Monday, November 9, 2015

What Does It Mean to You?

The other day I had someone ask me about which fitness tracker I recommend, because they were looking to add a little something extra into their training. I told them that a Bluetooth heart rate strap (I personally like the Polar H7) and a basic app on their phone to measure and record heart rate was probably adequate. They seemed disappointed by this; I think they were hoping for something a little more... expansive.

"But why something so basic? What about a Garmin, with GPS - or better yet, what about the Fitbit? I hear it measures daily steps, can track your sleep, and measures heart rate as well?"

"Great," I said, "but what are you going to do with that information?"

And ultimately, that's what I see as the problem with the numerous apps, watches, fitness monitors and other gadgets available to people. They give a lot of information to the individual that winds up being meaningless. Your maximum heart rate during a session was 162bpm - what does that tell you? You slept 7.37hrs last night, with 2.5 cycles - and this means...? You took 10,000 steps today? Burned 367 calories during that run? Compiling endless amounts of information is only valuable if you are going to analyze and use what is collected.

Data without context is nothing more than numbers. Personally, I love collecting as much information as I can - but that's because I enjoy the process of breaking it down and interpreting it. For most people, though, the endless score of details that you're given on your health, while mildly interesting to begin with, quickly becomes little more than static before finally being forgotten.

So when you're trying to decide what type of fitness tracker/monitor/app you would like, try to narrow it down before you spend the money. Find something that gives you feedback which is of value to you, that you can (and WILL) apply to your training. You may find that you don't need to spend the big bucks on an elaborate piece of hardware after all.


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