‘I’m a Cardiologist, and This Is the Fitness Watch Metric That I Wish Everyone Would Ignore’

Photo: Getty/Xavier Lorenzo
We all love our Apple Watches. Raise your hands if you’ve ever forgotten yours at home, only to whip a U to retrieve it from your kitchen countertop? (Guilty.) A workout just hits differently when you see those three rings closed—but not all the metrics are created equal, according to a cardiologist. There are one or two that Michael Weinrauch, MD, the chairman of cardiology at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, says it might be time to ignore.

1. The stand ring

There is no question that we should all try and stand throughout the day and keep on the move as best we can. Study after study points to the negative effects that living a sedentary lifestyle can have on your overall health, from risks of cardiovascular disease to hypertension and beyond. But the nagging buzz on your arm to “stand up”? Dr. Weinrauch says this might not be the best way to go about it.

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“That can be a little bit of unnecessary noise,” he says. If you’re in the middle of a project or focused, the buzz to stand up can make you lose focus and even create a little anxiousness to close that ring. And according to Dr. Weinrauch, taking a few steps just for the sake of doing it isn’t going to give that many benefits. What does, however, offer big benefits is making a commitment to daily movement. So, instead of a quick lap around the room then back to the desk, he recommends making sure you’re carving out time to exercise for at least 30 or 45 minutes.

2. The calorie counter

Dr. Weinrauch points out that the calorie tracker isn’t always particularly accurate—a Stanford study from 2017 proves this out—and so the metric shouldn’t really have any impact on your day. “There are so many variables,” he says. “It’s fine to pay attention to it, but remember to pay attention to other factors that relate like your food, your overall diet, and how much you actually eat and workout intensity.” And remember to properly fuel for workouts so that you can have the energy and stamina that you need to get through whatever workout is on for that day.

With access to all of these metrics, it can feel a bit overwhelming to monitor your health closely so if you find that you're overwhelmed by having so much data on your wrist, take it off and go about your day. Remember that what matters most is that you move your body. And Dr. Weinrauch echoes this, saying that, in the end, it’s all about what works for you.“If the watch helps you stay active and you want to compete with yourself and see how you are improving," he says, "Then all the better."

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