Monday, January 9, 2017

Health Watch

It was already a year of gadgets for me, this Christmas, receiving a drone and a new tablet. I didn't expect a smart watch to be thrown in as an added bonus.

It was DW who wanted a watch to monitor her exercise and her health. She had looked at a Fitbit, had tried one on at Costco. But some negative reviews made her reluctant to settle on this popular device. She wasn't going to get herself an Apple product, especially after she and I had moved away from iPhones and had become Android users.

My new tablet was my final move away from Apple. (I'm allergic to them, after all.)

DW finally settled on a Samsung Gear Fit2. On Christmas morning, one was waiting for her under the tree. (She had picked it out, price-shopped online, found a sale at Best Buy, bought it, and handed it to me. I just wrapped it and put it with the other gifts—like the drone and tablet I picked out for myself and the suitcase that she had ordered for herself, online.)

When DW tried on her new gift, she discovered that the wrist strap was too big for her. When she had tried the Fitbit at Costco, she had to move from a small strap to a large, and assumed that it would be the same for the Samsung device.

She was wrong.

For Christmas Day, though, DW played with the watch, downloaded a new face (she didn't like the default one nor the others that were provided through the accompanying smartphone app, Samsung Gear. She measured her steps, the number of stairs she climbed, the number of coffees and glasses of water she consumed, and tracked her heart rate. She deemed the watch a good device, and vowed to exchange it for a smaller size on Boxing Day.

On the next day, however, she asked me if I would like one of these watches, too, and gave me the large one to wear until she would go to Best Buy. Either she would exchange this watch for a smaller one or I would keep this one (we reset it and I chose my own custom face), and she would pick up another one, in her size.

That's what happened.

I haven't worn a watch in years. The last watch that I had stayed on my wrist, in all conditions, for more than 10 years. When I lived in Korea, I discovered that if I removed the watch, it would stop, and would restart seconds after being secured to my wrist. It wouldn't function without me.

This new watch is sort of the same way. It can't track my activities nor count my heart rate unless it's securely on my wrist, so the only time I take it off, to charge it, is when I'm in the shower or if I'm awake but not moving, such as when I'm at the kitchen table or watching TV.

DW has placed her charging dock in our kitchen: I've put mine in the bedroom, so either of us can plug in when we're upstairs or on the main level.

Since I've worn the device, I've noticed that I pay far more attention to my behaviour than I used to. I set goals for the number of daily steps, for the number of floors I walk up, the number of glasses of water I consume, and the amount of physical activity I do.

The watch will even prompt me when I've been inactive for 50 minutes, and I listen. I get off my butt and I move. At work, I'll head to the kitchen and make myself a coffee (I can track those) or refill my water mug. I'll take the longest possible route to the kitchen and back to my desk, often completing a couple of laps around the inside perimeter of the building.

Sadly, my office is in a one-floor building, so I can't climb stairs. At home, however, I find myself in the basement and racing to the bedroom, so that I can count two flights.

But I can program different types of workouts, which the watch monitors, from walking, to spin classes, to riding my road bike (when I return to that, in the spring).

The watch synchronizes with a Samsung app on my phone, S Health, and I can also count the calories I consume during the day, but I had a similar app on my old iPhone and I found it too time-consuming to enter everything I put in my mouth, so I don't use that part of the S Health app.

I sleep with the smart watch and pay close attention to how much sleep I receive. The device will tell me how long I remain motionless, when I'm in a deep sleep, and when I'm in a light-sleep state. So far, it has rated my sleep as mostly poor, because I receive less than seven hours of sleep, and usually less than six-and-a-half hours of actual rest.

When the alarm on my smartphone goes off, I can control whether to snooze or to shut it off with a simple tap or flick of my finger.

The watch also lets me know when I am contacted through my social-media apps and when my phone is ringing.

This gadget is one of the three that I received over Christmas, and even though I didn't ask for it, it's one that I use the most, is one that I think will help me to keep moving, and will be one that I find valuable in keeping me healthy at a time when my foot, which is working against me, is keeping my drive to stay active at low levels.

And now, I have to get up. My watch is vibrating on my wrist, telling me that I've been sitting here too long. The vibration is it's way of saying, "Okay, buddy, blog time is over. Get off your fat ass and start moving!"

I obey.

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