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Improve Your Health With An Apple Watch

Make use of this smartwatch’s features for a health boost

By Karen Kwan

For several years, I used my Apple Watch to tell the time, read text messages quickly and track my runs using the NRC app. If you’re in the same boat – using it just for the basics – you’re missing out. Spend a little time getting to know your Watch and what it has to offer, and it’ll quickly become an essential tool in your healthy routine. Here are eight ways you can use your Apple Watch to boost your health.

1. Set up fall detection

Fall detection is automatically enabled if you’re over the age of 65, but even if you’re younger, it’s still worth setting this up for your own safety. Perhaps you live alone or work out solo. Or, if you fall while hiking somewhere that’s not well trafficked, for example, the Apple Watch will detect your fall and make it easy for you to call for help.

2. Check and track your heart rate

The Heart app allows you to check your heart rate any time. You can also opt to enable heart health notifications, which will notify you if you experience high or low heart rates, or irregular heart rhythms. Has your heart rate ever raced while you appear to be at rest? Your Apple Watch will give you a tap on the wrist with an alert to let you know.

3. Take care of your hearing

With the Noise app, your Apple Watch’s microphone measures ambient sound levels around you and times the duration of exposure. If the decibel level rises to a point that can potentially damage your hearing, you’ll get a tap on the wrist.

4. Keep moving with the Activity app 

Long periods of sedentary behaviour (even if you exercise regularly) have been called the new smoking. Once you start regularly using the Activity app, you’ll quickly become obsessed with closing your three rings (Move, Exercise and Stand). The app prompts you to stand up, and offers daily targets to meet for each ring, so you can’t help but be active throughout your day.

5. Develop a mindfulness practice

A mindfulness practice has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and to improve your cognitive abilities and memory. The Mindfulness app prompts you to spend a few minutes a day to centre yourself through breathing exercises.

6. Get your zzz’s

Who else is guilty about not prioritizing sleep? If watching just one more episode of The Boys before you hit the sack is your usual routine (even though it means you won’t get enough sleep), then you need to download the Sleep app. With this app, you set bedtime schedules to help ensure you meet your sleep goal. When you wear your Apple Watch to sleep, it’ll track your sleeping and show you how much sleep you are actually getting each night.

7. Wash away germs properly

Although washing our hands thoroughly should have always been a habit, it’s become paramount the past couple of years. The Apple Watch automatically detects when you start handwashing and starts a 20-second timer so you can be confident you’re spending enough time washing germs away.

8. Monitor your heart health

With the ECG app, you can take an electrocardiogram; the app uses the Watch’s electric heart sensor to record your heartbeat and rhythm and checks for atrial fibrillation (a form of irregular rhythm). Speak to your doctor about whether this would be a beneficial feature for you; he or she can also share how to interpret your app’s recordings. Cardiologist Dr. Heather Ross at Toronto’s University Health Network is currently leading a study researching whether the Apple Watch can help with identifying heart failure early.

KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter at @healthswellness and on Instagram at @healthandswellness.

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