Will splurging on the Apple Watch Sport help you get healthier?

The Right Click
The Sport version of the Apple Watch features a durable band and lighter body.

The Apple Watch Sport is certainly fashionable, but what about function?

The gorgeous gadget is currently part of a 12-page ad in the fashion bible, Vogue, and starts at $349 (US). And while it’s not yet clear when the watch will be available north of the border, many fitness-conscious Canadians are already considering splurging on one.

Apple Inc. is expected to unveil more details on Mar. 9. We already know the sport version comes with a bevy of functions, including Wi-Fi, GPS, a heart-rate sensor and an accelerometer. There will also likely be a boatload of apps allowing you to track your activity and boast about it online.

Jodi Robinson, a registered dietitian and fitness professional based in Grimsby, Ont., says many of her clients like to use activity trackers.

“They can help with accountability and motivation,” said Robinson in an interview with Yahoo Canada News.

She warns people shouldn’t focus too much on the stats as they might not be accurate. Dr. Gareth Jones, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences, agrees. The numbers, whether steps counted or calories burned, shouldn’t be taken as gospel, he notes.

While not perfect, the technology behind fitness tracking devices like the Apple Watch Sport is better than ever.

Dr. James McClain, a physical activity epidemiologist with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the U.S., said via email that accelerometers have vastly improved since health researchers first started using them in the 1980s.

Accelerometers, which can track total body movement and steps, are very useful. Experts used to have to heavily rely on people honestly and accurately filling out questionnaires. But people are reliably unreliable. Accelerometer-based activity monitors now provide invaluable objective information to NCI researchers.

Dr. Jones also uses accelerometers in his research with obese patients. He says the next step is ensuring the data gathered is shared with a patient’s health providers, such as their primary care doctor and specialists. He also preaches giving people the tools to understand the wealth of data now at our fingertips.

Data can push you to move more, and you don’t have to break the bank to get it. All three experts say a no-frills pedometer will do the trick. Indeed, a 2007 study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found using a pedometer increased physical activity by just over 2,000 steps per day.

The experts agreed there is no harm in using a more expensive item, such as Apple’s latest offering. But the trio did note people tend to quickly tire of activity-tracking devices. Consulting firm Endeavour Partners found one-third of U.S. consumers who have owned an activity tracker stopped using it within six months of getting it.

If a new sleek watch will help you to get you up off the couch, then why not splurge? The Apple Watch Sport will certainly make your wallet lighter instantly. If you want to make your body lighter, too, that may take more time (and sweat).

Follow Melissa on Twitter: @Melissa_Dunne33