Wearables. Huge companies are spending millions in marketing to make it seem like you need one. Smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart bracelets, smart rings, and more are just some of the types of wearables you might see. I personally didn’t think any of these items would be useful, but not to be ignorant with my opinion I decided to buy one to find out the truth about living with one.
I had a Samsung Galaxy S III at the time Samsung released the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo. I liked how the battery lasted a bit longer than the competition and how it had an IR blaster so I could control the TV and other IR controlled devices with it. However, I definitely didn’t want to pay the huge price tag for something that could change the TV and send me a few notifications from time to time. Just didn’t seem worth it. Also, the regular Gear 2 had horrible quality camera and even larger price tag, both of which I wasn’t feeling.
Then Christmas 2014 came around and the Gear 2 Neo was on sale for $99. I ironically happened to get a random $100 cheque in the mail the same day and figured screw it, might as well buy it and see what this whole craze thing is about.
Although the cheque was in my name and was technically my money, in my mind, it was free money and I was only paying the tax out of my pocket. Even if it sucked, I wouldn’t be out too much money, and, of course, if I liked it, it would be a huge win. A week or so passes and my smartwatch arrives in the mail. The design was alright and I liked the buckle, but I still wasn’t sure if it was worth buying. After months of using it I began to enjoy it a little more. The IR blaster was awesome, and I’m not sure I’d buy another smartwatch without one, but there was one other function I never expected to like. That one feature was the step counter.
Before I get in to why I liked it so much let me first explain my thoughts on all of these fitness trackers, specifically the ones that count your steps. I hate to break it to you, but counting your steps is pointless. If you want real weight loss, or want to get in great shape, counting steps is probably the worst way to do it. It’s just not intense enough for any real gains. This is why I was strongly against devices like Fitbit and other step counters. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a fitness tracker to count your steps too.
As you can probably see from the paragraph above, I did not view step counting too highly. I didn’t bother to test counting my steps, or even setting up the step counter on my smartwatch because I disliked it so much. That’s until the day I upgraded to the Galaxy S6 Edge, and extremely frustratingly, Samsung forced me to wipe my entire Gear 2 Neo to be compatible with my new Samsung phone. It erased all the apps I had, most of which I’ll never get back as they aren’t in the new Gear Store, but also randomly turned on my most hated feature, the step counter.
I had never used the feature and didn’t even know it was on at first. However, one day I randomly got alerted that I reached a 5000 step count goal. Again, I didn’t know it was turned on and thought it was a fluke, but the next day, and day after that I kept getting this notification. Every once in a while I’d hit the big goal of 10,000 steps. I work on a computer all day, so I don’t need to walk too much and hitting 10,000 steps just seemed so impressive to me. The more time that went on the more excited I’d get to see the 10,000 step goal. Then, of course, there are the really busy days where I’d go past 10,000 steps. Every step past the 10,000 mark was like a little victory.
Also, every step past the goal is a new total step goal. I still remember the day I hit over 13,000 steps because it was July 1st, Canada day, and I was writing my article comparing power savings mode with full power on the Galaxy S6 Edge. Every day past that day I’d wonder when the next time was going to be where I’d have a chance at beating that previous goal. I came close a few times, but always came up short. Some days I’d see I passed the 10,000 mark and try to walk a bit more than I needed just to try and get a few more steps in. Finally on November 4 of last year, I finally smashed my previous goal with over 15,000 steps! I don’t really know why I walked that much on that particular day, but I finally beat it, and that is all that mattered. I was really excited to finally see a new “high score”, maybe a little too excited. This is when I realized I was addicted to counting my steps. My most hated feature of any wearable was suddenly the only thing I cared about.
One of the biggest features with any smartwatch is the ability to change the watch face. I wouldn’t call myself a watch aficionado, but I do own many different types of watches for different situations, and because of this, always used a classy traditional watch face on my smartwatch. If you get a nice one it really makes the smartwatch look a lot nicer. You can also change the bands on the Gear 2 Neo as well as on some other smartwatches, and this also really steps up the quality and look of them. However, my step addiction was so intense I actually ended up changing the watch face to a Samsung default one that showed the time at the top and step counter at the bottom. Never in a million years would I have ever thought I’d do something like that.
Within the last year my outlook on wearables and primarily step counters are much brighter than before. Getting notifications is nice, making calls from the watch is cool, and step counting is actually fun. Even if you don’t care about losing weight or counting your steps it is just fun to have an exact number written down for how many steps you took that day and be able to look back at how many steps you took earlier that week. It also reminds you to walk more when your steps are really low compared to roughly the same time as the day before.
I can’t 100% say that walking more will make you that much healthier or keep the weight down, but it’s obviously going to help a little. However, watching your diet, having an intense workout program, and counting your steps is definitely going to make major changes. All the step counter wearables and smartwatches usually have health apps that can show you if you have been kind of lazy or have been doing a good job. It becomes a game to try and better your score from the day or week before.
Mine connects with Samsung’s S Health app and also tells you your rough distance traveled and calories burnt. Today I walked about 12km (7.5 miles) and burnt almost 2000 calories, which is pretty insane considering I didn’t even do anything special. Seeing these large numbers and realizing just how crazy they are is what makes it fun. For example, burning 2000 calories just from walking is the equivalent of roughly half a medium sized chocolate cake, 16 bananas, 47 pieces of bacon, 285 almonds, 39 entire stocks of broccoli, and so on. Technically I didn’t need the step counter at all to walk this much or to burn this many calories, but it’s just cool to put some statistics to your day.
Also, I find step counters to be like a “gateway drug” into fitness. They themselves may not directly help you lose weight or get you into shape, but they act as an easy first step to get into the fitness lifestyle. They give you that little taste of what it’s like to track things, and makes you pay a little more attention to making healthier decisions. These skills are the most important to have when trying to make serious improvements in your health. They also make it fun as they give you real awards you can see for hitting your goals, unlike real life where nothing happens. For these reasons, I definitely think buying a wearable step counter or turning it on, on your smartwatch is something you should consider. I have had a lot more fun with mine than I ever thought I would.
Smartwatches are pretty cool, but those of you who don’t feel they need all the bells-and-whistles from a smartwatch may still want to check out a Fitbit or other step counting device for tracking their steps. It’s pretty fun to do and requires no effort on your part since you were going to be walking around all day anyways. Mine as well make that more fun and exciting.
Hopefully you enjoyed my story and thoughts on step counting as well as my brief thoughts on wearables. I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about wearables and/or step counting in the comments. Also, please tell me if you’d like to hear about my thoughts on using a smartwatch for over a year. I think I have some interesting views that others would be interested in hearing, especially if you are considering buying one.