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Activity Monitors/Recorders
Old 01-06-2014, 11:23 PM   #1
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Activity Monitors/Recorders

For years I have carried or worn a pedometer, most recently an Omron. It has seemed to work well, and the main thing I wanted from it was a step counter. It missed a some steps- when I was dancing a lot, it didn't record those steps. I guess they are too smooth, or rapid, or small and shuffling. Now it not recording very well at all. It may be because I am using crutches, maybe it doesn't record the crutch plant and the very light step with my left leg, not sure. I should be off the crutches in 6 weeks or so. It will depend on how long I need them in rehab. Anyway, I world like to be able to monitor now, as well as later

Still I know that there have been big changes in activity monitors over the last few years, and I wonder if members could tell me some of their experiences and observations and judgments about various ones. I am not too concerned about internet communication, etc, as I will likely just keep a daily tally of some sort in excel, as I have done for a long time.

I do not even know what the different types and design available are. What do you like, what not so much?

Ha
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:49 PM   #2
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I use a Fitbit flex and think it would be perfect for what you want.
I've had it a while, and there is now a fancier one out there, but honestly this is so easy. It synchs with your computer and or smart phone too.
Holler if you want met details, or if you want to compete with me on # of steps. Even on crutches, I bet you have more than me!
Hope you are healing well!
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:05 AM   #3
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I gave my husband a Fitbit for Christmas. It's easy to use and he likes it.
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:12 AM   #4
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haha-

I am also using a Fitbit Flex. I received it as a Christmas gift. Although it isn't something that I wanted, I have found it to be quite interesting and annoyingly addictive. It seems to track my steps well. I have noticed that even though you wear it on your wrist like a bracelet, it seems to track all of my steps without tracking all of the miscellaneous movement that I make throughout the day.

The Flex also synches to your computer easily and it is simple and efficient to view your activity through the webpage (www.fitbit.com). In addition, the webpage (which is free) allows you to set goals and tracks steps, distance, calories, and will also track a bunch of other statistics if you want to enter them. You can pay for more advanced services. Overall, it is easy to use and visually pleasing.

I would recommend a Fitbit Flex. I have only had it for a week, but it works very well.

Let me know if you have any more questions and I will attempt to answer them.

Jeremy
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:14 AM   #5
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I used a Fitbit for a while and it worked fine. But sometimes I would forget it a home. So now I use an app on my smartphone to monitor and record my activity. The phone is always on me and the app runs continuously, in the background.
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Old 01-07-2014, 12:19 AM   #6
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I have a Fitbit Force and previously had a Fitbit One. DH has a Fitbit Flex.

They all have their advantages/disadvantages. I chose the Fitbit over competitors because my research indicated that it was the most accurate, it has a large group of users and I liked how they show their data. Also the Fitbit is a set price with an option for more data under a premium plan. I went for the premium plan (I think it was about $50 a year), while DH didn't.

Anyway thoughts on the different ones I've had and on DH's Flex:

1. The One is very nice. I kept it in my pocket. Some people clip it on their belt. I don't wear a belt and I would be afraid of losing it so I kept it in my pocket. It can measure both your motion back and forth and will measure flights of stairs. So when I walk outside in our neighborhood which is hilly it will tell me how many flights of stairs it is equivalent to. (Note it doesn't recognize incline on a treadmill).

I liked the One because it had a nice display on it so when I was out walking I could click the button and see how many steps I had taken, how many calories I had burned, the time, my distance, my activity level and so on.

The main disadvantage with the one is the fact you carry it in the pocket. So I was always worried about losing it (I didn't, but it worried me). Also, I had to wear something with a pocket. Not all my clothes have pockets (probably less of an issue for a man than a woman). Also, I had to remember to transfer it to whatever clothes I was wearing. It was easy to forget it when I changed clothes.

Also, to monitor sleep (some people don't bother with this) I had to put the one in a large band and wear it around my arm. This never felt really comfortable although I did get fairly used to it. The band did sometimes come off during the night (it was attached by velcro only)

2. A couple of months after I got my One, DH got a Fitbit Flex when it came out. One advantage of it over the One is that it is more water resistant so he can wear it in the shower. The Flex is worn on the wrist.

It doesn't have the altitude function so can't count flights of stairs.

The nice thing about it is that is worn around the wrist so isn't tied to what your are wearing. You largely put it on and forget about it (unless going swimming).

One nice feature of it, is that you can order bands of different colors. DH has a black band and an orange band.

However, I was never tempted to get the Flex. The reason? It didn't have the display of the One. Basically it had a few lights to tell you how close you are to your step goal, but nothing to tell you exactly how many steps you've walked or calories you've burned or the time. DH would have preferred the display but he was sort of OK with just checking on his computer when he would get home. But for me, the lack of a display was a dealbreaker.

