Updated: Jan 1
When the Apple Watch first came out, I was not really sold on the idea of wearing a miniaturized version of the iPhone on the wrist. I thought the concept was redundant and could not think of a good reason why people might find it necessary to have a smart watch in addition to a smart phone.
Fast forward a few years. I recently just received my very first Apple Watch as a gift. When I opened the box and took one glance at it, I still wasn't super enthusiastic about wearing a clunky device on my wrist 24/7. Nevertheless, there must be a reason why people have embraced this product, so I decided to give it a whirl and see what the fuss is all about.
The first thing I noticed about the Apple Watch is how many health apps came preinstalled. Obviously as a doctor, it got my attention right away. I started tapping around the little shiny rectangular screen to explore all the functions it has to offer. From tracking your heart rate to timing your hand washing, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness with which the designer created the apps. I especially appreciated the reminder system for checking in on your breathing and the app that monitors your noise exposure during the day.
During my first day using it, I found myself getting a little too obsessed with monitoring my own vital signs. You would think that as someone who is constantly looking and talking about other people’s vital signs, I would be indifferent about checking my own. Nope. Not this doctor. The watch became somewhat of a distraction due to my incessant curiosity what my heart rate was at a particular moment in time when I was doing a different activity or felt a certain emotion. Heck, I even checked my own EKG for a few times, as if I was somehow expecting the second or the third one to become abnormal.
To my surprise, I learned some new things about my own health. For example, I never realized that my resting heart rate is in the 50-60’s. I also didn’t know that I can start to feel my heart beats when the rate goes up to the 80’s. To my dismay, I also discovered that I do not get as many steps in a day as I thought I was. So much for getting enough exercise just from doing normal daily activities.
The irony is not lost on me; we’re supposed to be taking cues from a machine to be more self aware, even though men created machines to rely less on our own biology. So what’s my final verdict on the Apple Watch? It’s a great tool for providing concrete feedback and objective measurements so that you can start to make meaningful changes to your health, but just like any other health tools, it needs to be used judiciously so that we don’t become slaves to numbers and forget about quality of life as a metric of health as well.