Getting Fit with Apple

Apple Watch studio shot
Photo by Simon Daoudi on Unsplash

I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ it will be about health — Tim Cook, Apple CEO

I’m out of shape. I freely admit it. I cannot blame the pandemic and staying at home. Though I’m certain that hasn’t helped, I was out of shape before Covid. It has been years since I have done anything that would be considered regular exercise. My massage therapist, who I’ve been seeing monthly for years, has given up prompting me to get out and at least walk. As a software engineer most of my time is spent sitting in front of a computer for hours at a time. Before we transitioned to work-from-home because of the pandemic I would also spend 2 hours a day driving to and from work. I felt that I hardly had any time to do things I wanted to do let alone exercise, which I wasn’t that keen on to begin with.

I was a skinny kid who could eat pretty much anything in any amount without gaining any weight. I grew up in the 70s and spent a lot of time outside with activities ranging from stacking wood, riding my bike, walking the dog, going camping with scouts, playing sports (badly), etc. Even though I got my first computer when I was 14 it was just another activity then, it wasn’t my entire focus the way it has become. I stayed active after college, often taking 12 to 15 mile rides on my bike and doing weekend hikes in the mountains with friends. I started and stopped using gyms multiple times. I didn’t have a solid routine or habit but I never encountered anything I wanted to do that I was held back from due to physical fitness.

My sedentary lifestyle has expanded greatly over the past decade. Recently when my wife and I have gone for our (infrequent) walks around the mostly flat neighborhood I find it taxing. This in turn makes me even less inclined to want to do it. I know my long-term health depends on me changing this and starting to exercise.

I’ve been a fan of Apple products for many years. I was there in Boston when the Apple Newton was introduced and my friend and I started a company to make software for it. I had a dual-processor Power Mac when OS X first came out and created an application for downloading and solving crossword puzzles called MacXword (sold many years ago and rebranded by Red Sweater Software as Black Ink.) I had a first gen iPod and a first gen iPad. I’ve watched Apple rebuild itself and have seen OS X become, what I believe, is the best operating system available. Suffice to say if Apple was introducing something I probably ordered it or wanted it. Except the Apple Watch. Why did I need a watch? There are clocks everywhere and my iPhone is perfectly capable of telling me the time.

The fact is that there has not, to date, been a compelling reason for me to get an Apple Watch. So what changed? Recently it has been getting warmer (we live in the Northeast) and my wife and I have been trying to go on walks around the neighborhood more frequently. She has also been feeling like she needed to increase her activity and has been shopping for a home fitness machine. I have been re-evaluating my computing ecosystem with its mix of Mac, Linux, Windows, and numerous cloud services. While I had initially thought about leaning into Linux I realized that my largest investment is in Apple products and that I get the most pleasure from using Apple products compared to Linux or Windows. Then I remembered seeing the quote at the top of the article from Tim Cook about his belief that health will stand out as one of the Apple’s greatest contributions. I hadn’t really noticed too much of a focus on this from Apple but it got me curious.

I realized that my largest investment is in Apple products and that I get the most pleasure from using Apple products compared to Linux or Windows.

I started looking at the Watch and that linked me to Apple One, which I had either missed or not paid any attention to previously. I was looking for a way to remove myself from the Google ecosystem and Apple One seemed to offer exactly what I would need to do that. Looking at the subscriptions it was obvious it would need to be at least the family option but I found the News+ addition in Premier enticing as well. What about Fitness+? Would I get much use from that? If I didn’t was Premier worth the premium? Ultimately, I decided that for it to be worthwhile I would want to make sure I used that aspect of the service as well as the others. Adding an Apple Watch would help me toward my as-yet undefined fitness goals and was something my wife and I could do and benefit from together. Plus, shiny need Apple toy. So we donned our masks and set off to Best Buy (which is much closer than the nearest Apple Store) and picked up two matching Watch SE 44mm models. I was tempted by the blood oxygen sensor and ECG in the Series 6 but much preferred the lower cost of the SE since I was buying two of them.

Couple walking
Photo by Mason Hassoun on Unsplash

When we got home we quickly set up our watches and headed out for our first walk. A few minutes later both watches chimed to let us know it looked like we were exercising and would we like to track it? Yes, we would. A while later we were both notified that we had walked a mile. When we arrived back home after 1.6 miles we were both greeted with the award of our first walking workout. This sort of experience is exactly what I have come to expect from Apple. They anticipated my need and made exercising and tracking it a breeze. I was already hooked and convinced this would be a turning point for me. Of course, I’m just starting out and there is a lot of work to do and functionality to explore. I’ve walked for 30 minutes both mornings since getting the Watch, which I’m happy about.

This sort of experience is exactly what I have come to expect from Apple. They anticipated my need and made exercising and tracking it a breeze.

I’ve was already using the sleep alarm on my iPhone but was excited to try out the sleep monitoring with the Watch. I’m not a great sleeper. It can take me a long time to fall asleep and I wake up frequently during the night. Since Daylight Savings I’ve had trouble getting back to a 5a wakeup. Lack of exercise is one contributor to my sleep problems so tracking it from the start of establishing daily exercise seems like a good idea. I’ve already added AutoSleep to my phone and watch to get additional sleep metric details.

I like the built-in reminders to stand and move around as well as the breathing prompts. We have a HealthKit-compatible digital scale arriving tomorrow which will be good for tracking progress. I’d also like to add nutrition tracking but I haven’t had a look at the App Store options yet. The existing nutrition tracking in Health seems bare-bones. We eat quite well because I like to cook and we don’t have many processed foods in the house, but there is always room for improvement. My grocery cart this weekend included more fruit and vegetables and less meat than usual. I’ve been meaning to switch from coffee to green tea and I’m sure the reduction in caffeine will also help with sleep.

I plan to document this fitness journey here on Medium in the hopes that it may help others as well as be a good motivation for myself. I hope you will follow along. Now I need to go browse Fitness+ and find some routines to do!

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