Though I primarily purchased an apple watch as a business tool to use on wedding days, I was also really excited to use it as a fitness tracker. I’ve never used a FitBit or anything like that, but I did have a Polar FT7.
The first thing to know about the Apple Watch as a fitness watch is that the way it detects your heart rate is by sending a green light through the vein in your wrist and measuring your pulse. This is different from the Polar watch I had which measured heart rate by a chest strap. I’ve heard that the chest straps tend to be more accurate than other methods, so I was really interested to see how the Apple Watch would match up!
When I track my workouts with my Apple Watch, I use the Under Armour Record app. I’ve read some not so great reviews of the built in Workout app that is native to the watch, but I honestly never used it, so I can’t speak for that.
Under Armour Record is pretty cool though! You pick the type of workout you are doing (running, rowing, elliptical, legs, upper body, Crossfit, etc) and it will track your heart rate, calories burned, etc and import all of that info into your Health and Activity apps. You can also sync it with My Fitness Pal if you have that!
I usually use the Crossfit setting on a regular workout day since the program I do incorporates a lot of lifting and conditioning type exercises, but the day I tested both the Apple Watch and my Polar FT7, I was doing a HIIT class at the gym, so I went with “total body”. I’m really not sure if it makes a difference what you choose or how it calculates everything though.
One thing I noticed using both of the watches is that the Apple Watch had a bit of a lag and would report my heart rate as lower (sometimes a lot lower!) than the Polar FT7. At the end of the workout though, both watches reported the calorie counts about the same, which was interesting!
Ultimately, I’ve been working out with the Polar FT7 long enough to know where my heart rate probably is based on my rate of exertion at the time, so I think working out with my Apple Watch is fine for me because I’m really just trying to keep track of my workouts. For someone who is newer to this, I would suggest using a Bluetooth chest strap that you can pair with your watch for more accuracy. OR…if you are primarily a runner or more into cardio, this may work better for you because I have read that the watch reads heart rates more accurately when doing those types of exercises because your arms aren’t moving as wildly. Or maybe I just have crazy arms?? JK
Besides the discrepancy/lag in heart rates, the watch also helps fitness wise by reminding you to stand once an hour at least twelve hours of the day. As someone who tends to be more sedentary during the day working in my office, this is a nice reminder to move a bit more!
You can also use it to track how many steps you’ve taken in a day if you’re into that.
If you were buying the Apple Watch ONLY as a fitness watch, I think I would have to suggest looking closely at other fitness trackers too. Something that is dedicated solely to fitness may work better for you.
However, if you’re a busy person who wants something that will help keep your life in order, this is a great watch because the fitness aspect of the watch adds a ton of value! It’s just not JUST a fitness watch, so it’s not as specialized as some people may want.
Got a question about it? Let me know!!