One step forward, two steps back.

Topic on the radio this lunchtime was Tracker Devices and keeping fit.
The experts were saying that these trackers are worn by a variety of people as part of their fitness routines, and yet it had come to light that different trackers provided different results for the same exercise.

An extremely fit journalist (even I could tell she was mega fit as she could talk whilst on a treadmill!) put a selection of the most popular trackers through their paces and the results were quite interesting.

I must point out that I’ve never used one of these gadgets, though I did have a step counter (free with Special K breakfast cereal) years ago, and that was a game and calorie burner in itself setting the damn thing up!
In order to calculate how far you walked, you had to measure your stride and take into account your height and weight. I walked ‘miles’ with the dog and the distance covered was far lower than we’d worked out in the car or with a computer programme and a local map.
Anyway, that was me, and a long time ago.

keep fitToday, the trackers being tested were Misfit, Garmin, Fitbit and Jawbone.
I have no idea what models, what they look like or on which part of the anatomy they were worn, but our journalist wore all of them at the same time and completed exercises as follows:
Curl press
Chest press.

All four gave different readings for the same exercise. As it was all measured in ‘steps’, there was a differential of up to 200 between them, so you have to ask yourself is it
One step forward and two steps back, or vice versa.

The expert admitted that the difference on such a short workout (about 15 minutes) was unexpected and added:
“These tracker devices are designed to help individuals achieve their personal targets”.

To me, this is just more proof that when it comes to weight loss/control and fitness, we are all individuals, everyone is different, and we don’t all fit the confines of a computerised tick list.
computer bashing 2Note:
It is still suggested we walk 10,000 steps a day (I’m already a counter as posts here and here give you an idea of how far I walk every day) so what they’re actually expecting us all to do is walk around four to five miles a day. That’s pretty daunting, but if you equate it to time, which for me is about 90 minutes, over the space of the day maybe it’s not so bad.


About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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12 Responses to One step forward, two steps back.

  1. colinandray says:

    I think the journalist missed a key point of a tracker, which is to motivate the wearer and encourage them to slowly increase their workout level. If a tracker is a few inches more/less when measuring my stride, it should not matter to me as long it is consistent – 1000 strides today, 1100 strides tomorrow etc. Common sense dictates that any measuring device is going to work on an average because our stride length will change when passing people, avoiding a dog, waiting to cross a road, going uphill and downhill etc. etc.
    We can therefore determine that a tracker will not measure accurately… so who really cares what mine reads compared to yours? An inexpensive tracker (I think) will be triggered by body movement, whereas an expensive one will use satellite positioning. The latter will be no more accurate because there always going to be “blind” spots.
    My personal preference is to drive around and measure, then I know what distance I have covered!

    • Quite. Hubby and I walk Maggie four to five times a day. We have our routes, and know how far they are from using maps of the area. We have our long mile plus routes (each way, when we’re all feeling fit) and our shorter routes which are more frequent so overall distance works out around the same.

      • colinandray says:

        Yes… we don’t have to depend on technology, in fact I would suggest that it is less stressful (= more fun) not having a distraction wrapped around my wrist! 🙂

      • Likewise. I enjoy our walks and find them relaxing. Sometimes, I’m surprised at how far I’ve actually gone!

      • colinandray says:

        I used to do a lot of running, and have run a few marathons, but the best training runs were always the ones that seemed to be shorter (even though they were a measured distance). I used to day-dream my way through them I think! 🙂

      • You have my respect. The only running I ever did was at school, and I’ve never taken it up in adult life. I am a walker though and provided I’m wearing comfy shoes (and my back or knee isn’t playing up) can walk for miles. Sadly Maggie isn’t up to such lengths these days, and I won’t push her.

  2. I got one of these (a Fitbit) for my birthday. I love it, but it really is more motivation than anything – this usually comes in the form of wanting to make sure I get more steps than Paul and my family members (healthy competition only – at least until one of them starts cheating). So, by motivation, it’s just motivation to beat the people I love.

    Mine seems rather accurate, at least as far as the distances I know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is off on other things, as Paul’s seems to tell him he burns hundreds more calories per day than me, yet I often walk thousands more steps than he does, and it’s not like he’s getting some other workout in over the course of the day.

    • I’ve never used one, so I don’t know how they work or calculate. From Colin’s comment and yours, I’m beginning to see about the motivation side. I think from a numbers point of view I was more interested in the variance than the reasons behind having one. I’m happy to stick to walking though as that is regular exercise for all of us.

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