phone. Go to the Summary tab, click on the green avatar on the top right and then click on Change Goals. It’s pretty straightforward to do that.

Now all you have to do is get off the couch or step away from the deck and close those rings!

I found the Stand goal is helpful for me because it was the first one I could achieve. Whenever I don’t achieve it I now I am sitting down or lying down too much.

Once I had the Stand goal in hand, I went to tackle the Exercise goal. While typical workouts are a good way to achieve that, so to is a brisk walk. I found I was able to get my heart rate up to 70% of my maximum heart rate just by walking. You likely will too. If I do nothing else in terms of exercise, walking alone can get me to meet my exercise goal.

I hate to say it, but it is easy to cheat on your Exercise goal. I found this out when I decided to include housework as exercise. To do that, I picked “Other” as a workout on my watch. After 15 minutes or so of housework, I stopped the workout and checked the data, only to find my heart rate was much lower than a brisk walk (not to mention other workouts). I think housework is good for helping me achieve my Move goals and Stand goals, but I will not include it off my Exercise goals. But that’s just me, though. Housework can be hard work and for some it definitely counts as exercise. (For more on other workouts, read this.)

Speaking of heart rates, I found them too high and reset mine. These should be the correct target heart rates. You can learn how to change them, as well as display them, here: use heart rate zone tracking with the Apple Watch.

I found the Move goal hardest to reach. Stand and Exercise are easy to measure. If you find that too and you need help with meeting it, read this. I learned a lot from that piece.

Finally, I was disappointed to find all this exercise was not doing much for my VO2 Max numbers. Then I read how smartwatches aren’t very good at measuring this. At best, you want to see the number trend up. But don’t put too much value in a given number.



How to get better sleep using your Apple Watch and the Health app

I wear my Apple Watch every night while I sleep, and I have found it’s been helping me sleep better.

My watch sends a ton of information to my phone during the day, including information about how I am sleeping. When I wake in the morning, I head over to the Sleep summary in the Health app on my iPhone and check how I did that night. Here’s an example:

You can see this was a pretty good night for me. I slept for 7 hours, and I managed to get in a fairly decent amount (for me) of deep sleep. I don’t know if this is typical for most people, but it is for me. I have a number of deep sleep periods, about 4 periods of REM sleep, and the rest is core sleep. You can see I woke up twice, but barely for any time at all. I also found I was refreshed and alert the next morning. 

That wasn’t typical though. If you look below, you see my sleep for the week:

There’s quite a number of days where I was awake for large periods of time. Every day I would wake up and see that and think: what can I do to fix that? Some days it would be something simple, like the room was too warm. Or I ate too late. Other days it is due to more difficult things like too much stress. (Stressful days tend to cause other issues, like eating badly, which compounds the problem.) 

Before I had this data, I would let myself sleep badly for a long stretch of time. Now when I start seeing I am not getting enough sleep, I work hard to get the right conditions to get a better sleep the next night.

There are plenty of things you can do to maintain good health: eat well, exercise, and sleep well. The Apple Watch can help with all of those things. If you can get one with these features, I highly recommend it.

P.S. Why is deep sleep important? It could be the time your brain gets cleaned. To see what I mean, go here.