After having my Polar A360 for more than 2 years, it was time for an upgrade. I am a Polar brand loyalist as I found their app and devices stable , reliable and tough enough to deal with my training and my clumsiness. When deciding to upgrade, I took into account that running has become part of my favourite exercises and I wanted a GPS watch to avoid having to run with my phone. The upgrade to a GPS is a big step on the budget but with the Polar M600 it’s worth every cent.
Size and Comfort
Let’s start with the basics. Initially, my main concern was the size of the Polar M600. It seemed to be bulk, too big for my wrists and may be uncomfortable during day-to-day activities. Boy was I wrong! Admittedly, my husband upgraded to the M600 before I did and I wore his watch for a few days to test comfort and fit. After noticing that it’s not as bulky as I thought, I took the plunge and bought it.
The watch strap is more secure than the Polar A360 with multiple notches and 2 bands to keep the watch in place. Normally I don’t wear any watch while sleeping but due to it’s advanced sleep tracking, I’ll wear it during weeks where I want to monitor and ensure that I get enough ZZZzzzzzz’s.
Before you start
Ensure your watch is on full charge coming out of the box, if not, place it on charge while downloading WearOS (mine is paired with my Samsung S8 phone) and connecting the watch with your phone. Once connected, doing a firmware update is essential to ensure that your watch’s functionality operates accurately and efficiently from the get go.
The battery life of the watch depends on how you use it’s functionality. On saver mode, it will last approximately 3 days, but on full blown mode with full brightness and all notifications on, about a day. Battery life in general on tech devices have become the weakest feature on them but in saying that, I am used to charging my phone daily, so charging my watch daily is not big deal.
The charger on the Polar M600 differs to the pin-based charged of the A360. It’s magnetic and sticks better into the watch and can be charged via USB. The placement can be a little uncomfortable so when you plug it in, make sure it’s actually charging.
Top tip: use battery saver mode, don’t set your screen or watch face to bright and disable any unnecessary notification in the WearOS app.
Stand Out Features
- GPS/GLONASS: This was a game changer for me. Tracking my runs without having a phone has been a blessing and put my mind at ease for safety reason. The GPS is pretty accurate and consistent throughout the entire run. GLONASS which is similar to GPS is also a feature on the M600 and has better accuracy at high latitudes.
- Top Tip: on distance tracking training profiles, ensure that the GPS indicator stops and buzzes BEFORE you start your run/swim etc
- Music While You Train: I usually train at my home gym with my setup streaming music on a TV so I never had the need for Bluetooth earphones until I got the Polar M600 and started running longer distances. I got a cheap pair (R200) and it syncs beautifully with my watch, has great sound low volume, and the watch remains connected throughout my running. Nothing quite like a great beat to push you into smashing those PBs.
- Smart Coaching:
- Running Index. A figure will be indicated on your training summary at the end of your run. The higher your reading, the better your aerobic fitness. The Polar Flow web app will also give you predictions on an estimated time it should take you to certain distances.
- Training Load. This will indicate the intensity of your session which is fantastic if you are striving for a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
- Training Benefit. After your training session, your watch will give you feedback on the fitness components you managed to improve during your sessions plus a motivating message.
- Recovery Status. Worried about over or under training? This feature is for you. For a while I was wondering whether I am training as hard as I used to, especially after my knee op earlier this year. I checked my Recovery Status from a few months ago on the Polar Flow Web portal which remained mostly in the “strained” section and compared it to my current status which is now a good mix of “balanced” and “strained”.
- Sleep Plus: This cool feature will tell you if you are ACTUALLY sleeping well, automatically picking up when you fall asleep and indicating any interruptions during your sleep cycle. It will also indicate your continuous sleep quality on a scale of 1 to 5.
- Top Tip: Enable “Do not disturb” mode before going to bed.
Other Cool Features
- Smart notifications. I must admit, I’ve disabled most notifications as I don’t want distractions especially during the work day. But for someone not desk bound like myself, this can be pretty great to make sure the don’t miss an important call or e-mail.
- Inactivity Alerts. Imperative for those of us who sit a lot, behind a desk all day or on the couch!
- Running Programs. The one feature I am dead curious to try once I’ve finished my current training program. The Polar Flow app apparently has guides to training for your first 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon.
- Swimming Metrics. Even though I’ve never been a swimmer (our ocean is way too cold!) The watch is one of Polar’s first to offer metrics for the water babies amongst us. And of course it’s waterproof. My husband snorkelled with his every single day while on holiday and the watch remained reliable and stable.
Recommended Extra Apps to download
- Wearmedia for transfer and play of music.
- Top Tip: Want a great mix? Transfer a folder with your playlist of songs as ONE folder to your phone then your watch.
