There are a lot of different types and varieties of fitness watches on the market nowadays. They can be important to our everyday lives. They help keep us on track and moving forward toward a healthier strong you. But, have you ever stopped to consider, How do fitness watches work?
Today we are going to changes gears a bit away from explaining the different fitness watches available on the market and go back to the basics and explain the fundamental question of how do fitness watches work? With this knowledge you will be better equipped to make an informed purchase when it comes time for you to take that step and purchase, perhaps your first or a maybe just a newer model fitness watch.
Back To The Basics Of Fitness Watches!
Have you ever wondered what makes a fitness watch tick? Well, ok most don’t tick but, counting your steps of tracking heart rate and calories burned or even how it knows what type of workout you are doing does not have with some magical spell that is cast at the factory where it was made.
Although not overly complicated in nature there are still some important parts and theory behind the ability to track how you move and when you move. I am going to break down what is underneath the surface of the fitness watch so you can have a clearer understanding of how they do what they do. So, Lets get to it!
First, I’m going to break down the important features and what they do:
This instrument can be utilized for multiple things, however is primarily used for the function of counting steps. It works by measuring the orientation and acceleration forces of an object either in motion or standing still. Most fitness watches utilize a three axis accelerometer to measure start of motion, end of motion and intensity.
The altimeter’s primary function is to measure your altitude. This feature comes in handy particularly if you are interested in hiking or mountain climbing. It uses atmospheric pressure as a gauge to track and measure changes in altitude as you ascend or descend. As you climb up a mountain the pressure decreases and as you descend the mountain the pressure increases.
GPS is a global positioning system based off of 29 satellites and at any given time a person should be within range of 4 different satellites to pinpoint your location. The GPS receiver in your watch, receives high frequency radio signals from the satellite and coordinates the data.
Heart Rate Monitor
This feature is what you will see when you flip a fitness watch over to see glowing lights on the back. This is a LED that shines through the skin to measure heart rate. When the LED light bounces back to the sensor it is then examined to determine how much light is being absorbed by your blood. This will determine your heart rate.
Sleep tracking works by the same principle as step counting and heart monitoring. Effectively, it tracks motion or the lack there of to determine when you are sleeping soundly and when you are tossing and turning. It also tracks heart rate to determine what stage and quality of sleep you are having.
Let’s Not Forget About The Brains!
You can have all the tracking capability in the world, but without the brains to work with the sensors you have nothing. The brains of a fitness watch is called a MCU (Microcontroller Unit). It is a small computer on an integrated circuit chip. It contains a core processor along with memory and programmable input/output.
The processing unit or brain collects data from the sensors and analyzes it, where it is transmitted into tangible data that we perceive as results. This is how you get 2 steps on your counter when you physically take 2 steps.
We must also remember the power source. For without that the brain could not compute and the sensors could not sense. Most fitness watch batteries are lithium ion powered.
What Would A Fitness Watch Be Without It’s App?
There’s an app for that. Have you ever heard this statement before. Well, for the most things it is true. Nowadays, apps are a very important part of our day to day life and fitness watches are no exception.
For every brand of watch available on the market there is a corresponding app to go with it. Each brand has its own and in most cases not all fitness watch apps are created equal. However, most users will likely find the same result as they do their phones. Once, they have found an app that they enjoy using switching to another could potentially problematic.
The apps are usually designed to interface with the watch and correlate all the data to give you a layout of all the stats that you are developing throughout the day. It is also, usually, where you would log you daily intake of calories if you are trying to maintain weight or are on a weight loss journey.
This is also where you will get a better picture of how your sleep has progressed through the night or throughout the week if that is a function on your fitness tracker. Also, through most fitness watches you will be able to sync to other devices, such as some workout equipment (treadmills, Elliptical, stationary workout bikes, etc).
Popular Apps To Use In With A Fitness Watch.
To extend the range of the total extent of how a fitness watch works, I will introduce you to some more popular apps that can work in conjunction with a fitness watch. I’m going to start the list with my personal favorite fitness app. However, this list will include many apps with many differing functions. They include:
- My Fitness Pal
- Nike Training Club
How It Works, Why It Works, Now Let’s Go Make It Work!
Getting back to the basics of determining how your fitness watch does what it does, is the foundation of understanding how you are getting results when you see them being tracked on your watch screen. It does not happen by magic and there are intricate parts that play a role in the data gathering process.
With the knowledge of how fitness watches work, you will be able to have confidence in the results as well as, using the information as a tool when deciding which fitness watch is right for you. Maybe you are looking for a watch with all the bells and whistles of tracking capabilities or just a modest watch that will track the standard movements. This will be for you to decide.
Armed with this knowledge you can begin or continue on your journey to a healthier lifestyle. Knowledge is power and your health is one of the most precious items you have. So get out there and work on being the healthiest you, you can be.