A couple of weeks ago, I interrupted my alphabet blogs to talk about some new technology I was trying out. This is an update on that theme. Having worked with them for a couple of weeks, I have observations... as regulars to this blog KNEW I would!
My first "well, duh!" observation is that suddenly I am getting a whole lot more fitness minutes logged! The why should be apparent: I had quit counting my break walks from work, and only was tracking activity for "real" training. The fitbit flex records those, and tells Spark all about it!
My second is an observation of the results of the sleep tracking. Fitbit flex can be worn at night, and if you tap it just so, it puts it into sleep tracking mode. I knew I was having insomnia issues, that was no news. Having the tracker tell me how long it took to fall asleep, how many times I wakened in the night, how many times I was "restless"... valuable. It tells me when I've had a better night's sleep... and I can map it to how I feel and perform the next day. That's kind of a "duh", too... but having a measurement makes it possible to measure the effectiveness of efforts at improving the quality / quantity of my sleep. Sleep is important to health and fitness, too.
Before I move on from the fitbit flex, I have to mention that I tried wearing it in the pool. It survived, but I was paranoid about it being wet the whole time! And it did not record me as being active during that swim! Granted, I swim slow, but the fitbit flex does not track me as active during a swim, so what's the point of wearing it in the pool? Other than just not wanting to take it off and put it back on? Haven't worn it in the pool since.
My third observation is that to synch my Withings health mate scale takes an overt action on my part... I have to consciously synch it when I want it to update. I think that may be because I use a different e-mail address for the scale from what I use for SparkPeople.com. However, I find this to my advantage, only synching it about once a week. Spark recorded weight every day (remember, I'm one of those daily weigh-ers) might just be overkill.
Now, on to the NEW news... I was given the opportunity to get a new Spark Activity tracker in its BETA phase... don't know if we're supposed to blog about it yet, but nobody said not to!
I signed up, and got my tracker in the mail Friday when I got home from work. So far, it has tracked only one full day. I disconnected my fitbit flex effective Saturday morning so I wouldn't be DOUBLE tracking as I'm wearing both, doing a comparison study for myself.
First observation about the Spark activity tracker: it's very nicely integrated to the SparkPeople.com site.
Set up was easy. I tried doing more, because it came with an extra battery in the package and I (being me) figured it was the ONLY battery and that I needed to install it. So I fussed with the device, only to discover once I FINALLY got the battery door open... that it already HAD a battery... the one in the package is a spare! So I did something I didn't need to do.
But linking it to the Spark account: easy peasy.
In the full day I tracked (Saturday), I had an elliptical warm up to my weight training. It automatically tracked that as a walking/cycling workout. Woo-hoo. The weight training, it only logged as "light" based on the steps I took, but since I log strength training exercises independently, that's probably right. Then I went on an afternoon bike ride. The tracker identified this as "unspecified" workout, and let me choose from the Spark workout types.
This one, too, can't be worn in the pool... but based on a sample day? And knowing the difference in price point... I think the Spark activity tracker is going to be my go-to device for every day use and linking with Spark. It's too easy not to!
I will keep my flex, though, since I already invested in it. Especially for the sleep measurement. Over the next couple of weeks, I will observe the differences in "steps" they all record. For Saturday, here's what they showed:
My old school OMRON traditional pedometer - 11454 steps.
Fitbit Flex - 14291 steps.
Spark Activity Tracker - 16655 steps
As with scales whose results differ, different tools measure differently. The Spark Activity tracker I believe is adding credit for the strength exercises I entered manually! It definitely added my 41 minute swim from this morning when I manually tracked it. The OMRON has never tracked cycling terribly well. Both the flex and the Spark tracker do a better job with that.
If you're confused by all this and looking for a tool for you? Pick ONE, use it consistently... because it's REALLY about measuring trends and changes over time.
LIFE is good. Tools are fun. Spark on!