No More Activity Rings

The time that I was the most fit was when I lived in Portland the first time from 2009 to 2014. The Apple Watch didn’t exist, and the most advanced tracking I ever had was a basic Fitbit pedometer. Since then, I’ve tracked a lot about my fitness. I have heart rate data going back years now. I can tell you my Vo2 max, which isn’t even a thing I knew existed before a few months ago.

Am I in better shape though? Would I be in worse shape if I didn’t have all of this data? I don’t know.

Beyond basic step tracking, I’m not entirely convinced collecting any these data has had any practical use for me or have made me any healthier. The reason I was more fit before was that I was riding my bike and walking everywhere. I didn’t need to track it to know, I know it because of how I felt at the time.

If you’re a hardcore athlete, tracking these things probably has some use. What if you’re just someone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle and feel good? Do I even have the expertise to turn these numbers into anything truly actionable?

Anyone who has tracked their activity before knows the feeling of leaving home for a walk or bike ride and forgetting their activity tracker. If you don’t track it, does it even count? But that’s ridiculous — tracking your bike ride isn’t what makes it healthy, it’s doing the thing. Wearing an Apple Watch that tells you that you closed all your rings today doesn’t change anything. In fact, I think it could be counter-productive.

Here’s why: once your watch tells me that I’ve closed those rings, I tend to feel done. I did the activity and hit the arbitrary goal, and now I don’t need to think about fitness anymore. If I don’t have that, the only metric I can use is how I feel. If you learn to listen to your body, I think it will tell you when you’ve had enough.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to worry about closing rings. I’m going to wear whatever watch I feel like, I’m going to walk or bike whenever it’s an option to get where I’m going, and I’m going to let the numbers take care of themselves.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Collin Donnell @collin