Good’n Wholesome: Don’t assume health watches inform complete well being story | Well being and Health


A member of the gym works out with a dumbbell while wearing a smart watch.

Courtesy Susan Wheeler

Drew Goodin
For the nonpareil

I’ve found that a lot of people track their fitness with Fitbits, Apple Watches, WHOOP bands, and other wrist-worn exercise monitors. While these devices help people measure activity levels in a quantifiable manner, do they actually measure what is most important to maintaining good health and what is actually being measured?

I think these devices are useful and fun. They count your steps per day, report how long you’ve stood, how much exercise you’ve done, and even create reward systems to keep you motivated to move more. You can even track your sleep patterns. All of this information is useful.

One concern I have is over-monitoring my heart rate during exercise and overestimating the reported calories burned during a workout. But first let’s look at how we can use this information to get the most benefit from us.

First we need to find out your maximum heart rate. The maximum heart rate is a number linked to the number of beats your heart makes in a minute. It’s found by taking 220 minus your age. So if you are 60 years old your maximum heart rate formula is 220 minus 60, which is 160 beats per minute. The 160 refers to heartbeats per minute (BPM).

How do we use this information? We can now start defining the intensity of a workout by tracking our heart rate during a workout. The moderate intensity, as defined by the Center of Disease Control, is 64 to 76% of your maximum heart rate, and the vigorous intensity is 77 to 93% of your maximum hearing rate.