Apple recently launched its smart watch which comes with a sensor. Two of the sensors installed in it are meaningful particularly to those who enjoy exercising because one is a heart rate monitor while the other is an accelerometer. With both these sensors in one gadget, it is exciting to see how helpful and efficient this watch can turn out to be.
The heart rate is a strong and powerful metric which tell a person a great deal about his/her health and the response of the heart to a particular exercise can give out even more information. Exercise physiologists have been making use of the heart rate in order to prescribe training programs for athletes as well as to monitor them. Clinical exercise prescriptions are also dependent upon the range of heart rate recorded.
The heart rate however is not the only health metric which can measure intensity. Oxygen consumption (VO2) is seen to be another physiological measure, probably one of the best however the problem with this is that it is expensive to measure and difficult to do so. It requires a great deal of equipment, an exercise physiologist and a lab in order to run the required test. While portable measurement units are available for VO2, they are considered to be very expensive. It is lucky that based on the heart rate, the VO2 can also be measured. The 2 are considered to have a linear relationship. When light to moderate activity is indulged in, heart rate is considered to be the perfect measure of fitness and intensity.
Heart rate however is not an entirely pure measure of the intensity of exercise which is considered to be its advantage as well as its limitation. This is because there are other physiological processes apart from our movement which has an influence on heart rate. Give this a try; place your finger on your neck on the carotid artery and count how many beats you can feel within one minute. Next, think about the worst boss you have had, your worst breakup or a traffic jam you were stuck in on the way to work and measure your heart rate again. Chances are that this second time around, it will be higher. This is because our emotions impact out heart rate. Stress, nicotine, temperature, caffeine and health conditions are all related suggesting that heart rate is not a perfect way to measure the intensity of physical activity.
This is where the Apple Watch sensor can play its part. The accelerometer is an accurate measure of the intensity of exercise. It also works independently from our emotions and other bodily functions which is why it is an objective and consistent tool to prescribe and monitor physical activty.
The reason why you should be excited about this gadget is because they complete each other. While the heart rate can tell you about your physiological processes which the accelerometer cannot, the latter can provide you with an accurate measurement which is not influenced by anything else. Together, both these metrics are seen to be quite powerful.
Have a look at 2 of the applications for the use of this gadget:
- Stress: the heart rate can give you an insight about stress while the accelerometer cannot. When assessing and managing stress, the records provided by the heart rate for the individuals will prove to be a useful tool.
- Cycling: the gadget can also decide when the heart rate is considered to be a better measure of intensity and when the accelerometer should be used. Regular fitness wearable devices often cannot account for individual’s daily cycle
Thus, considering the mentioned aspects, it will be interesting to see how the use of science will apply to the mentioned health metrics, something which has not easily been found and has certainly not been very easily accessible to the masses. It will also provide individuals with a way to motivate them as they will be able to keep track of their progress and ensure that their activities are not endangering their health. The gadget will make sure that the appropriate level and intensity of activity is maintained to ensure that you get the most out of your fitness workouts.
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