Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch 4 are great for fitness but terrible for mental health

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Over the past year I’ve worn watches or trackers from Fitbit, Garmin, Apple, Samsung, and Amazfit, and each has their own way of nudging me about all my responsibilities during the day while warning me that I was sitting too. And boy, do I like it!

It buzzes when I’ve been sitting too long, whenever a co-worker lets me go, or whenever an application requires my attention. If my phone slips into a sofa cushion, don’t worry, my watch will show all missed work emails or text messages until I find them!

It can also give you precise information on whether your training sessions had any problems. real impact on your health. Like how Garmin can tell you the aerobic or anaerobic training effect of my runs or how my fitness age has increased much faster than my chronological age since the pandemic began.

As someone who is 100% obsessed with video game achievements and performs above average when it comes to my running demographics, gamifying my health has certainly had the desired effect of making me obsessed by those numbers – and it has no doubt done the same for a lot of other people too.

Garmin Instinct 2 Solar showing post-workout VO2 Max gains

The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar (Image credit: Michael Hicks/Android Central)

I also appreciated how, on a particularly busy day, my Garmin Venu 2 Plus told me that my stress level seemed high and that I should try to take a deep breath. It’s that kind of constructive feedback that people love, like telling someone with puffy eyes that they look tired and should get more sleep.

Then you have the Galaxy Watch 4, which can use its BIA sensor to determine your body fat percentage and muscle mass in just 15 seconds. Add Samsung’s blood pressure sensor, which has yet to gain FDA approval in the United States, and this little wristwatch could tell you in real time any problems your body is having. How useful!

Alright, so if you didn’t get the sarcasm, I’m not really a fan of all of this.

Smartwatches have gotten so much smarter at tracking your health, alerting you to any issues, and extending your smartphone’s hold on your attention span. But I would say that’s not a good thing, and it’s only going to get worse.

Our minds are not made to handle failure

Apple Watch Series 7

The Apple Watch Series 7 (Image credit: Apoorva Bhardwaj/Android Central)

This week, the FDA approved (opens in a new tab) Fitbit’s algorithm for identifying and notifying you of irregular heart rhythms due to atrial fibrillation (AFiB), which affects more than 30 million people worldwide and puts you at high risk for stroke. It is the latest brand to receive approval, after Apple, Samsung, Withings and others.

The fact that most mainstream fitness brands can detect this issue for vulnerable users is wonderful! But it’s also part of a recent push to make your smartwatch so save lives that seems risky do not wear one.

Watch these recent Apple Watch Series 7 911 ads, with real-life examples of people using theirs to ask for help. They’re much darker than the usual frenetic and colorful Apple ads we’re used to, but for the record, several older family members have bought or asked me to buy an Apple Watch just because of these ads. and the promise of fall detection.

In order to establish themselves in your daily life, the brands of connected watches will continue to cram more and more acronyms of health sensors – PPG, BIA, ECG, etc. — so as not to appear indented. Every year, you can learn more about yourself from home than ever before without a doctor.

It’s ideal for gym rats and people in perfect shape! For everyone, this level of information can be demoralizing at best or dangerous at worst.

Consider the elderly or disabled people targeted by these ads. Reminders to get up and move certainly do not help people who have difficulty walking or are in a wheelchair; it only reminds them of what they can no longer do.

And sitting and watching a constant reminder that your pulse is too high isn’t likely to lower it. Something like the Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro, which calculates the “stiffness” of your arteries and determines if your heart is getting enough blood, can give vital readings, but it could also give people with previous heart problems serious anxiety and constant.

Mobvoi TicWatch GTH Pro

The TicWatch GTH Pro (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

Ongoing health monitoring will detect potential emergencies so their carriers can seek medical attention and address issues before they become serious. But even minor hypochondriacs will take any negative reading as a sign that the sky is falling – although these readings aren’t necessarily so accurate.

For one, not all sensors require FDA approval. For example, the Apple Watch 7 pulse oximeter, which Apple specifically said (opens in a new tab) is “designed for general fitness and wellness purposes only” and not for medical purposes. But a poor O2 The note will still send your brain spiraling about your poor physical condition or possible exposure to COVID, no matter how accurate.

Even if you get accurate body data from the BIA or Withings scale on your Galaxy Watch 4, not everyone responds positively to a constant reminder of negative results. Working out and not receiving immediate results will cause many to mentally shut down and abandon their fitness routine or take more extreme measures like starvation diets which hurt more than they help – everything this because of some numbers on your wrist.

Find the right balance

The author at the finish line of a race, wearing a Garmin Instinct 2

The author at the finish line of a race, wearing a Garmin Instinct 2 (Image credit: Michael Hicks/Android Central)

For years I ran without a watch. I was just moving at the pace that was right for me and keeping my eyes forward and my head in the zone. In fact, my old running coaches encouraged us to tape our watch screens to avoid running to a specific pace.

I know that my self-competitiveness and a watch face showing my pace in real time don’t mix, causing me to run harder than I should before I tire prematurely. But despite that, and despite all the other issues I mentioned above, I love wearing a fitness smartwatch while I run.

It keeps me loosely attached to the real world with quick notifications and getting ahead on my running playlist while keeping my phone in my pocket and my head in the zone. And as I mentioned, I’m the kind of competitive gamer-athlete who tries to beat my previous Strava Segment PRs for “achievements” on every run. It allows me to go fast when my body wants to slow down.

So I’m not going to stop wearing fitness trackers. But I to have more or less decided that my watch will come off my wrist by the time I come inside (except when I’m examining one). Even if it means my health data isn’t as complete as it should be or I miss guilt-inducing motion alerts when time limits don’t allow me to get away from my desk.

I have to set boundaries and trust my own mind to lead me to be healthier, rather than an unrelenting device that accepts nothing less than perfect habits.

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