Gentler Streak – A new focus on Wellbeing

By this point, those of you that use Gentler Streak probably know about the most recent additions to the app – and I’d say they’re big ones. With the recent additions, the app now takes a much more holistic view of fitness and exercise guidance. I’ll explain how.

The Gentler Streak app now features a section called “Wellbeing”. The new section displays several health metrics that, as the name implies, reflects more of your general wellbeing. The new metrics include:

  • Sleeping Heart Rate
  • Sleep Duration
  • Wrist Temperature (Series 8 or Ultra required)
  • Heart Rate Variability
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Oxygen Saturation

The app only uses data from your sleep for these metrics, based on the fact that it’s believed to be the most accurate and consist time to take the measurements.

The metrics are shown in trends over a 10 day period – not simply as isolated snapshots – providing you with context behind the numbers. This is important because context is truly what gives the numbers meaning. It’s not today’s measurement that really matters. It’s more how today’s number compares with your baseline average. Of important note, for this reason, it’s important to regularly wear your Apple Watch to sleep to establish a consistent baseline.

I’d love to understand how, or if, the different wellbeing metrics are weighted. Is it equal across the board or do some metrics count more than others? The reason I’d like to know is because the app now takes these wellbeing metrics and incorporates them into your daily exercise guidance, which is no longer solely based on your acute training load. At the top of the Wellbeing screen, a text message and visualize depict a summary of the metrics. Probably for the best, the app doesn’t get super detailed in this interpretation of the data or its advice.

Your summary from your Wellbeing metrics also impacts your activity guidance on the Home Screen. So, even if your acute training load is low, your guidance may still be to take it easy today if your Wellbeing metrics are out of their normal range.

Overall, I’m a big fan of the new additions, and I think they add a lot of value to the app. They address what was my biggest issue with the app – that a low acute training load does not always mean that you’re ready to push hard. It’s only one of the factors in the equation, so to speak.

In many ways, Gentler’s simple approach is a good idea because it removes from of the hocus-pocus from how many apps handle the concept of readiness/recovery and makes it easier to understand. It doesn’t appear to use any complicated algorithm. Should some metrics count more than others – yes. However, I expect when apps do this that they are very clear about which metrics weigh more, why, and what science it’s based on. It’s hard to do that if all the data is hidden behind proprietary algorithms.

Another note, I have A-Fib history turned on for my Apple Watch (not ideal) so that I have more Heart Rate Variability (HRV) data points. I still don’t think the Apple Watch, by default, takes enough readings to be useful here, and Apple needs to address that. Gentler commented on Twitter recently that they found away around this shortcoming, but I never heard any specifics as to how so.

My main suggestion for the developers would be to look for a way to display the impact of Wellbeing metrics with the Apple Watch complications. I’m thrilled that they’ve started to factor in Wellbeing, and it’s absolutely the right direction. However, complications are one of the biggest strengths and benefits of the Apple Watch (in my opinion), and so every great Apple Watch app should take advantage of them as much as possible.

With the new additions, Gentler Streak is easily one of the best apps on the AppStore today (which recent awards appear to validate), and it even comes at a reasonable price. I for one am excited to see where it goes from here! They’re on the right track and have made huge strides in a short time. Hopefully there’s even more to come.

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