Thursday, January 15, 2015

Activity Tracking Update

I've been using my Polar Loop to track my activity data for 3 weeks now, and apart from the questions I have about the overall accuracy of the data, it's been interesting to say the least. Interesting of course for someone who likes these sorts of things, overwhelming tedious and boring if you don't! I get that.

Since I last posted anything about the Loop I've added using a heart rate monitor. This can be paired (it's Bluetooth) with either the Loop or with an app on my phone. I've only done the latter so far, but will have a go with the Loop at some point.

The app in question is Polar Beat. I can use both Runkeeper and Beat at the same time, and I could, as far as I know, link my heart rate monitor to Runkeeper. The dilemma is that Beat is obviously integrated with Flow, the web based service from Polar, whereas Runkeeper isn't. On the other hand, if I want to set challenges in Runkeeper, I have to use it's tracking facility because it doesn't record manually entered activity against any challenge. It's also a case that as yet I don't seem to be able to get Beat to post activities to either Facebook or Twitter so that impressed and admiring friends can feel guilty about the exercise they're not getting!!

So, apart from the issue of where I store all the boring stats about how far I've walked, run, jogged or moved on a tennis court, I've discovered the fairly obvious fact that when I play tennis it's easy to reach my daily goal and when I don't I have to do something else instead. What is helpful, and interesting to me at least, is to see what kind of exercise I'm doing. I know about heart rate zones and progressive overloading etc from my PT studies, but having a simple graphic showing me that data is nice. I haven't had to sit down and create a spreadsheet to do it for me, it's just all done on the website.

So far I've managed to exceed my daily activity goal everyday. Some days by small margins, others by quite some distance. Last Friday, for example, I managed 300% of my daily goal. Now, because the Polar Loop is a simple device, I'm not exactly sure what constitutes my daily goal, although I can hazard a guess from the "to go" information and what I personally have to do to reach it. According to Polar the level 3 goal (that's the highest one) is about 1.5 hours of high intensity exercise.

Beyond all this information and data, the big question has to be, "Does it keep me motivated?" I think the answer is yes. By monitoring my activity I do tend to check it and make sure I reach my goal rather than assuming I've done enough on the basis of how I feel. But then again, as I've said before, a simple pedometer can do that for you. In the end it comes down to one simple thing: Whatever it takes for you to get out and get moving, it has to be worth it. I have my gadgets, you'll find your motivators if you really want to.

Just in case you're interested, here's the summary from 29th December to today. Distance and steps are from actual steps and body movements made, which is why it overestimates steps.

No comments: