The Fitness Zone

Unleashing the Potential: Apple Watch’s Impact on Health and Fitness

Aug 10, 2023 | by Brodie Hicks


Recently I was involved in a group discussion about the impact of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) on the world we now operate in. Each person shared either a new device, or a new piece of AI they were using frequently as part of their day-to-day operations. It’s in moments like these where I ponder the fact that there is absolutely no doubt that continued technological advancements have irrevocably changed the way we do business, order our Saturday night takeaway, or even complete our favourite exercise. 

However, technology is only as powerful as those who wield it. These days we can track anything from someone’s heart rate to an electrocardiogram (ECG); from their steps to their VO2max; or from their calories burned to the amount of REM sleep they obtained last night. With more data than we know what to do with, it can often at times feel like information overload for the average punter. Which is why having a device that simply and seamlessly provides you with the information you want to know, is invaluable.

The Apple Watch has emerged as a shining star amidst the digital galaxy, not only adorning countless wrists but also revolutionising the way we monitor and enhance our overall well-being. From its not so humble beginnings, the Apple Watch has continued to grow in popularity, with the latest Series 8 and the Apple Watch Ultra release pushing health and fitness wearables into new and exciting terrain. 

Throughout this blog post, we’ll explore the Apple Watch’s evolution from a fashionable accessory to a powerful tool for holistic health management. We’ll uncover its potential to motivate, inspire, and transform the way we approach our physical and mental well-being. So, strap on your Apple Watch, for we are about to embark on an exploration of its role in advancing the health and fitness industry.

The Beginnings

The first proper activity or fitness tracker was built way back in 1965 by a gentleman named Dr Yoshiro Hatano [1]. The device was called the “Manpo-kei” which translates to the “10,000 steps metre”, or more commonly referred to as the pedometer. The pedometer was a simple device typically clipped onto the waistband of a person’s pants, and served to track the number of steps someone took.

It wasn’t until 1982 that we saw another major advancement in the fitness wearable department, with Polar’s release of the Polar Sports Tester PE2000 [2]. The PE2000 was the world’s first wireless heart rate monitor and combined the use of a chest strap that wirelessly fed the heart rate back to the watch. This really was a major advancement for fitness enthusiasts providing unique insights on how an athlete’s body reacted to training and strain [3]. 

Polar, as well as a number of other businesses joining the market, would continue to enhance its watch models over the decades. These watches, however, never seemed to break into the larger market, remaining primarily for endurance activity fanatics. However, the tide began to turn when Fitbit emerged in 2007, and over the next seven years, it came to dominate the wearables market. The Fitbit immediately became the must-have device due to its simpler design, which let users tell the time, track their steps, and, most crucially, track their heart rate without the necessity of a chest strap.

Apple debuted the Apple Watch in April 2015 as the company’s first new popular product since the iPad in 2010, and while initial results were encouraging, many analysts highlighted that demand for the Apple Watch had fallen drastically since its launch [4]. It wasn’t until 2017 that the Apple Watch really took off, with Apple focusing on fitness and wellness features like water resistance and GPS [4]. Since 2017, Apple has gone from strength to strength, offering improvements to the Apple Watch that have changed the game forever.

The Here and the Now

Apple officially released the Apple Watch Series 8 in September 2022, along with the totally reimagined Apple Watch Ultra, which brought consumers a slew of additional capabilities that expanded the ways the Apple Watch may be utilised. 

Series 8

With health being one of the primary reasons people buy an Apple Watch, the company has doubled down on providing additional capabilities to help us better understand our overall health. While the ability to track and monitor heart rate and sleep patterns has been available for a few Apple Watch series now, the current Series 8 has integrated a new sensor that measures wrist temperature while you sleep. This tool has provided wonderful opportunities in the space of women’s health, allowing women to track body activities such as ovulation, cycle variations, cycle history, and so much more!

The Series 8 also offers functions such as Blood Oxygen and ECG monitoring – something that not too long ago would have required a trip to the doctor to obtain. Infact, I have witnessed the benefits of the Apple Watches ECG monitoring function first hand, with my Aunty recently being diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia. Much to my Auntie’s surprise, the first thing her doctor told her to buy as part of her rehabilitation was an Apple Watch so that both she and he could monitor the regularity of her heart beat at any time of the day! Not only does it track the information, but it has the ability to send the GP a report if any abnormalities are detected.

