Fitness watches seem to be everywhere, to the extent that for some of us the fitness watch has become so engrained in our way of life that leaving the house without it is inconceivable. How else will you know if you’re on track with your daily step and movement goals?


For sure, when they are incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, they can be a great asset to your fitness journey. They help you to achieve more by providing guidelines as well as motivation to get started with exercising more, if you struggle to make time for it, all of which contribute to improving your general health. Yet, are there things that the smart watch can’t measure? Yes, yes there are.


The first thing that the smartwatch cannot yet measure is motivation. Whilst the external motivation of meeting step counts and smashing goals will help in the short term, there is no evidence yet for fitness watches changing our long term motivation and improving healthy choices. In fact, in some studies half of the smart watch users, only used their wrist pieces for easier access to their email inbox and neglected the health trackers altogether.


This ties into the idea, that our motivation to change our lifestyle- whether that be doing more exercise or eating healthier and more sustainably, the desire to do it has to come from a deeper, intrinsic motivation. This is something very personal which a fitness watch can’t provide. If you are using a fitness watch to help get more active, then you need to first establish this motivation to exercise more. Consider why you want to move more – is it purely aesthetic, is it for mental clarity, is it because you want to improve your general long term health and prevent the onset of diseases related to inactivity? All of these are valid reasons, you just need to work out which one is relevant to you, so that in difficult times you can come back to this for support, to propel you forward in your training.


It’s also a good idea to ascertain what kind of movement you enjoy, as you are far more likely to stick to your exercise routine if you actually enjoy what you’re doing.


Another thing, which the fitness watch cannot measure is your flexibility. It’s true that heart rate data can give a pretty good idea of your recovery abilities and general fitness levels, however there isn’t yet a data value that has been associated with the bendiness of your limbs and your range of movement. Both of which are important for the prevention of injury – when you habitually stretch you are less likely to cause damage to your muscles should you fall awkwardly.


In addition to this, there isn’t actually a measure on your watch for injury, so if you’re allowing your wrist accessory to dictate how and when you exercise you may start to ignore physical cues from your body, such as pain in the knee when running. Not listening to these vital hints could mean that you end up causing more harm than good to yourself by increasing recovery time and causing damage to your muscles.


Ultimately though, as long as you can accept that sometimes your body does know best and understand that there will be periods where you see little progress, then your fitness watch can highlight achievements and signpost your areas for further development, which will allow you to train smarter and see better results.