Wearables and services to help you stay fit and focused while on lockdown

The world continues to shelter in place and will do so for at least the month of April. In order to help you pass the time and also maintain your mental and physical state, several health-related companies have sent along useful guidance to aid in this time of isolation.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

People can no longer workout at a gym, participate in a sporting event, or go about their typical daily lives as the world battles against the coronavirus. Shelter-in-place and social distancing present challenges to staying healthy and remaining in isolation, not to mention the constant bad news, is draining on our mental and physical state.

Some of us thankfully live in areas of low population density so we can go outside to run or walk without seeing other people on the road, trail, or track. Even with the ability to run safely outside, there are still many other things you can do to stay active and healthy on the days you don't run or bike. Here are several features, services, and more that various manufacturers of wearable technology can help you manage.

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While I like some of the features of other watches a bit better, Polar has the best race training programs and I am right in the middle of my half-marathon training plan with the Vantage V. The Polar Ignite, Vantage V, and Vantage M also support some excellent wellness tracking features that you should consider.

Image: Polar

Nightly Recharge and FitSpark help you stay healthy through personalized data measurement and advice. Nightly Recharge automatically measures how well your body recovers during the night, including from environmental and emotional stressors of the day. FitSpark takes that information, your training history and fitness level, and gives you a personalized workout guide, including exercises you can do right from home. It's like having a personal trainer, right from your wrist.

One aspect that you may not know about is contained within the Polar training plans. There are several stretching and bodyweight workout programs in the training plans that can be played on your phone as videos to walk you through static, dynamic, strength, and core exercises. I've been casting these videos to my TV so that the entire family can participate in these exercises and it is a fun way to all exercise together and be shown exactly how to perform the exercises. This is one aspect of the Polar training plans that helps me perform my best.

Also: Half marathon training with the Polar Vantage V: Detailed plans, reports, and coaching lead to solid results


Garmin has a host of wearables to choose from, including the Garmin Forerunner 945, Vivoactive 4, Venu, and many more. It recently sent along an email with a reminder of features in its devices to help you maintain your health and well-being.

  • Breathwork activities: Stress relief is so important, both for sanity and keeping your immune system high. New Breathwork activities can be accessed from Venu or vívoactive 4 and walk users through mindful and calming breathing exercises.
  • Body Battery: Self-care is so important. If you're running on empty, you're not doing your health or mental health any favors. Keep an eye on your body battery and use it as a cue to get more sleep, take more breaks etc.
  • Animated workouts: If you're used to working out at a gym or in a class, these animated workouts are a lifesaver. You can choose different preloaded workouts (yoga, Pilates, strength, cardio) and be assured your form is correct. Garmin also offers free coaching plans for those who want to get out and run.
  • Staying connected: Garmin Connect makes it easy to start friendly competitions and step challenges to keep you and your workout buddies connected from afar.
  • Health stats: Having your resting heart rate, sleep, stress, respiration, pulse ox and more right on your wrist is a great way to keep tabs on your health and give you peace of mind.

Garmin is also encouraging its associates and customers to participate in the #10KADAY step challenge and take 10,000 steps a day for 30 days. This is quite a challenge when working remotely, but I've seen stories of people running marathons in their backyards so it can be done. BTW, challenges against others are a great way to stay motivated during this isolation period.

Garmin Venu review: in pictures


Fitbit just announced its Charge 4 fitness band with integrated GPS and a review unit arrives tomorrow for further evaluation. Support for Fitbit Premium is provided with the Fitbit Charge 4.

To help people stay active during these tough times, Fitbit is offering 40 new pieces of Premium content free in the Fitbit smartphone app. Anyone new to Fitbit Premium also receives a 90-day free trial, normally 30 days, of this paid subscription service. The service includes personalized health insights, guidance, advanced sleep tools, customized programs, and more than 200 workouts from brands like barre3, Daily Burn, obé fitness, Physique 57, POPSUGAR and Yoga Studio: Mind & Body. The workouts are very helpful to mix things up and introduce variety and fun into your home workouts.


Several of my friends and coworkers recently joined Strava and I am seeing more kudos and challenges appear in the service. Strava recently rolled out its new Strava Routes feature and I've already ran three new routes thanks to the personalized route creation system.

If you have an Apple Watch then you may be pleased to know that enhanced support for Strava was launched in February so you can use your Apple Workout app and have all of your data synced automatically to Strava. Most GPS sports watches and smartwatches have the ability to sync to Strava so you have the flexibility to use the device you want to and still have an active cross-platform community to cheer you on.

Strava posted several common questions and answers regarding exercise and COVID-19 that is worth the read. One thing that might happen to some folks who are unable to work remotely is that they may end up overtraining and that is dangerous too as it could lead to injuries that may even require medical attention at a time when medical staff is needed to help patients battle coronavirus.

Also: Garmin Vivoactive 4 review: Touchscreen, advanced health tracking, golf, music, and more

Prior to the shelter-in-place order in Washington State I was commuting more than two hours a day to and from work, which made getting out to run when I returned home a challenging endeavor. Working from home gives me the opportunity to crank out all of my work and still have time for a run before dinner and time with the family. I've been running regularly three times a week and am doing well with my half-marathon training, even though the June race may be cancelled. An even better benefit of working remotely is that I have recorded an increase in my sleep of more than an hour a night for the past couple of weeks, which is important during this time when we need to stay healthy in case we personally have to battle COVID-19.

Stay safe everyone and try to maintain your health and wellness during these stressful and uncertain times. Let's all come out of this stronger and closer to our fellow humans.

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