For the fitness enthusiasts, Apple has continued to double down on the available workouts, with the Apple Watch now able to provide increased running metrics, the ability to switch automatically between swimming, biking and running for triathletes, as well as a custom workout function. Not to mention automatically linking to your phone or Apple TV when completing your guided workout through the Apple Fitness+ app. 

Apple Watch Ultra

Brand new to the Apple Watch family is the “Ultra”. Drawing inspiration from explorers and athletes who seek to conquer extreme environments, the Apple Watch Ultra boasts a reimagined design, and new features catering to the needs of endurance athletes, explorers, and the everyday outdoor enthusiast alike.

Offering everything the new Series 8 offers, the Apple Watch Ultra also provides some features that will excite many fitness enthusiasts. One of the major drawbacks to any smart watch (or smart device for that matter) is the constant issue of battery life. The Ultra has gone a long way to silence those concerns, with up to 36 hours of battery life for everyday use, it ensures uninterrupted functionality throughout the day. The low power mode combined with longer workouts such as marathons, triathlons or hiking, can extend the battery life to 17 hours making it perfect for these endurance events.

Accurate data is paramount for outdoor enthusiasts and endurance athletes, and the Apple Watch Ultra delivers on that front. Despite not directly impacting the watch’s aesthetics, the inclusion of a new dual-frequency GPS system sets it apart. This advanced technology ensures unparalleled GPS accuracy, even in challenging environments where tall buildings, trees, or dense foliage often hinder satellite visibility.

Beyond catering to endurance-based activities, the Apple Watch Ultra proves to be an excellent companion for water sports enthusiasts. With an impressive water resistance rating of up to 100m, it transforms into a fully compatible dive computer, making it ideal for recreational scuba diving up to 40m. The watch offers a range of features such as dive planning and logbook functions, compass readings, oxygen parameters, maximum depth warnings, temperature warnings, excessive ascent rate warnings, and safety stop recommendations. These comprehensive capabilities make the Apple Watch Ultra an exceptional choice for water-based adventures, impressing users with its functionality and reliability.

The Wrap Up

In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, Apple stands out as a frontrunner in delivering innovative solutions for health and fitness enthusiasts. While there are numerous wearable devices in the market offering specific functionalities like heart rate monitoring, health tracking, GPS capabilities, or even dive computer features, few manage to seamlessly combine all of these elements while maintaining a stylish design that garners admiration from both tech-savvy individuals and fashion-conscious users.

Apple’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation has resulted in a range of products, with the Apple Watch being a prime example of their success in the health and fitness space. With features such as advanced heart rate monitoring, comprehensive health tracking, precise GPS performance, and even specialised functionalities for activities like swimming and diving, the Apple Watch offers an all-in-one solution that caters to a wide range of fitness enthusiasts.

What sets Apple apart is their ability to strike a harmonious balance between cutting-edge technology and sleek aesthetics. The Apple Watch not only delivers on performance and functionality but also boasts a design that complements various personal styles, making it a fashion statement on the wrist.

As technology continues to shape the future of health and fitness, Apple remains at the forefront, consistently raising the bar for what is possible in this field. Whether you’re a dedicated athlete, an outdoor adventurer, or someone simply striving to lead a healthier lifestyle, Apple’s commitment to innovation ensures that their products will continue to empower users with the tools they need to achieve their goals—all while looking effortlessly stylish in the process.


Brodie Hicks

Brodie Hicks

With his background in Strength and Conditioning, Brodie Hicks has coached multiple semi-professional & professional athletes in Australia over the last 7+ years, whilst also working to improve training and vocational outcomes within the fitness industry in his role as General Manager of Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF). Brodie brings a raft of knowledge and experience to the health and fitness industry, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Movement Science, as well as a Masters Degree in High Performance Sport. Brodie is also a Level 2 ASCA Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association. In addition to his work at the AIF, Brodie also manages a coaching business, Performance Evolved Australia, and is Master Coach and Program Director of an interstate boutique group training studio, bringing his extensive strength and conditioning knowledge to the group training world.

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