What is an Activity Monitor?

You may have heard a bit about them, or seen the local gym fashionisa sporting one and wondered what it was, and now activity monitors are becoming the latest “must have” piece of fitness wear; so here is your quick guide to what you need to know:

  • They are generally a cool, sleek looking band that’s designed specifically to be worn on the wrist.
  • They are designed to be worn all day, everyday, literally 24 hours a day!
  • The best ones monitor everything you do, including your sleep patterns and your exercise.
  • They can set personal targets for the amount of activity that you should be doing each day to stay healthy or achieve your fitness goals.
  • Some people refer to them as “Fitness Trackers”, but activity monitor is a more accurate description of their function.

Why Would I Need An Activity Monitor?

It could quite legitimately be argued that you don’t need an activity monitor, seeing as we’ve survived so far without them! However, like most new technology, it’s more a case of how they can help you and improve your lifestyle; not to mention they are definitely a cool new gadget! So why not get one now, and be a pioneer of this new movement, rather than following the crowd in a year’s time?

The key benefit of an activity monitor is its unique ability to measure so much about how you move during the day , but don’t be fooled into thinking they are merely a glorified pedometer, this really wouldn’t be fair if you consider the amount of research and development that has gone into creating these devices and the level of accuracy they provide. If you take the Polar Loop, for example, this monitor contains a skin temperature sensor as well as an accelerometer and gyro sensor, with these sensors and the incredible firmware they have teamed them with, the Polar Loop can tell the difference between you sitting still, standing still and laying down!Animated Polar Gif Speaking to a recent demonstrator of the product, she thought she could trick it by moving her wrist quickly to simulate running and get out of the final 10 minutes of exercise it was suggesting…no chance! The number of steps the device had counted before she started her frantic wrist movement (that any teenage boy would be proud of!) had not changed; although funnily enough this frantic movement had contributed somewhat to her total daily movement target; as it had inevitably burnt some calories.

Another impressive feature of some of these activity monitors is the apps they work with, the Polar Loop has it’s own dedicated app called Polar Flow; which not only lets you see all the cool data the fitness tracker has collected on you, but also you can use this app to upload your training data, see what other users are doing (Depending on their privacy settings), or re-live your training sessions through Google Maps!

Another fantastic activity monitor on the market is the Soleus Go, which is very similar to the Polar Loop, except this fitness tracker boasts an Organic LED (OLED) display and also offers to display your text messages and the weather information from your phone on the display, to save you taking your phone out of your pocket!

The Soleus Go also has its own dedicated iPhone app and will break down all of the finer details of your daily activity; however one other advantageous feature is a vibrational unit that can gently wake you up in a very subtle way, by working with your sleep pattern to coax you out of sleep at the right time!Soleus Go Activity Monitor

If you would like a more detailed picture of your exercise data, then using the Polar loop coupled with a Polar heart rate chest strap is definitely the best overall set-up. Both devices use low power Bluetooth to communicate with your phone which also allows for software updates to be seamlessly transmitted without any input needed from the user.

Here is a brief list of some of the extra features found in these activity monitors that will be useful:

  • Calorie counters
  • Step counter
  • Distance travelled
  • Watch features, such as time, data and alarms.

So in summary,

if you want to realise how active or inactive you really are during the day, and how much you should be moving to avoid a sedentary lifestyle, then an activity monitor is ideal for you. If you have been told to lose weight as part of a health program or just for your own reasons then they are ideal. They will definitely make you think about taking the stairs rather than using the lift, or if you’re having second thoughts about going for a run, and you haven’t done much that day; they will make you think twice about being lazy! A bit like having a friendly personal trainer on your wrist, but one that you can sleep with and your other half won’t mind!

 

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Ryan has worked in the sports industry since 1999 and has a wealth of experience across most subjects. Ryan holds a BSc in microbiology and has studied sports physiology in great detail in his own time. His main areas of specialisation are: footwear construction, footwear technology, strength & conditioning and anatomy & physiology. He splits his 13 hours a week exercise between, Kickboxing, MMA, Crossfit, Rock Climbing and Running.