So far, you've chosen your Wear OS watch, and you've started to gather vital health metrics. While those are critical steps, having a ton of information at your fingertips is only useful if you understand what it means. In the third installment of How to Get Fit with Android and Wear OS, we're diving into your data and deciphering how it reflects on your overall health.
Your heart is in constant motion, pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout every corner of your body to keep you alive. Naturally, heart functionality is one of the most important indicators of overall physical health, and there are two main metrics you should follow to keep yourself in check.
Heart rate zones
Depending on your activity level, your heart will slow or quicken into different zones to deliver the ideal amount of oxygen for the task. Understanding the limits of your heart is critical to getting the most from a workout.
To start, find your maximum heart rate by taking your age and subtracting it from the number 220 — this is the pulse your heart can safely reach without causing damage to your body. Maintaining your maximum heart rate for long periods of time, however, can negatively impact your health. As a result, you should never exceed 70-85% of your maximum heart rate when engaging in vigorous activities or 50-70% during intense workouts.
Resting heart rate
Serving as the go-to metric for overall heart health and efficiency, resting heart rate is an average of the beats your heart bumps while at rest. A normal resting heart rate for adults can fall anywhere between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm), though trained athletes have been known to safely achieve resting heart rates as low as 40 bpm. The more fit you are, the lower your resting heart rate should be.
A number of factors can impact resting heart rate besides physical fitness. These include age, body size, mental health, body positioning (standing vs. sitting vs. lying down), underlying health conditions, medications, air temperature, and even smoking habits.
Pro tip: The best way to get an accurate resting heart rate reading is to wear your Wear OS watch to bed. Capturing data while sleeping allows your heart to beat without interference from physical or mental stress that could artificially raise your vitals.
Step by step
For as long as most of us can remember, 10,000 steps (equivalent to about 5 miles) a day has been the default step goal for prominent fitness trackers, but why? As it turns out, this number originated in 1965 when a Japanese pedometer manufacturer launched the Manpo-kei, which means "10,000 steps meter." That's right, the 10,000 steps metric was just a marketing stunt.
But is there any medical backing that supports this number? Yes and no.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. This can be achieved through walking, running, or any other sort of aerobic activity that gets the blood pumping. However, a recent Harvard Health study found that walking 7,500 steps per day is equally as beneficial as a 10,000-step goal.
That means while regular exercise is viewed as a positive routine, the original Manpo-kei marketing ploy that many fitness companies — including Fitbit — have adopted over the years is bogus.
Caloric intake and output
The body is a complex machine that's continuously carrying out functions to keep your organs in tip-top shape. We eat to fuel these processes, but if you're eating too much or too little, you're putting your health at risk.
The amount of calories you should take in varies based on a number of factors, including age, gender, height, and physical activity. For example, a 30-year-old active man needs 1,000 more calories than a 25-year-old sedentary female.
Depending on where you land on this chart, there can be up to a 800-calorie difference between your sedentary and active columns. If you're just starting an exercise regimen, it's important to give your body the approximate amount of fuel it needs to stay powered up. At the same time, exceeding your daily limit can result in maintaining or even gaining weight, despite being more active.
Sleep on it
According to a SleepHealth study, 50-70 million Americans suffer from some kind of sleep insufficiency, a bad bit of news considering that sleep holds significant power over your daily health. While feeling sleepy is the primary side affect of getting too little or too much sleep, having a shoddy sleep schedule can cause a deluge of other health problems, such as lowered productivity, emotional imbalance, immune system problems, and even weight gain.
Although it is widely recognized that most people need anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, the amount of sleep you need is mostly dependent upon your age group, and even then, there are some deviations.
The most important takeaway from the chart above is that these numbers are more like guidelines than rigid rules. The bottom line is that you should sleep until your body feels well-rested and ready to conquer your day. That means your sleep number may be lower or higher than the recommended amount for your age group, and that's okay. Every body is unique, and knowing how much yours needs to rest is critical to staying healthy.
Thanks for joining us on this Android and Wear OS journey. We've reached the end of our three-part fitness series, but the story isn't over quite yet.
Perhaps the coolest thing about Wear OS is that it's about to get a huge fitness upgrade. Once Google's Fitbit acquisition is finalized and the two companies blend what they both do best, there will undoubtedly be plenty of new features to help you smash your fitness goals and cultivate a happier, healthier you.
When that happens, we'll have even more tips to help you get the most out of your Android device and Wear OS smartwatch. Stay on the lookout for part four in our series.