How the Apple Watch Could Change Your Health

Editor

The much anticipated Apple Watch has finally been released--although it probably won’t be available in stores for another month. But has it lived up to all the hype? While it doesn’t have all of the features that had been rumored, it is still an innovative approach to technology, particularly in regards to tracking personal health. Apple is clearly ramping up to become a major player in the health industry—the next field on the company’s radar.

Skeptical? Watch the guided tour of the Activity app in the video below.

This watch is the latest of many tech gadgets to change the landscape of health—and here’s why you should take note.

It can change your sedentary lifestyle

One of the health benefits that sets the Apple Watch apart from the pack is that it literally makes you stand up. The watch keeps track of how long you sit and creates what feels like a tap on the wrist. Look down, and there is a reminder message to stand up. One of the Activity app goals is to get users to stand for at least one minute every hour.

Sitting for prolonged hours has been scientifically linked to a wide variety of health risks, including heart disease, cancer, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This feature can help get people moving throughout the day and fight against the sedentary lifestyle that is helping to feed the obesity epidemic in America.

Beyond standing, the app has two other daily fitness goals: personal calories burned and 30 minutes of activity at or above a brisk walk. The aim is to complete three “rings,” or goals, each day.

It can act as your personal coach

Lark is what you’d get if FitBit and Siri had a child. It’s the latest health tracker—with a twist. It counts calories and steps like FitBit, but goes way beyond the usual limitations. It can be used on an iPhone, but the app now has features just for the Apple Watch. You can verbally record your meals, health habits, and exercise into Lark and it will respond with health tips, advice and encouragement. For example, if you’ve had a milkshake twice in two days, Lark will politely recommend a healthier option next time. You’re essentially “receiving health advice from artificial intelligence,” as NPR puts it. Or, in other words, you have the equivalent of a personal nutritionist and trainer by your side around the clock.

It can monitor your heart rate

You also can keep track of your heart rate at all times with the Heart Rate Glance, which measures it  every 10 minutes through a sensor using LED lights. This can help you keep track of calories burned and how intense your workouts are. It’s also helpful for people with any heart conditions who may need to monitor their heart rate more closely than the average person. However, the sensor does run into problems from time to time. It’s been reported that the ink from tattoos on a person’s wrist can disrupt the sensor.

Privacy concerns

Some are rightfully concerned about any technology company retrieving and storing personal health data. However, Apple claims the data is only stored by the company, not shared. NPR reports the data is not stored on the iCloud due to previous hacking and Apple has barred developers from sharing user health data to advertisers. Users, however, should still be cautious about what they share and think twice before opting in to certain apps.