Watch for health

Watch your health they said and I took it to heart. No, I actually took it to my wrist, because I needed to check on my heart. For years now, I’ve been using a digital watch that doubles as an activity tracker when I workout, usually quick runs, after work. This, after a doctor, warned me that my heart needs my attention. But with the global pandemic happening, forcing us to stay at home, work remotely, but running out of focus when it comes to our own well being, I’ve been wearing it now most of the time to watch my health. And recently leveling it up when I finally got myself an Apple Watch SE.

I like wearing mechanical watches, having owned a few Seiko, but that day I almost failed my annual physical examination (APE) is what got me watching my health with a smartwatch. While checking my medical results and upon learning that both my parents died from a stroke, the consulting physician at my APE broke the news as I needed it. That I was going to suffer the same fate as my parents, if I didn’t change my lifestyle. I have a slightly enlarged heart, a sign of other possible health conditions, and by lifestyle the doctor meant quitting vices, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet. That made me quit smoking and got me into running. As for the diet, that’s for another story, but I even tried going vegetarian, with no success. I just love to eat!

And because I just wanted a simple cardio workout monitor with a heart rate sensor, I bought what less than a thousand pesos can afford me back then, the Xiaomi Mi Band 2, which when paired with the Mi Fit app, served my basic activity tracking needs well. I then upgraded to the Xiaomi Mi Band 4, which features a better display, improved sleep tracking, and 24/7 heart rate monitoring.

The Mi Band served as my daily alarm to wake up, leave the bed, and prep up for work or attend to appointments. It would constantly vibrate throughout the day to remind me to stand up, walk or move. It recorded my runs and rewards badges every time a goal is achieved or a record is broken. It’s small but it fits my wrist just fine though the tiny touchscreen sometimes can be tricky to control. Amazingly, the battery lasts over a week! And most importantly, I get to check my heart rate, and buzzes me if it gets too high. The buzzing can be annoying sometimes but it serves its purpose of getting your attention to set aside time for your health even with a busy schedule.

While the Mi Band will do as a basic activity tracker, well the bands didn’t last really that long and the screen’s been fading, I thought it’s high time for a much-needed upgrade. I’ve been eyeing the Apple Watch SE, the same design and display as the Apple Watch Series 6, but more affordable. It’s been on my wish list long enough, but more than the high-tech features on its small 40-44mm casing, it was really intended to be my watch for health.

I got the 44mm Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band, which luckily was on stock and at a huge discount at I also used Billease, a BNPL company or buy now pay later payment option that allows for staggard payments as opposed to the usual installments offered by credit cards. My order was delivered the same day my payment was confirmed. And after excitedly unboxing it and pairing to my iPhone then rushing through its set up, I called it Wilson (yup that’s the volleyball from Tom Hank’s Cast Away movie and well I have this habit of naming my gadgets) and my Apple Watch SE has been on my wrist since, removing it only to charge.

Wilson has since become my health and wellness coach, a personal assistant of sorts on my wrist. It somehow lessened the use of my phone as it mirrors most of my day-to-day activities. Like my other Apple devices, I enrolled it to the Apple Beta Software Program and installed watchOS 8 and so far there’s no noticeable hiccups. I’ve also invested in a protective case and additional straps. With many customizable watch faces to choose from and personalize, it’s also fun to mix and match with different straps.

Aside from helping set or adjust sleep goals and pre-bedtime routine, Wilson also monitors sleeping respiratory rate, which is the number of breaths per minute. I’m still unable to meet my 6-hour sleep goals consistently but I noticed I have more deep sleeps lately since I started with the reworked Breathe app which is now called Mindfulness. It now includes Reflect, which reminds you to set aside a minute of your time each day to reflect with a unique, thoughtful notion to consider that encourages a positive frame of mind. Sitting still and thinking about happy thoughts, like a mindful minute of meditation. The Breathe app as usual tells you to inhale and exhale long breaths, a welcome break from a busy and stressful day or even before you start your day.

It gently wakes me up in the morning with its haptic alerts and to kickstart the day with the Activity app to go and close the rings; that is, to exercise, stand, and move. I’ve managed to get a few badges within a week of use but I hope to do more physical indoor activities to close the rings more consistently.

My Apple Watch SE

Wilson was bugging me constantly the first few days as it notifies almost all the alerts on my iPhone. With the new Focus feature on iOS 15 (still on public beta), it helps reduce distraction and filter notifications so you can focus on the more important personal or work related apps or tasks.

Wilson makes it easy to unlock my other Apple devices. So with a face mask on, I don’t need to remove it for Face ID or to type in my passcode. When I have it on my wrist, it unlocks my iPhone instantly as well as my Macbook Pro.

Among the growing list of amazing features, what stands out to me and is relevant today in the new normal as we’re still coping with the global pandemic, is the Handwashing app. It’s annoyingly useful because it reminds you to wash your hands thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds every time. From force of habit of sanitizing with alcohol regularly, I now have Wilson to tell me to wash and keep my hands clean and help prevent the spread of the virus and diseases.

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