The word on longevity is out.

Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep at night and don’t stress the small stuff.

These are simple words that will not only increase the life span of human beings but also add more quality to our remaining years.

Unfortunately it is easier said than done. You need to fight the temptations of fat-laden and sugary meals, break the shackles of the couch and hit the gym, and headlock the sandman into submission. To do that, one needs to grasp all these cogs of longevity and combine them into a well-oiled working machine.

Which brings me to the Apple watch.

iwatch

It’s a modern, clean piece of technological wizardry with smooth lines and a crystal clear display that fits comfortably around your wrist without being cumbersome. It’s available with a bevy of options; straps and colors to suit your level of style or comfort or both. The Apple watch furnishes you with the likes of GPS, has water resistance to 50 meters, built in heart-rate sensor and a variety of third party apps which will turn your timepiece into a health advisor, personal assistant and mindfulness coach all rolled in to one glorious gadget.

It knows when you are active or inactive, training or lazing, distances you may or may not have covered. It plans your training intensity levels, slowly building you up to become a fitter and healthier person through a basic principle called adaptation. You can track and log your workouts, meals, sleep and monitor your heart rate while doing so. With all of this built in tech, the Apple Watch seems to be aimed at creating a better, healthier and longer living you.

If you contemplate the ever-increasing costs of medical exams, yoga instructors and personal assistants, then it seems like an absolute bargain at a starting price of R6800. So, should you dump your doctor, personal assistant and training partner and get one as soon as possible?

No.

Yoga

Health, youthfulness, nutrition and body awareness has become a billion dollar industry; with every facet of exercise, nutrition, sleep and our consciousness being scrutinized. Companies are pouring out hundreds of products with the singular goal of making consumers believe that their product is the mythological fountain of youth.

Apple, with the Apple Watch is no different. Who can blame them? Apple has in the past, written the book on technological capitalist excess, and has positioned the Apple Watch as a must-have Vitality tool.

The difference between choosing to make healthy living a part of your life and actually having it be beneficial in the long run requires a lot more than knowing if you walked more steps today than yesterday, rested more last week than this week. Yes, all this is crucial to overall health. A low resting heart rate shows an efficient and strong heart. A diet low in trans fats and refined sugar reduces fat storage and prevents obesity and its associated issues. Yes, being active during your day means higher calorie consumption and higher cardiac output, better sleep, better recovery and better growth and development.

So yes, on the surface the Apple Watch seems like the right option. But it isn’t.

Achieving a higher step rate today compared to yesterday is good, getting an extra hour sleep this week than you did last week is better. However, these numbers can be misleading and may provide you with a barrage of stats that, at the end of the day, don’t mean much at all.

The body has many, many responses to different exercises. It reacts to intensities, loads/volume, reps, sets, movement speed, time under tension and – very importantly and often forgotten about – rest. There are other important elements that a wearable can’t track: body type, muscle type, skeletal dimensions, range of movement, muscle fibre type, health profile, metabolic requirements and nutrition needs.

Now, take all of that and formulate it into a method that will allow you to adapt and progress steadily, safely and without injury. It’s a process, known in the sporting world as periodization. Periodization has been described by some of the world’s greatest coaches and athletes as, not so much a science but more of an art form. It’s pretty deep and way beyond the scope of the Apple Watch.

So should you rather find a specialist in periodization? Of course not!

running

As human beings we have the ability to know ourselves. We know what we like, how we feel, what interests we have as individuals and the understanding of the effects of extrinsic factors on our bodies. We have the ability to learn and progress, especially when we take things slowly and patiently and we listen to ourselves.

The Apple Watch is, unfortunately, a gadget that will lead you to believe that to become healthier or to make exercise easier then you must have one. This is not true by any means. You already have the best guide, tracker and monitor – and it’s you. Your mind, your body and your soul.

Of course exercise gadgets can prove to be useful and extremely practical but they’re available at a much lower cost and with higher degree of accuracy. My suggestion? Skip the needless gadgets. Instead, find a sport, activity or hobby that may interest you and kickstart your journey on the path to better health. You could lace up and hit the road, clang some iron, or learn a flying kick at a third of the cost of the Apple Watch. Chances are you will find a new interest that will ignite the process of eating healthier foods, getting deeper sleep, having energized waking hours and give you an overall feeling of wellbeing. Best of all, you will learn about you.

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Mischa Pereira

Mischa Pereira is a Personal Trainer based in Illovo, Johannesburg. With 16 years of experience and certifications with the International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA), Mischa is passionate about anything related to fitness, sports conditioning and performance. In addition, he also holds a 4th Dan in Taekwon-Do (ITF) and has represented South Africa as both a junior and senior competitor. He currently serves as the Technical Director and National Coach for the ITFSA.

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