When Apple announced the release of their Apple watch, I laughed. While all the techno geeks were oohing and aahing, I felt like Apple really missed the mark. An expensive watch that isn’t water proof really defeats the ability to use it for working out. No thanks.
Thankfully there are plenty of companies who know what athletes are looking for and have gone to great lengths to meet their needs. The big names in workout smartwatches are Polar and Garmin. Of course there are plenty of others, but if you stick with these 2, you really can not go wrong.
So what exactly is a smartwatch and why will it help you in your workouts. To be honest, smartwatches are simply an easy way to record your activity without having to write it down. The functions that I have found useful are Speed, Heart Rate, Elevation and GPS.
Speed can be recorded by using a foot pod or by a watch receiving a GPS signal. From my experience Foot pods actually seem to be more responsive to changes in speed and less prone to interference. The problem with a GPS signal is that the signal doesn’t always register in cases where there is a lot of cloud cover or tree cover or city obstructions. It’s gotten better, but it still isn’t a reliable as a foot pod. The advantage of GPS of course is it can be plotted on a map, showing you where and when you were traveling and what speed you were going at the time. Having map coordinates also allows the watches to include things like heart rate and elevation as additional overlays, giving you the maximum view of your workout.
Heart Rate is usually recorded by wearing a chest strap, but some watches have a way of recording heart rate by using other techniques. I found that the strap is still the most reliable and most accurate way of recording heart rate.
Elevation is sort of a cool feature, where it will track the number of feet going up and down. For those wanting to figure out what course put the hurt on them and when, elevation is a great stat to know.
Polar sent us out the M400 to review and so far we think it is pretty slick. It records Speed, Heart Rate, Elevation and it also analyzes your daily activity and lets you know when you have been sitting too long. It’s like having an extra voice in your head that tells you to get up and move. It’s sort of neat seeing Kathleen get so excited over a watch. She hasn’t used a smartwatch before and she loves how it shows your daily activity and how many calories you’ve burned.
Here are a few websites that I go to that give you some great intel on various smartwatches. Also look for our upcoming review on the Polar M400.