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Health & Fitness: Exercising and my Garmin GPS Watch

This post contains affiliate links.

So lets talk about fitness. 

It seems that pretty much everyone these days has 'problems' with their weight.  Do I?  Quite frankly no.  Am I overweight? A bit, yes.  "WHAT! You're a nutritional Therapist, how could you !!"  Well, it's easily done when you LOVE food, even the healthy stuff.  Not even I am perfect.  (Although my mum might take you into the pub car park and have a heated discussion with you about that.) But I'm now in my (early) 40s, never even thought about my weight until my 30s, was having too much of a good time in my 30s to be really that bothered about it, and now am more concerned with being healthy. 

I'm not going to beat around the bush here; being severely overweight and/or obese is NOT

healthy.  So if you're offended by someone who is not going to tell you that big is beautiful, then jog right on fella.  I'm a nutritional therapist.  That means I know what goes on in the inside as well as how you look on the outside, and let me tell you, it ain't pretty when it's swimming in calcium deposits and globules of sticky fat. 

However, enough of the preaching, because my Bloggy Old Me post this week is actually going to be about my Garmin GPS watch.  (this is not a sponsored post, but I will be posting an affiliate link at the end, so feel free to make me some money)

I've actually been on annual leave this week from work and have been really motivated to exercise more.  I really love exercise, and my love of sport started at a young age with competitive Netball, (if you're not from a Commonwealth country, Google it or better still check out some matches on YouTube - it's a great sport) Tennis, and Hockey, at school.  It kind of died off a bit (a lot, ah hem) in my 20s as I was learning how to party hard and shirk my responsibilities, underwent a bit of a revival in my 30s when I found out that from around 36 things start to look a bit different in the birthday suit area, and in my 40s I've been trying to get back to it as often as possible due to an ever creeping increase on the scale, a growing sense of being almost half way (probably) through my time on this planet, and a wardrobe full of fantastic clothes, which look fantastic on the hangers, but not so fantastic on me.  (think stuffed sausage)

However, back to this week and to my Garmin watch.  I've tried a couple of different Fitness Watches.  You know, the ones which claim to measure your heart rate, blood pressure, hat size and whether you dreamt of Idris Elba last night, (just me? No, didn't think so) and frankly found them to be a waste of money.  I thankfully didn't fork out over a 100 quid/bucks/euro's etc for a market leading one (mentioning no names) as after reading several reviews, the cheaper ones (around 30-40euros) seemed to be just as good, if not better. 

However, as a test, I compared them to the heart rate monitor that I use with my Garmin Watch and there was simply no comparison.  The heart rate measurement on the Fitness Watch (and the 2nd one they sent me for free when I wrote an honest review about the first) was so vastly out of whack with what my heart rate actually was, it could in no universe imaginable, be of any use other than to look like you're fitting in with the crowd and monitoring your fitness. 

How did I find this out? 

Easy!  I wore my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor at the same time and compared graphs.  The Fitness Watches work by firing a light at the veins in your wrist and measuring the volume of blood pulsing through.  If you're just walking down the road to mail a letter (yes, people do still do that) or sitting binging Luther on Netflix (Idris again) it works just fine.  Work up any kind of sweat and you may as well chuck it in the bin.

But I digress.  On to the review.  I'm the proud owner of a Garmin Forerunner 220.  It's probably about their most basic watch and I've had it about 5 years now.  It comes with a chest strap that fits snugly round your torso, just under your boobs/moobs/pulsing pecks.  I had a little bit of trouble getting it to output correctly in the beginning, but only really because I didn't read the instructions properly and found that it works perfectly if you wet the strap first.  Once I had that worked out, I must say I've had no problems with it at all in terms of functionality.  The watch strap is nice and comfortable and fits any size of wrist and the chest strap is soft and can adjust to any size.

The watch functions are pretty basic, but really are all that is needed.  The plan is to upgrade to one at some point which has inbuilt Spotify capabilities so that i don't have to take my ipod with me.  My phone is pretty basic and clunky so that stays at home when I run.  I'm lucky to live in the countryside in Germany, where everyone knows everyone and I really don't need my phone when I'm out jiggling my bits.

So, what can this baby do? 

A little something on the functions:

  • GPS:  The GPS on the watch works really well.  Out in the countryside where everything is very open, it's of course never a problem.  But even when I lived in the city, it never had any issues either.  It has always found a GPS signal very quickly and easily, even inside my house/apartment and was always pretty accurate, despite the surrounding buildings. 

