You Might Need a Break from your Smartwatch. Here’s Why.

With many of us attending school from home, working from home, and/or transitioning into a sedentary lifestyle, I’ve heard that having a smartwatch can help you keep track of your movement and fitness goals. Given my history of struggling with food and obtaining a healthy lifestyle, I was reluctant to invest in a smartwatch. Eventually, I received one as a Christmas gift. I decided to focus on tracking my sleep and daily steps and avoiding calorie data.

It was all well until I reached a point where I was moving less and snacking more because of midterm stress. I dedicated myself to getting back into a healthy routine when my schedule slowed down in huge deadlines. That was when my smartwatch became an obsession, the exact thing that made me cautious to buy it. I had been a little out of shape and I was constantly tracking my steps and calories to make sure I was doing my fitness “right.” I just wanted to get back into exercising again but tracking the intensity and quantity of those workouts often stripped any enjoyment I felt from them.

Since I’ve experienced this obsessive pattern with nutrition and exercise, I was able to recognize myself falling back into them. I wanted to get back into the habit of exercising, not turn it into a competition of how much I can exert in each session. I knew then that I should try walking and exercising without my smartwatch and gauge how I feel. It has been a week since I’ve worn my watch and there’s a sense of relief that I don’t feel obligated to track my steps every time I go on a walk (or pay attention to the calorie burn when I do a boxing workout.) Not paying attention to these numbers allowed me to focus on how I feel during exercise and I’ve been able to enjoy myself again. Moreover, I feel more in tune. Each workout, I feel stronger and am able to push myself more. Before, I only cared about the time and intensity according to my watch.

A smartwatch can be a good tool for tracking how much movement you have in a day along with the many features provided depending on the model. But it’s a tool, nothing more, nothing less. Just because it tracks numbers doesn’t mean that your life is dictated by them. This is something I’ll continue to remind myself when the watch is back on my wrist again. The important takeaway: if you're getting back in the habit of exercising or developing a healthy lifestyle, focus on how you feel and your strength and your energy. If you're getting caught-up with the tally your smartwatch produces (like I was) it’s worth giving the watch a break and exploring how you feel without it.

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