How the Apple Watch can improve your health
Keith Burton’s weight-loss guide for Apple Watch owners offers tips and app recommendations to help you get into shape
Welcome to our guide to getting into shape with the Apple Watch. We discuss the best apps to install on your watch (and how best to use the device’s excellent preinstalled apps as part of a fitness regime), and offer some tips that will help you boost your fitness in a safe and healthy way.
Monitor your water intake
A regular intake of water will rapidly improve your skin, flush toxins and take the edge of your appetite. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry you’re actually thirsty. Just taking water alone is a huge step in improving your health. We use WaterMinder (£2.99 from fave.co/2q3sVYw) to regulate and promote regular daily water intake; this has an Apple Watch version that nudges you to drink at regular intervals.
Control your calorie intake
Controlling calorie intake is far easier than worrying about nutrition levels. Get calorie intake under control first and worry about balancing out your nutrition when you’ve reached the point where calorie intake is under control.
If you want to lose weight, calorie control is far more important than exercise. Plus, exercise will be easier once the weight is off. Don’t expect to lose loads of weight through exercise alone, as exercise will also drive you to consume more calories to replace expended energy.
Control your calories to lose weight and understand that exercise is there to help you strengthen your body, muscles, heart and lungs. We recommend MyFitnessPal (free with in-app purchases from fave.co/2q5QQVp) to control calories and nutrition.
Step counting and exercise
Motion 24/7 (99p from fave.co/2q3iu7p) is a good sleep tracker and step counter for the iPhone, but the second part of that equation was quickly taken over by the Apple Watch when it arrived.
Filling our rings on the Apple Watch each day has become a natural part of my day. My Activity ring is now set to challenge me to burn 600 active calories per day. That’s literally double what it was the day we got our Watch.
As of writing this, we’ve closed all three circles every day without fail for 732 days in a row.
The Apple Watch has two preinstalled apps that help you with exercise: Activity (which covers all of your day-to-day movements, motivating you to fill in the rings illustrated above) and Workout (which deals with dedicated cardio exercise sessions, offering separate workouts for running, cycling, swimming and so on).
Bear in mind that while the Apple Watch Series 2 has GPS and can therefore provide accurate measurements when you run, the first-gen and Series 1 models do not. They will piggyback on the GPS of an associated iPhone if it’s close enough, but otherwise they have to guess the distance based on your number of steps and the information they have about your stride length.
Each time you ‘train’ the watch by taking it out running with an iPhone, it gets a bit smarter at guessing distances when the iPhone’s not there, so it’s worth putting in a bit of time to help it learn about your running style.
Finally, consider picking up some wireless headphones (see our round-up on page 33), so you can listen to music directly from your watch while out running.
To the Watch, we’ve added HeartWatch (£2.99 from fave. co/2q3l4uf), which acts as a superbly detailed heart monitor and sleep monitor. It will warn you if your heartbeat gets too high or too low and enables you to follow trends so you’ll get early warning of any potential heart problems long before anything bad happens.
Case study: Losing 50 pounds with an Apple Watch
With health becoming the next growth sector for technology, this writer decided to carry out an experiment on myself to see if apps and devices really could help us. I’d been 18 stone for far too long and at the age of 45 I could feel that weight starting to affect my joints and bones.
Knowing the Apple Watch was on the horizon (this was a couple of years ago), and reasoning it was going to be a health wearable, I set about curating some useful apps for my iPhone in preparation. After much experimentation, we settled on WaterMinder, MyFitnessPal and Motion 24/7.
Over the course of my journey (2.5 years) I’ve lost 50lbs and kept it off. You lose weight not by dieting but by changing your diet, and that’s what apps and devices enable you to do. To mark a year of having my Apple Watch, and having regained health and happiness, I sent Tim Cook himself an email as I’d heard he reads customer emails just as Steve Jobs used to. He was kind enough to send me an email back that day congratulating me for my achievement.