To your health

hand-with-apple-watchSome reviewers have stated that the Apple Watch has not been nearly as earth-shattering as the iPhone was when it was first launched.

To that I say, it’s simply too early to make that comparison.

Remember, the iPhone required several versions before it began to really demonstrate its promise. In fact, one could argue that it wasn’t until the release of the iPhone 4 that the device felt truly cutting edge.

The iPhone 4 also set new standards as a beautifully designed and highly desirable object. I worked at a leading high-tech company at the time (2010), and I remember many of my colleagues bought their first iPhone when the iPhone 4 came out.

To a great many people, the iPhone 4 was a must-have product, and made Apple a major player in the smartphone market.

How the Apple Watch stacks up

In comparison, I think the first version of the Apple Watch has already achieved, in its own category, the same level of form and function demonstrated by the iPhone 4.iWatch-Hermes

Apple not only employed all of its institutional design and development knowledge with the Watch, but also brought aboard a cadre of industry people to help refine and market it.

The result, despite a fair number of critics, has been the rendering of a truly functional and fun device, even with its Version 1 designation.

In a previous post, I wrote about my early impressions of the Watch after several weeks of use.

Now, after seven months of use, how’s the Watch faring?

Fitness coach and monitor

Despite my delight in using the Watch in a variety of small ways—for example, as a remote control for Apple TV—the predominant application, at least for me, has been as a fitness coach and activity monitor. This is the area that I want to write about today.

fitness-coach-apple-watch

As a tech writer in the IT industry, I would regularly sit at my computer for hours at a time. I knew in my bones that this was unhealthy, and that I needed to change my behavior. I wanted to become more active, improve my fitness, and maybe lose a few pounds in the process.

When you’ve been doing something for years, however, change can be difficult. The Watch proved to be a real help.

The very first day I wore the Watch, it reminded me, every hour, to stand up and walk around for a minute, something that was easy to do and not particularly disruptive. Right away, the Watch was coaching me to mend my sedentary ways.

Of course, there’s more to the story.

Setting realistic goals

At the beginning, I wanted to start exercising regularly, but at the same time not put too much pressure on myself or beat myself up if I missed a day. Otherwise, I knew I’d be setting myself up for failure.

apple_watch_set_goalBut what was realistic? I began to consult my Activity monitor several times a day, and after a week or two, I began to see what my patterns were.

During this early period, I saw that I was burning 200-300 calories a day, and getting 10-15 minutes of exercise without really trying.

Surely, I could do better, but I wanted to start with a realistic goal. The Watch let me specify a daily exercise goal of calories to burn, and I selected 350 calories.

That was a little more than what I was doing in normal daily activity. I wanted to start ramping up my movement, so 350 calories seemed like a good place to start—a bit of a stretch, but achievable.

Knowledge is power

In fitness tracking, knowledge is power. The Watch records your daily activity, and stores data from each 24-hour period in your iPhone’s Health application.

iphone_activity

As you exercise, over days, weeks, and months, you can view (and appreciate) your history, set new goals, and make adjustments along the way.

As mentioned, I’ve been using the Watch for fitness tracking for about seven months now. Although I play tennis and golf, my primary exercise is brisk walking.

The difficult becomes routine

Each week, over this period, I’ve been bumping up my daily goal by 10 calories. Sometimes, if it has been a less active week, I might leave the goal as is for the next week. Apple_Watch_weekly_activity

As mentioned, I started at 350 calories per day, and, at this writing, I’m up to 480 calories a day. To achieve this latest goal, I have to walk about 9000 steps, or approximately five miles, each day.

Every Monday morning at 9 AM, the Apple Watch displays my progress for the previous week.

It feels really good when I see that I’ve walked 25 miles or more in a week. And, physically as well, I feel fit and healthy, despite the occasional aches and pains that accompany a 64-year-old body.

On average, over the seven-month stretch, I’ve been achieving my daily goal (and sometimes much more) five times a week. Although I slack off sometimes, I avoid getting down on myself, and simply resolve to try to do better.

It’s consistent, low-stress achievement, but achievement nonetheless. And its working.

So, is the Apple Watch a life-changing device, as impactful in its own right, as the iPhone? For me, there’s no doubt about it.

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