  • Workouts: This is where you can go on to Garmin Connect, which is the Browser login

where all your data is stored and shown, and put together a workout of your own.  You basically just select what type it is, i.e. warm-up, run, walk, cool-down etc, the duration or pace and then sync it to the watch as a complete workout.  On the watch, you just go to My Workouts and select the one you want.

You can also download your training calendar to the watch if you've set one up on the browser.

There's also an interval function on the watch, where you can edit an Interval Workout actually on the watch itself, either with distance or time.  To be honest, it's easier to do it on the browser, but if you can get the hang of it, it could be handy.  It also includes warmup and cool-down times too.

You can check your training history on the watch, which is OK, but there's really not much point to it.  The only time I personally wouldn't have at least the app to check, would be when I'm running, which I wouldn't spend trying to look at my watch when really all I'm doing is trying not to fall over because I'm pushing myself harder than someone of my age and weight should.

It also has your 'records', like fastest 5k or longest run, which again is a bit pointless as it's easier to view on the app or the browser. 

The watch has a cradle that USB connects to the computer and the Garmin Connect app (I use a Mac, so not sure on how it connects with Windows) and it syncs through that. (I also have Linux on my laptop and for that you have to faff around with exporting data out of the watch and importing it onto the browser.  Fine if you know what you're doing, but fiddly and frustrating if you don't)

There are several preset programs you can also choose from that Garmin have put together, but to be honest I didn't really like them.  Thinks like 10k programs, half marathon, marathon etc.  A mate of mine has tried them too and he also didn't get on with them.  We both found they got harder too quickly, even on the beginner programs.

The other basic functions are colour, (which doesn't make much of a different to be honest), auto pause, vibrate and alarm.  I won't go into too much detail because they're pretty simple to get to grips with, aren't really that important, and don't really need explaining.

  • Bluetooth:  this function is for syncing your workouts with the Garmin app on your phone.  I've occasionally had a bit of trouble getting the watch to connect.  If it does decide it's not going to play ball, I usually have to remove it from the app and then reconnect it.  Unfortunately, that seems to tell Garmin that I've got a new watch and the website congratulates me on buying a new watch, which is a bit daft.  But that shouldn't be a deterrent.

When the watch is connected, you can sync your workouts to the app (it's just the same as syncing to Garmin Connect on the computer) and looks at the stats of what you did.  I've only really ever used that when I don't have my mac with me and if I'm feeling like sharing what I've done on my Instagram feed.  I'm not into live sharing my location and stuff like that, but I you are, it does that too.

The battery life is also pretty good.  The Bluetooth tends to drain it quicker so as long as that is off, it lasts for ages.  Unused for workouts, the battery life is over a month. So if you want to just use it as a watch, it's pretty good for that.  If I'm using it for daily workouts, I get a good 7 to 10 days out of it. (Based on using it for about an hour a day)  I've noticed after 5 years of use the battery is not quite as good as it was, but hey, 5 years is a pretty good run (pardon the pun, and the poem) for a rechargeable battery.  The chest strap is also still on the same battery as when I bought it.  I guess the more functions it has, the more draining it is, so basic is good for battery life.

This isn't an in depth analysis of the watch because you have a brain so i don't need to explain to you how to set an alarm or how to pair a Bluetooth device. So that being said, here is my conclusion:

Would I recommend this watch? 

Yes, most definitely.  It's basic, but it works. Bottom line is, if you want to track your workout accurately, this watch and heart rate monitor are just the thing.

Would I buy it again?

Again, yes, I would.  Less bells and whistles means it's of course cheaper so when your budget is tighter than you'd like, this is a good option.  And 5 years worth of use out of it, is nothing to kick it out of bed for eating cookies for.

I'm not a style guru, to which anyone who knows me can attest, so I frankly don't really care what it looks like, so that being said, it's not all that dainty.  However, neither am I so we get on just fine.

Most people have their brands they stick to.  You're either an Apple or an Android, a Garmin or Polar etc, and I'd have to say I'm a Garmin girl.  I've used their GPS Navi systems before and also found them to be good. 

Garmin, if you'd like to give me an all bells and whistles watch to try out, I would by no means be against that at all.

Next weeks post is going to be sticking to the theme of fitness and I'll be reviewing the Online Company I use for my at home Workouts.  I've been on a little lazy hiatus from them of late, but have got back into it this week.  The fact I can't hold my coffee cup right now, is the result of the killer workout I did yesterday. So by next week I'll have refreshed my memory and views on them and will review everything I love (and don't love) about them. 

Garmin Forerunner 220 (Black/Red) with 2 Year Extended Warranty - click here and buy me :)


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