Are you ready to achieve real progress in your fitness, stress, or sleep goals? Until recently, measuring custom health data required sophisticated equipment. Now, you can carry the most advanced health tracking technology right on your wrist or finger.
When it comes to setting and reaching your health goals, nothing beats trackable, personalized metrics, but with so many options available in the market, getting started isn’t always straightforward. So we asked our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Myles Spar—a national leader in Men’s Health and former consultant to the NBA—to identify why wearables work, how to best incorporate them into your routine, and which devices he swears by.
I recommend using wearables for two specific reasons. First, they’re motivating. With the right device, you can see how specific actions can benefit or detract from your goals. For example, you can use data to see how what you drank the night before affected your sleep patterns or training the next day. Setting specific goals helps you track the metrics in black-and-white right on the device.
The second advantage is accountability. Wearables hold you accountable to your goals, and if you don’t make any progress, there’s nowhere to hide. We’ve all talked ourselves into thinking we’re getting healthier by looking in the mirror and commending ourselves on slightly bigger-looking biceps or a flatter stomach, but if you aren’t measuring your progress with data, chances are your health isn’t magically getting any better.
What’s the best way to work wearables into your routine?
The most important part of working the right wearable into your routine is identifying your top goal and the one or two most important metrics that will help you get there.
A lot of today’s wearables come with many different data sets, and it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the available options. To narrow the field, first identify your goal: do you want to improve your fitness, stress levels, or sleeping patterns?
Then, pick one or two metrics for that goal that are most important to your progress. Have fun with identifying these metrics, but try to select one or two directly that correlate with your goal and are most likely to change your behavior and improve the likelihood of achieving a desired outcome.
Here are the top metrics I’d recommend based on your specific goal:
Fitness: Heart rate, Recovery time, V02 max (maximal oxygen uptake during exercise)
Stress: HRV (Heart rate variability)
Sleep: REM Sleep, Deep Sleep
What are your top recommendations for wearable?
There are four wearables that I use in my personal rotation and recommend to friends, patients, and professional athletes, depending on their goals: Apple Watch, Oura Ring, Whoop Band, and Garmin.
For Beginners: Apple Watch
The Apple Watch is a great all-around wearable that’s very user-friendly. What’s more, in their most recent round of software updates, Apple added significant personalization, health, and fitness features to the watch—including sleep tracking; health tracking; advanced calorie exertion captures; and new support for workouts like core training, dance, functional strength training, and cooldowns. Though it’s not the most accurate device on the market, if you use it consistently over time, it’s accuracy and personalization improve and are absolutely sufficient to get the job done.
Overall, if you’re new to wearables and goal-tracking, the Apple Watch is a great place to start.
For Sleep: Oura Ring
For people committed to specifically improving their sleep, it doesn’t get any better than the Oura Ring. It measures quality of sleep as well as stress levels by tracking HRV (heart rate variability). It’s also a more attractive design than most wearables, and is worn on the finger, rather than the wrist. Many athletes use the Oura Ring to accurately track their sleep and stress levels and use that data to inform their training.
For non-athletes, the Oura Ring is best suited for those not interested in tracking fitness. If your primary goal is sleep and your secondary goal is stress management, this is a fantastic option.”
For Fitness Professionals: Whoop
Many professional athletes, including the MLB, swear by the Whoop band, which tracks fitness, sleep, and stress metrics. Unlike other wearables, the Whoop band also tracks strain for custom exertion and recovery recommendations based on the previous day’s sleep and training. Two downsides to consider: customer service and design. Unfortunately, many dedicated users have reported poor customer service with Whoop. Finally, as a large elastic band that’s worn on the wrist, its aesthetic is average at best.
If you’re a serious athlete who would benefit from strain tracking, Whoop may be the best wearable for you.
For Training: Garmin Forerunner® 935
Garmin’s Forerunner watch is a bit more sophisticated than the Apple Watch and is a great tool for accurately tracking each training session by measuring heart rate, recovery time, and V02 max. It doesn’t measure stress and it’s not great for measuring sleep, but I use it when training for triathlons and love that it syncs with apps on my phone, like Apple Health.
If you want a more sophisticated wearable than the Apple Watch and fitness is your main goal, I’d recommend Garmin’s Forerunner watch.
Whichever wearable you choose, make sure to have fun with it. Once you reach your goal, set another. Keep in mind you can always mix and match the right wearable with a new goal or activity so you can keep building on your results.
Did you know we have a podcast? Tune in to hear Vault’s Dr. Myles Spar, Dr. Alex Pastuszak, and CEO Jason Feldman take on some of the more practical, awkward, hilarious, relatable, mind-boggling, and fun questions around men’s health.