Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Apple Watch can guide you towards fitness goals


It was 12:35 on a Tuesday afternoon and I was just finishing lunch when I felt a light tap on my wrist. The intruder was my Apple Watch telling me I had been sitting on my rump for too long. I needed to stand up and move around.
It seems I have paid several hundred dollars for an electronic nag, one that I hope will cajole and encourage me toward a more healthy lifestyle.
Like other smart watches, the hot-selling Apple Watch can perform a multitude of tasks. For example, I can make and answer phone calls on my wrist, just like Dick Tracy from the old comic strip. The watch also displays news and sports alerts, text messages and the titles of emails I receive. It will play music, show weather forecasts and radar and pay for coffee at Starbucks or shampoo at Walgreen’s.
But the features that may turn out to be the most helpful for me and other wearers are the ones that monitor and coach our physical activity and exercise. It comes with two built-in apps, Activity and Workout, that monitor your movements and there are at least a dozen more apps from third parties that will support your fitness goals and programs.
Activity is an advanced pedometer. It tracks your steps as you walk or climb stairs, logs how often you stand up and charts how much true exercise you get during a 12-hour period. Users can set personal goals and see the progress charted by a trio of circle that are always easy to view by day or by month.
The Workout app measures your performance against your goals for different exercise routines. The app is set up to monitor walking, running, rowing, biking and sessions on an elliptical machine. And you can create your own workout, like situps, for example, or stretches.
Although the Apple Watch is water resistant, Apple cautions against using it to track swimming or other water exercises.
The watch also has a built-in monitor that will calculate your heart rate. It uses sensors on the back side of the watch that pulses LED light onto your skin surface to measure blood flow.
Here are some of the other fitness apps that work with the Apple Watch:
  • MyFitnessPal is a diet tracker and calorie counter that displays a summary of your progress toward your goals on the watch. It also shows you if you’ve earned a dessert my burning enough calories during a workout.
  • RunKeeper, the popular app for runners, will let you use the Apple Watch to start, stop, and pause your run and show your pace and completed distance at a glance.
  • Map My Run uses GPS tracking to record your favorite runs and store them for return trips. It also works for walks and bike rides.
  • Pocket Yoga shows your pose, time remaining and calories burned on your wrist.


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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