3. About 6 months after the Flex came out, they came out with the Fitbit Force which I immediately ordered. It is sort of the marriage of the One and the Flex. You wear it on the wrist like the Flex. However, the Force is wider than the Flex and has room for a display. You press a button and see the time, steps, distance, calories burned, etc. Oh - both the Flex and Force can be programmed to act as an alarm in the morning (I don't use it for that but it can be done - have to program it on the computer).

Also, the Force does do altitude so it counts flights of stairs.

I really like the Force and do prefer it to the One. Having the display is very important to me. Also the Force will sync with my iphone automatically when in close proximity (it only automatically syncs with a very small number of Android phones). It is coming out with a software update where it will vibrate and show the phone number of someone calling you on your iphone ...basically it will act like caller ID (this is optional to use it this way ...it isn't required). Since I have an iPhone I like this. Obviously not a feature if you don't have an iPhone.

It only comes in 2 colors - black and slate - and bands aren't interchangeable. I have the black. I will say that for a woman it might look a little odd to wear this while wearing a formal evening gown. I don't ever do that, though, so it isn't an issue for me.

Because it is worn on the wrist, it doesn't count steps if you hold your wrist still pushing a shopping cart. (This is true for the Flex as well). DH and I have gotten good at pushing the cart one-handed so our steps get counted.

It can't be worn in the shower like the Flex.

Note that for all the accelerometers, they don't do really well counting no step based activity. When I use, for example, my Concept 2 I need to go online and "name" that activity for the Fitbit to know what it is (this is easy to do). Also, if I do weight lifting it will show more calories burned if I go in and name the activity. This isn't specific to Fitbit ... all devices like this are similar.
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Old 01-07-2014, 01:02 AM   #7
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I have been wearing a Fitbit One every day for a year. It counts the steps, and when you walk near your computer it automatically uploads them wirelessly to your account on their website, where it stores your step count data - - so if you forget to check your step count in the evening, you can check even a few days later if you want. I like this feature even though I keep my tally in Excel as you do. You can set goals on the website, interact with other Fitbit users (which I really have not done), compete with real life friends who have Fitbits (which I don't do either), and so on.

I like it. I had no trouble forgetting it or putting it in the wash, because once you decide where to attach it, if you are wearing it every single day then it becomes a habit.

It's quite a slick little device. It is better than a regular pedometer but it sure is expensive.
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Old 01-07-2014, 01:14 AM   #8
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Oh, another thing. Haha, I know you don't have to worry about weight. But, adding this for the benefit of others who might read it.

I record what I eat at My Fitness Pal. That program talks to Fitbit and tells it what I ate. I can then see on Fitbit what my calorie deficit is for the day. Also, I have a Withings scale that talks to My Fitness Pal which then talks to Fitbit and tells it my weight and body fat (Fitbit also has a scale that will do this).
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:29 AM   #9
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I ordered DW a fitbit force for her birthday next week. A number of her friends are addicted to Fitbit and DW was interested. I may try hers. She also uses mapmyride on an iPhone mounted on her handlebars to track her bikerides and likes that.

I did use a heart rate monitor at the gym and biking for for a while. I ultimately concluded that I wasn't really training (I have a routine I apply and am not looking for constant gains) so the monitor wasn't really providing value. I use a Garmin GPS on the bike but I simply keep track of speed and distance on individual trips and don't keep close track of monthly or annual accomplishments.
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Old 01-07-2014, 08:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haha View Post
It may be because I am using crutches, maybe it doesn't record the crutch plant and the very light step with my left leg, not sure.
I don't have a pedometer, other than a cheap free one that I got (I think) in a cereal box, or a cereal mail-in coupon. Don't these clip to your wasteband or belt? If so, I suspect that maybe using crutches reduces the waist movement to the point where the device doesn't pick it up.
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Old 01-07-2014, 09:38 AM   #11
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My best activity monitor is DOMS that comes on 1-2 days after a workout
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:07 AM   #12
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I think you will have trouble expecting any device to count steps/activity while on crutches or dancing.

DW has one, and I've played with it enough (really just the geek in me trying to figure out how it works, and what algorithms they might be using) to realize they are trying to walk (no pun intended) a fine line between not calling out a little movement as a 'step' but still calling out an actual step as a step. There is no clear dividing line.

For example, I noticed that when you start walking the counter does nothing. But when you hit the 5th step, the counter updates to 5 and starts counting from there. So if you took 4 steps and stopped, it is going to ignore that as just some random motion, not 'real walking'.

