There’s nothing quite like the moment spring finally rolls around, when the warmth in the sun begins to return and the days feel lighter and longer. For many, with the change of season comes a renewed sense of energy and a stronger desire to hit those wellness goals we often neglect in the hibernation-heavy winter months.
As I found out on a recent sunny spring morning, one such wearable accessory which promises to keep you on track is the Samsung Galaxy Watch. I tested the gadget’s ability to track your current stress state, heart rate and other health and wellness measurements while engaging in a Wim Hof method activation along with a group of other media and wellness experts.
But firstly – what is the Wim Hof method?
If you haven’t heard of it, you’ve probably seen it trending on Instagram and other social platforms - it’s the activity where people (sober and sane) undertake ice baths or cold water immersions with the promise of better physical and mental wellbeing. Wim Hof (named after a Dutch extreme athlete of the same name) is based on three powerful pillars – cold therapy, breathing and commitment (because like any wellness or fitness goal, consistency and dedication to the task is key). According to Hof (and now many studies) proper exposure to the cold starts a cascade of health benefits, including the build-up of brown adipose tissue and resultant fat loss, reduced inflammation that facilitates a protected immune system, balanced hormone levels, improved sleep quality, and the production of endorphins – the feel-good neurochemicals that naturally enhance your mood. Hof attributes his breathing techniques as to why he can last in the cold. During our exercise, our Wim Hof instructor Nigel Beach from Element Health guides us through the controlled hyperventilation, exhalation and breath retention process that we repeat three times.
During the breathing exercises, I check my Watch a few times to track my stress levels and heart rate. Both are down – a good sign. After three rounds of the breathing exercises, it’s time to strip off, and test out the ice bath side of things. Checking again, my heart rate has shot through the roof, my adrenaline pumping, most likely preparing me for the next two minutes where I’ll be unable to feel my limbs. During the first ten or so seconds in the ice I struggle to catch my breath, but Nigel reminds me of the breathing techniques we’d just practiced and how I need to consciously focus on it once more. I quickly start to calm down and control my breath, and although numb tingling persists through the course of the immersion, I am able complete it with relative ease (if that’s even a thing).
Hopping out of the bath, the Watch shows my heart rate has lowered significantly and I’m feeling calm – those endorphins doing their thing. I’m still so fascinated that the fancy rose gold accessory on my wrist is tracking my heart rate and stress levels and it’s totally fine to wear in the water. What’s also cool about the watch is that it will tell me when my parasympathetic nervous system (fight or flight stress mode) is kicking in again, prompting me to ‘breathe’ again - a great way of getting me back on track. On the contrary, if my heart rate lowers drastically, I’ll get a reminder to ‘get moving!’ which I think is pretty cool.
During this activation, we mainly touched on the heart rate, stress level and breathing reminder functions the Galaxy Watch features, but there’s so much more this incredible piece of technology has to offer – both for helping track your wellbeing and for staying organised and up to date with all things everyday life. The Watch’s sensor also monitors your sleep cycles – tracking how deep your sleep is over the course of the night – and letting you know if it’s time to slow down and rest some more. Users can also start and end their day with briefings to stay on top of reminders, weather and their latest schedule. You can check your messages and even take a phone call from the Watch. The part that got me though, was the Watch even has Spotify - so if you’re doing something and want to go sans phone – simply put in your wireless headphones and play your music with a tap of your wrist. And you’ll also be glad to hear the Watch has an improved battery life of up to 80 hours, eliminating the need for daily charging.
So while I might not be engaging in an ice bath every day, I was super interested to learn about this latest wellness craze and totally bought into its benefits. I might not go all the way as to say I’ll be having cold showers daily, but a dip in the ocean after working up a sweat has more appeal to me now. And as for the Galaxy Watch – it’s a no brainer. This is the new must-have accessory – and makes for a great gift for yourself or a loved one this Christmas.
The Samsung Galaxy Watch is available in three sleek new designs, including Silver, Midnight Black and Rose Gold, as well as customisable band colours. Find out more about the watch at samsung.com/nz