It’s hard not to notice – in recent years, so-called smart sports watches have become an essential accessory for athletes of all levels. When I got my very first Fitbit, 7 years ago, trackers were still fairly rare – now they are on the wrists of most seasoned athletes, and they are gaining popularity among a much broader population. Smartwatches are becoming much more discreet and lighter, less cumbersome – which suits the female audience, and more generally, all those who want to wear their watch continuously, and not just during sports sessions.
As a result, you are probably wondering, if you haven’t done so already, if you should invest in a connected sports watch, and how it would change your daily life. Let’s look at some very good reasons to get started – and some downsides to keep in mind too.
What are the key features of a connected sports watch, and how are they meant to support a healthier lifestyle?
- Daily step tracking – this feature allows the user to monitor their daily activity levels and encourage them to move more – essential for maintaining a healthy weight (or losing weight) and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
- GPS tracking – this feature allows users to track their outdoor workouts, such as running and hiking, and monitor their distance, pace, and route, which can help them increase their fitness level and endurance.
- Calorie tracking – most watches offer a daily calorie count (based on the user’s body composition, physical activity, step count, and heart rate), which can be very useful if the user wants to control their weight, although the measurements can sometimes be wildly inaccurate. Keep in mind though that there is no tool allowing the general public to know precisely how many calories they burn daily available as of now – but one can always track their food intake thanks to apps like MyFitnessPal.
- Heart rate monitoring – this feature allows the user to keep an eye on their heart rate during exercise – it measures the effort being put in and allows the user to monitor their training zones and make sure they are not pushing too hard (or not enough). The heart rate on smartwatches can sometimes be inaccurate, but it generally gives a good estimate. For a more accurate measurement, you can get a heart rate monitor belt that connects to your watch.
- Sleep monitoring – this feature allows users to monitor the duration and quality of their daily sleep – often underrated but one of the key pillars of good health, good recovery and reduced risks of chronic diseases.
- Sharing features – most watches send the daily information to an app (either the brand’s app, like Garmin or Polar, or third-party apps like Strava) – which allows the user to share their progress with their loved ones (or strangers!) – a bit of social pressure (in a good way) to stay on track.
Should you get a connected sport watch?
Yes, to keep an eye on your activity – calories, steps, physical activity. Whether you are a beginner or experienced, having the ability to quantify your effort is important to make your new habits long-lasting.
Yes, if you want to improve your performance – having access to data is the only way to monitor your progress tangibly.in addition to GPS, most watches offer “training” modes, which can motivate beginners and help seasoned athletes get the extra “push”.
Yes, if you are willing to spend a bit of money for it – if the cheapest smartwatches cost around SGD 150, you should expect to pay about SGD 400-500 for a good mid-range model – which can discourage some people. However, you should see it as a long-term investment – most watches last for several years and require little to no repair cost during their lifespan.
No, if you are just not interested in moving more. Owning a fitness tracker will only get you that far – you need the initial motivation and the will to improve to see the real benefits.
No, if too much data makes you anxious. Not everyone enjoys knowing exactly how many steps they take daily, and some users might feel unnecessarily pressured by it. If that sounds like you, you could perhaps borrow a friend’s tracker for a day and try it out first.
In conclusion – A fitness tracker is an excellent accessory and can help you adopt a more active and healthy lifestyle. It is a fantastic addition to anyone’s fitness routine, provided that they use the data intelligently.
Finally, the latest models of fitness trackers are not only providing sport-related data, but also focusing on holistic wellness (sleep, recovery, meditation, breathing etc.). A bit of help to make better choices every day never hurts.