It seems all the ordinary electronics in our lives — cell phones, televisions, and now watches — are getting smarter. But watches are becoming useful for keeping track of more intimate things than the news and the latest podcasts; smart watches can collect and display data about your body.
These devices track some of your vital signs all day and every day, recording your heart rate, sleep cycles, and physical activity levels. Using this data, the watch can be used to interpret health advice. For instance, you might judge the effectiveness of your workout or get a better nights’ sleep.
The watches are most often used to enhance fitness regimens to achieve certain goals. Many watches, for example, calculate an estimated calorie burn based on the heart rate it records during a workout. The watch keeps tabs on how many steps its wearer walks per day, the person’s resting heart rate, and even their running distances and speeds.
And to motivate their users to do fitness-related activities, fitness trackers often come enhanced with the ability to play music, podcasts, and even motivation from personal trainers. Some people have found them extremely motivating; however, they do have a dark side.
“I don’t actively recommend fitness trackers to my clients,” Christina Chu, a certified personal trainer in Boston, told The Daily Meal in an email. “Fitness trackers can be expensive, and my clients already spend so much of their budget on training that asking them to buy a tracker can be an unwanted burden.”
“I don’t recommend that [my clients] track calorie burn,” Chen told The Daily Meal, “because I want to instill the habit of working out because it makes you feel good, not to burn calories.”
Even personal trainers find themselves tempted to take their relationship with their fitness tracker too far. Christina Chu uses a Whoop brand fitness tracking watch.
“I remember when I first got my tracker, I became obsessed with the numbers,” Chu said. “I’d beat myself over a low recovery number (typically due to lack of sleep or extraneous stress) and become stressed over this number, creating a vicious cycle.”
Now, though, Chu has cultivated a healthier — and even beneficial — relationship with her smart watch.
“I learned to use my wearable for the better, which means taking this data in as a form of information, rather than judgement,” said Chu. “My wearable has helped me see things that I didn't deem to be a problem.”
Using Heart Rate Variability (HRV) data and sleep monitoring, Chu has developed stress-management practices and learned to prioritize sleep.
“I love to see the progress I made,” she explained. “To look at ‘good’ months and reflect on why they’re good and ‘bad’ months and what I can do to change them.”
Nancy Chen also sees some benefits of using these fitness trackers.
“I like the functionality that reminds you to stand up each hour,” she said. “I think that we spend too much time sitting, and that reminder is great to nudge someone to get up and move. It’s the small things that make a difference!”
If you’re looking for those benefits, rather than to obsess over the numbers and calories, the only other qualms these trainers had with the watches were the awkward tan lines and the fact that they really only match with casual and fitness wear. But once you decide you want to try wearing a fitness tracking watch, it can be tough to decide which option is best. There are dozens of brands out there, including Apple Watch, Garmin, FitBit, and (Chu’s favorite) the Whoop watch.
The reviewers at Best Reviews purchased and tested different brands. After assessing the array of brands with a team of researchers, they recommend the Fitbit Versa Smartwatch for its unique features and convenient functions. The watch also has workouts programmed in with on-screen coaches. Who knows — you might find a fun new workout or two!
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