Tag Archives: exercise

What Your Activity Tracker is Really Doing

From ActivityTrackerComparison.Com

I have a Fitbit, and I love it.  It means that I take more steps, I’m outside my apartment more and I’m moving much much more.  I’ve come up with excuses to go for long walks and even on days where I’m just not in the mood to run, I find myself running to get my step count up.   The Fitbit has been a really good thing for me.

There are also tons of other devices out there, like the Jawbone and the Nike Fuel Band, and of course some I’ve never heard of before.  It seems like every person I meet now has some sort of activity tracker and is very vigilant about knowing their step count for the day.

I found this short article from the NYTimes really interesting.  Using graphs and gifs, they explain exactly what an activity tracker is up to when it’s measuring the distance you’e gone and the steps you’ve taken.

The one thing I will say about the Fitbit is that it encourages me to do only one type of activity: one that counts steps.  Fitbit can’t pick up on my yoga moves, my squats or even my biking (which is sort of disappointing since I just got my bike fixed).  All my Fitbit knows how to do is measure acceleration of the arm the Fitbit is on.

I’m excited to see where the technology takes this, but right now I’m happy enough with my Fitbit.  It has made me much more active than I used to be, and that’s what matters.

If you’re interested in learning more about activity trackers, not just my beloved Fitbit, you can visit this site.  It will compare all of the trackers for you and tell you which one best matches your lifestyle!

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Weekend Reading

What a week.  I am so happy that it’s the weekend.  I had the worst day yesterday (read: water bottle spilling all over everything in my backpack, having two exams, being late to the first exam even though I left way early (thanks MBTA)…) It just felt like anything that could go wrong was going to go wrong.  But I refused to let myself fall into a slump of feeling bad for myself (although, honestly, sometimes it’s not the worst idea) and ended the day on a high note by exploring more of Boston (hello, Newbury Street!) and spending sometime out in the sunshine.  It made me feel so much better and made me (almost) forget how crappy my morning had been.

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The Biggest Loser debate has been all over every blog and newspaper that I’ve read lately, and I can’t help but think that maybe it shouldn’t be.  I don’t think we have the right to judge someone who lost a lot of weight, just like I don’t think we have the right to judge someone who put on a lot of weight.  It’s taboo to call someone ‘fat’ but apparently it’s fine to call someone ‘too skinny.’  When do we stop judging each other for our appearances and start judging each other for what’s on the inside?

This study out of Harvard is a good reminder that good habits start early and that it’s important for public health interventions to focus on younger kids too if we really want to turn this obesity epidemic around.

Speaking of which, President Obama signed the Farm Bill into law this week.  There’s a lot of controversy around this bill because it heavily cuts SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps) and many families will be losing up to $95 a month that they had relied upon to feed their families.  It turns out though, both sides of the aisle are unhappy about the Farm Bill, which means they compromised.  Good for you Congress.

Flowing Data released maps from across the country showing where people run.  They run mostly by parks, water and in affluent areas.  Policy Mic took a moment to reflect on the greater social issues behind these maps: mainly that these maps of where people run are mostly maps of where the more affluent areas of cities are located.  If you’re running outside, it’s because you feel safe enough running outside, or because you have the time to run outside, luxuries that people living in high-crime, low-income areas rarely have.

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Shivering For Exercise

The New York Times had a really interesting article this week titled, “Shivering as Form of Exercise.”  Apparently, researchers found that shivering can have similar impacts as moderate exercise can on altering fat muscles and increasing metabolism.  The study mentioned in the article found that after similar time periods of shivering and of exercising, similar levels of irisin were found in study participants.  

Irisin is a hormone that helps to convert bad fat into brown fat.  Brown fat, if you’ve never heard of it, is found mostly in babies and helps to generate heat.  A higher percentage of brown fat to regular fat is ideal, but not common in most adults.  Scientists actually used to think that adults did not have brown fat, but recent studies have suggested otherwise.  In fact, studies have shown that adults who produce higher levels of irisin, tend to have higher levels of brown fat than in their counterparts.

For a period, scientists thought that irisin was best produced during exercise where the contracting muscles help to stimulate the production of the hormone.  This new study shows, however, that irisin can be produced while you’re freezing, which is convenient, since we seem to be getting a polar vortex every day.

Shivering should not replace cardiovascular exercise and should be considered with caution.  Waiting outside in the cold for the bus or the train is probably enough.  You probably shouldn’t force yourself to freeze just to produce more lisin, but as always, I’m not a doctor, so if you’re looking to make more lisin by shivering, you should probably have a chat with a licensed physician.

So, any thoughts on this article?  Are you going to add “shivering” into your exercise routine?

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FitBit Flex

I got my Fit Bit Flex finally!!  Everyone I know (boyfriend and best friend included) have a step tracker of some sort.  My boyfriend has the FitBit Flex, my best friend has the Nike Fuel Band and other people had the JawBone.  When I learned that the Fit Bit Flex was the only one that could sync with my phone (Droid), it made the decision on which one to get that much easier.

The FitBit Flex tracks my steps, gives me an estimate of how many calories I’ve burned in a day, and will track my sleep for me, letting me know how much time I actually spent asleep.  I had some hiccups the first day (accidentally set my step goal to 130,000 instead of 13,000 and couldn’t figure out why, after running 3 miles, I’d still only completed 1% of my goal), but I am in love with it.  It challenges me to move more, and I love competing with my boyfriend to see which of us gets to our goal faster.

I will say, the FitBit sort of makes me look like a crazy person.  I’ll get up every hour to jog in-place at my desk for a little bit to make my numbers go up, and now during lunch, even when its a billion degrees out, I’m outside walking around, trying to get my step count to go up.

Does anyone else have a FitBit?  What are your experiences with it? Do you love yours as much as I love mine?  What are your tips for getting your step count up? 

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