- Watchmaker for customized watch faces. Another cool watchface app is Bits
- Lifesum for tracking on calories and other healthy habits on your wrist.
The Polar M600 has motivated be to get back into running after months of recovery post knee op. It’s given me the push I needed to try again and ignited a passion I knew was there but had forgotten about. The watch also forced me to analyze my sleep patterns better and my training style which I like to keep varied. The Recovery Status feature specifically assisted me in clarifying whether I am over-training or not.
Your Questions Answered
Can you please music through it? Yes, via Bluetooth earphones. The watch itself doesn’t have a speaker.
How accurate is the GPS? Very accurate. I’ve run with my phone and watch, tracked my route via Google Maps and it all came back with the same results within 10 meters of each other.
How long is the battery life? Can it do a marathon? Battery life with GPS is 8 hours.
Fitness trackers can either be a really good thing for you, or if you tend to obsess over numbers, it can be a trigger. But there is a middle ground, a positive way to these nifty gadgets can add value to your day to day life, and improve your health and fitness journey.
Part 1: How to use a fitness tracker keep you motivated on your health and fitness.
So you’ve spend a few grand on a brand new watch. But you still can’t haul your butt out for a run. Or maybe your workouts have become meh. Here’s my tips to make full use of your watch investments and use it to it’s fullest capabilities to motivate you. To keep your workouts challenging and to push your limits.
Track your sleep.
The importance of enough sleep has been reiterated lately in so many articles, if you haven’t jumped on that band wagon yet, it may be time. I know this is supposed to be a post about getting motivated to exercise, but no one wants to exercise if they are constantly tired or fatigued. Most watches these days have the ability to track sleep. Track yours for a few days and see where you fall short. Then do everything you can do get more zzzzz’s and in turn more energy to get your workout in.
Burn Baby Burn. Calories that is.
If you are on a weight loss journey, a tracker can be a great way to ensure you burn and push hard enough during your workouts. Most trackers aren’t 100% accurate but it will give you an idea of how many calories you burnt during your workout session and throughout the day. Losing weight comes down to calories in and out, and if you are not pushing hard enough, it may be time to change to a more challenging form of exercise.
*You cannot exercise bad eating. EVER. So using this as punishment for eating bad is a NO GO.
**If your aim isn’t to lose weight. Skip this tip.
Knowing whether your body is burning carbs or fat during your workout can be a game changer. I found during my runs, I burn less fat, and during my strength workouts, I born more fat. What your goals are my differ but if fat loss is included in your goals, your watch can motivate you to switch things up and perhaps try a different style of workout that’s more aligned with your goals.
Move your BUTT.
The dreaded inactivity stamp on my watch I try to avoid at all costs. It forces me to get up from my desk and not sit for too long, to take a break and stretch my legs.
In essence, using a fitness tracker as motivation does require a bit of getting into the numbers and understanding what it means for your health and fitness journey. Once you understand your goals and how your tracker can help you work towards it, don’t get caught up too much in the numbers. The slope to obsession can be slippery so proceed with caution.
Part 2: Student or Office Worker? Read on!
In part of of my fitness tracker series, I’d like to give some tips on using a fitness watch to improve your health if you are forced to sit most of the day.
BAD TO THE BONE: SITTING
Working a 9 to 5 job and sitting for the bulk of the day can affect your general health adversely. Slower metabolism, bad posture, chronic pain, increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and obesity are all possible side effects of sitting too long. A truly depressing thought if you consider that a big chunk of the human population are office bound, sitting in traffic then get home to Netflix and Chill.
GET UP, STAND UP: INACTIVITY ALERTS
But what if you love your job and you don’t mind being behind a desk? A fitness device can be the game changer. Most watches have inactivity alerts, buzzing on your wrists if you are sitting for longer than an hour. That “inactivity stamp” to me is like that black dot we got in primary school for misbehaving and I like to avoid them like the plague. So I get up and get moving the moment that alert pops up.
LET ME MOVE YOU: ACTIVITY GOALS
When setting up the device, most will ask what type of job you have and a daily activity goal will be set. This goal is determined by your steps and heart rate. Most days of the week, I ensure that I have met my daily activity goal via an exercise session of 30 to 60 minutes. Whether it’s running or strength training, seeing that I’ve reached 100% on my watch is a huge motivator for moving my body. On rest days, my step count contributes to my daily goal and I ensure I go for a long leisurely walk with the dogs.
WALK THIS WAY: 10 000 STEPS OR ACTIVE 10
Either activity will contribute towards your general health and it’s really up to you to see what will suit your schedule. During Active 10, you walk briskly for 10 minutes, 3 times a daily to get your heart and lungs working. Essentially more efficient.
But if you like tracking those numbers, 10 000 steps still have benefits like clearing your mind from that tough meeting, revving your metabolism and strengthening your heart.