Cedric X. Bryant by Cedric X. Bryant

ACE Chief Science Officer Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., attended Apple’s launch event earlier this month, where they unveiled the iPhone 6, iOS8 and the Apple Watch. Here are his thoughts on how the Apple Watch will affect health and fitness professionals.

With last week’s unveiling of its Apple Watch, the tech giant officially entered the wearable device arena. While there are already quite a number of wearable fitness trackers available, none have been able to fully capture the imagination of general public. The Apple Watch hopes to change that. It does what other fitness trackers do, but with the added bonus of music and apps integrated into the device.

1. It will track your heart rate and measure three separate categories of movement.

  • The first is the "Move" ring, which measures the number of calories a user has burned and indicates when one’s personal goal for the day has been achieved.
  • The "Exercise" ring tracks more intense movement, and alerts users when they've accumulated 30 minutes of such activity each day.
  • The "Stand" ring measures how often the user “takes a break” from sitting, and encourages him or her to get up for at least one minute at 12 hourly intervals throughout the day. This feature has important health implications because a growing body of research suggests that sitting for prolonged periods of time is a powerful risk factor for a number of chronic conditions.

2. The Apple Watch syncs with the GPS and barometer in the newest iPhones to track distance and vertical climb.

3. The combination of its infrared heart-rate monitor and accelerometer may provide a better estimate of the number of calories burned while wearing the device.

4. Its ability to track activity, set basic goals and offer simple, encouraging feedback makes the Apple Watch a useful tool for consumers and health and fitness professionals alike. Consumers can receive motivation to be more active from the feedback provided by the device, and health and fitness professionals can use the information to coach their clients through the process of lifestyle behavior change, from improving function and health to achieving enhanced fitness and performance.

ACE Certified Fitness Professional Jay Blahnik, Apple's Director of Fitness and Health Technologies and fitness industry icon, probably says it best:

"The Apple Watch is designed to help anyone who wears it to live a healthier life by being more active."

It will be interesting to see what refinements or enhancements are made between now and its early 2015 release. Given what we’ve already seen, it’s reasonably safe to say that the Apple Watch will be one of the most comprehensive wearable fitness device on the market. Let’s hope the Apple Watch, along with the other devices in this emerging category, becomes a widely used and effective tool in helping empower people to sit less, move more and live their most “fit” lives.


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