Thursday, May 1, 2014

A word about fitness devices

Summer is not anywhere near, but it cannot be too far off. Last year, I started with the fitbit flex as my ‘summer’ fitness tracker instead of the BodyMedia armband. The BM armband is quite big and clunky, and the fitbit less obvious (also with fewer tan lines). By the fall I signed up with Bodymedia again, and used it during the winter months; I liked the higher accuracy and the fact it told me how many hours I really slept the night before. I never could get the ‘sleep’ feature to work on the fitbit; you need to tap it before you fall asleep, but alas if you drift into sleep it is likely to miss ‘tapping’.

A few months ago BodyMedia was bought by Jawbone. Shortly after, they changed their algorithms of how to interpret the signals read from the device as ‘the burnt calories’. It came without announcement and explanation out of the blue. Customers protested since they knew they didn’t do anything that warranted a sudden burn of an extra 400kcal. Comments were ignored. Nothing changed. After a few weeks there was an official announcement that ‘the readings were now more accurate’ and the higher ‘readout’ was here to stay. I still feel it is a barely disguised ploy to inflate the numbers to give customers a motivating satisfaction of thinking they burnt plenty of calories when they did not really. Ethical? I think not.

But it is all just a number, and one needs to figure out in which range it is good to stay.

As said, with summer coming up I have started to use both devices again. This time around, I feel the fitbit flex is much more accurate of interpreting the signals as my activities. For example, on Monday I did plenty of light housework, and in the evening a brisk walk on the treadmill for 25min at 9pm. On the graph of the BM, the brisk walk shows up barely as a blip that compared to the housework. The fitbit shows the difference between light activity and an actually workout much clearer.



I might be wrong. Maybe, all we need to do to stay fit is plenty of housework and no need for the gym.

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