Most fitness products on the market are either liked or disliked by the majority. Smartwatches, on the other hand, divide the market like no other product. On one end, you have got the camp of people who adore them. But many people also see them as nothing more than a waste of money. So, which one to believe? Is there any value and benefits of using smartwatches for our training? Let's find out.
What Are Smartwatches?
Despite their name, smartwatches are not really just watches. I personally would rather call this a smart gadget as watches are to me something emotional. However, smartwatches are rather computers that do a lot more than tell us what the time is.
The modern smartwatch offers a touchscreen display, a wide range of options, and an ability to be paired to your phone. Some of these watches also offer many apps and 'watch phone' capabilities, allowing us even to make and receive phone calls from them.
What Benefits Do Smartwatches Offer?
The most apparent benefit of smartwatches is versatility. Rather than just seeing the time, you have access to numerous functions that can make your everyday life easier. Often a smartwatch includes also a set of sensors to track some additional information, steps, heart rate, blood pressure, you name it.
Another benefit (that can also turn into a drawback though) is that you can customize it to show notifications instantly being it e-mails, texts, calls, or a push notification from any app on your phone. If attending to such notifications as quickly as possible is a priority, then a smartwatch can be valuable.
When it comes to training, a smartwatch can reveal some more benefits. For example:
- Keep count of daily steps, calories burned, and heart rate.
- Use a watch to map a run without carrying a (heavy) phone.
- Time a full workout or time recovery periods to prevent slacking off.
Some more expensive models are also waterproof, making them an excellent pick for swimmers to time laps and such. Also, if you typically use a note-taking app (such as Evernote, OneNote, etc.) to log your workouts, there are more sophisticated solutions when using a smartwatch. Workout apps, such as the Strong App I am using, would allow you to do it all from your wrist.
Are There Any Downsides to Using a Smartwatch?
As with most things, smartwatches also offer a few downsides. Yes, having a smartwatch can be beneficial, and they offer versatility. We can use them for our everyday tasks, and we can also track our fitness with them. The problem is, a smartwatch can turn into a massive distraction for many people, and that can hinder their training.
For example, if you find yourself always having to answer e-mails, text messages, and calls while exercising, you can see why a watch might be a problem. Also, if you tend to use your watch every time you glance at it, that can break up your workouts and make you waste time.
Another drawback of smartwatches is that they might not be as accurate when tracking fitness parameters such as step count, heart rate, and calories burned. Granted, smartwatch manufacturers are working hard to improve their algorithms and make their products more valuable. But, for the moment, you should not rely too much on these metrics.
Just as an example, the heart rate. A smartwatch collects data from your wrist. According to recent research, however, this method might not be useful for some people and certain activities, resulting in inaccurate heart monitoring.
Smartwatches also have a short battery life, and some you even need to charge at least once every two days. If you use your watch more often, you might have to charge it every night. And finally, as a relatively new technology, smartwatches are also pricey - a decent model will be in the $300-500 range.
Which one is the best Smartwatch?
That is a great question - as always with technology, this changes almost on a monthly basis. According to Men'sHealth, these are the five best smartwatches for fitness in 2021:
- Apple Watch Series 6
- Garmin fēnix 6
- Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2
- Fitbit Sense
- Garmin Forerunner 745
Similar to smartphones, there are a lot of personal preferences when it becomes to brands, operating systems used, ecosystem, etc. You might want to check which one works best with your phone and provides the functionality needed for your fitness activity. Many friends of mine use Garmin products for running and cycling. I personally use the Apple Watch to track my runs with Adidas Runtastic, for weights workouts using Strong App and for bodyweight Fitbod.
Smartwatches are a promising technology. They do a lot more than tell us what the time is, and they will probably become a huge part of our lives in the future. You might want to follow Ray Maker (dcrainmaker.com) who is regularly testing the latest gadgets he is using for all kinds of sports.
If you're interested in smartwatches' benefits and can live with the current cons, investing in one could be beneficial. But, be mindful and recognize that just as it can be a cool and valuable gadget, a smartwatch can also distract you, reduce your productivity, and even hinder your training.