I just don't think you can expect much from crutches or from dancing. I think you'll just need to manually track your activity day to day.

-ERD50
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:20 AM   #13
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Another vote for Fitbit. I have the Fitbit One and love it.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:22 AM   #14
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Once someone gave me an activity monitor. Tried it, found it useless.

Here is why: It recorded nothing while kayaking for hours, recorded nothing while figure skating, got destroyed landing on it after being thrown in Ju-jutsu.

Conclusion: best activity monitor is my brain, feeling of well being, sweat pouring off me, the drenched Gi or T shirt, or the applause or compliments I get while figure skating. Followed closely by sore muscles after kayaking or the other aforementioned activites.
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Old 01-07-2014, 01:14 PM   #15
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For normal activity or just to watch how many miles I've walked etc I use(d) an Omron.

For work outs I have a Polar FT 1 heart rate monitor. As a guy it took a little bit to get used to wearing a bra strap lol but the info it provides is indispensable (provided you know how to make use of it).
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Old 01-07-2014, 01:52 PM   #16
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I think a Force or Flex would be more likely to record walking on crutches than the One would since it is worn on the wrist, but it might be worth asking on the community forum since I'm sure someone has experienced this.

It is true that activity monitors don't totally measure non-step based activities. That said, you can go in and "name" the activity and then it does record it. So, when I use my rower or I do strength training, I tell the Fitbit that I did those things for X amount of time and it does record it. I do a lot of step based activities so this gets me the best overall record. If I did no step-based activity at all then the Fitbit wouldn't be helpful to me.
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:18 PM   #17
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I think a Force or Flex would be more likely to record walking on crutches than the One would since it is worn on the wrist, but it might be worth asking on the community forum since I'm sure someone has experienced this.

It is true that activity monitors don't totally measure non-step based activities. That said, you can go in and "name" the activity and then it does record it. So, when I use my rower or I do strength training, I tell the Fitbit that I did those things for X amount of time and it does record it. I do a lot of step based activities so this gets me the best overall record. If I did no step-based activity at all then the Fitbit wouldn't be helpful to me.
That's a good point. I just wanted to add that it does seem to think that riding a stationary bike or elliptical trainer are step based activities. I really rack up the steps when I get on that stationary bike.
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:58 PM   #18
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That's a good point. I just wanted to add that it does seem to think that riding a stationary bike or elliptical trainer are step based activities. I really rack up the steps when I get on that stationary bike.
That is because of foot movement downward. It doesn't measure much on my rower though.
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Old 01-07-2014, 05:13 PM   #19
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I've never heard of a fitbit and know nothing about activity monitors except for what I "invented" while riding my bike....

I could ride the same distance at different rates, so when I looked up how much exercise I was getting, it was very subjective (what is "moderate"?).

Why not just count the number of heartbeats? It would work no matter what exercise you were getting. You'd just calibrate it on a day when you completely vegged-out (to subtract out your base rate).

Sorry if this is a "dumb idea", but I've really not been much into exercise for exercise's sake my whole life; mostly I just did/do stuff I find fun (ride bikes, climb, sailboard, surf, etc). Of course, there maybe practical considerations to counting heartbeats in the water?
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Old 01-07-2014, 08:10 PM   #20
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Why not just count the number of heartbeats? It would work no matter what exercise you were getting. You'd just calibrate it on a day when you completely vegged-out (to subtract out your base rate).
For me - as someone who tends to be sedentary if I don't work at it - the Fitbit does a number of things.

First, it tells me how many calories I'm burning all day from my basic metabolism (it uses a formula to calculate it) to what I do in just my daily life. It also measures my steps that I walk each day just in daily life.

The more recent studies have supported the idea that it isn't enough to exercise 30 minutes or an hour a day if you are sedentary the rest of the day. That is, sitting a lot (like most of us with office jobs or many of the retired) isn't good for you even if you exercise formally every day.

With the Fitbit I can see real clearly how I'm doing. It is a real kick in the pants to me if I see that I haven't burned many calories during the day or haven't walked a lot of steps. And, the fact I spent 30 minutes on the rower or the treadmill doesn't make up for that.

The Fitbit also tells me pretty clear what activities are really helping me. For example, when we walk in the neighborhood it is clear that I burn more calories when we walk up and down the hilly areas.

Yes, some people are naturally very active and don't get much from this. But, I'm not one of them. I am capable of sitting in front of a computer almost all day. But the Fitbit lets me know in no uncertain terms at the end of the day that I made a bad decision when I did that.

Measuring heart rate during exercise is fine - I have heart rate monitors that I use for that purpose - but it isn't a substitute for what I get from the Fitbit.
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