Saturday, March 19, 2011

move much?

Remember when I said how lucky I was a few weeks back? I had won a Polar Activity Monitor from Kara at Mama Sweat?

Well, it arrived a few weeks ago and I tried it out and thought I’d tell you all about it.

(Disclaimer: I won this activity monitor from the Mama Sweat blog…so it was free to me. All of the opinions are mine and are based on my experiences only)

IMG_0661 Picture taken Thursday evening…i obviously didn’t wear it at all on Thursday.

When I had found out I had one it, I immediately set out to learn more about it. I have to say, there isn’t much information on the website…but I did gather that this particular monitor was really designed for kids and teachers. For the teacher to use with the students to help educate them on their movement each day. That being said, I found it educational for me at almost 40 years old too.

As soon as I opened the box, I searched it for instructions. Yes, I’m a rule follower and had to know HOW to use it. Well, guess what? No instructions. So start pushing buttons and go with it. It was SUPER EASY to set up. In just under a minute it was on my wrist and ready to read my movements. It was about noon on a Monday so I set about my day. As I moved I noticed the little stick figure would get up and walk. If I moved faster it would move faster. It was super easy to see. The bar on the bottom would move, too, as I added movement minutes. A super easy visual.

That night I went to spin class and attached it to my shoe. I had remembered that Kara said it didn’t really measure movement during biking or other exercises where your arms weren’t participating.

Final count for a half day plus an hour long spin class: 16, 029 steps and 1707 calories. 1 hour, 34 minutes of moderate to vigorous+ activity. Not bad.

I wore the monitor all week and this is what I saw:

Tuesday: 2 hours, 23 minutes of moderate to vigorous+ activity; 23, 198 steps; 2713 calories. This was a day that I ran 5 miles and did a 50 minute strength training class. That class barely registered on the step/calorie count. It’s a class where you do 5 minute intervals of plyometric type activity with 5 minutes of strength training. So if my arm was resting or whatever, it wasn’t logging. As Kara says, you have to smarter than the monitor. But that still bugged me.

Wednesday: 1 hour, 26 minutes; 18,671 steps; 2554 calories with a 1 hour spin class. Hello? I wore it all day and had barely better numbers in less minutes of activity. Huh?

Thursday: 1:37; 16, 864; 2378…I ran 4.5 miles this day.

Friday: 1:08; 15,488; 2428 REST day.

Saturday: 1:55; 18,435; 2401 I ran 7 miles. Can someone explain why I burned more calories on my rest day?

Sunday: 1:59; 23271; 2756. Stationary bike for 45 minutes.

And the second week my numbers were similar. I did attach the monitor to my shoe for my runs and it up’d my numbers on run days. But overall…I’m a bit confused.

I will say that also records Easy and Very Easy movement…but it doesn’t count that in your totals for the day. So those calorie numbers are over and above what you just burn by being alive. It also has a goal for 1 hour of activity a day. Is that for a student or for me? I easily met that…even on a rest day. But I also don’t work at a desk all day.

So…overall it was a good tool to give me an idea of how active I am during the day. But after two weeks of wearing it, I have a good idea and I don’t really need to wear it each day. I had been curious about my activity level and obviously I’m doing fine.


  • Easy to use. Way easy. I’m going to put it on my 6 year old next week. It’s going to be easy for him to use too.
  • Easy visual to see where my activity level is for the day. I liked making sure that my guy wasn’t sitting down too often.
  • Loved seeing my total steps for the day jump over 10,000. That seems to be a goal that people put out there.
  • Fun. It was a fun color so it caught people’s attention and I had conversations about activity with them. It was fun to see the guy move. I loved when it beeped at me at 10 a.m. telling me I had hit my goal of 1 hour of activity.


  • Lack of detailed information. It looks like there may be more information available if I purchased a $50 tool to connect it to my computer and the Polar website. But I’m still unclear as to how much information it actually gives me.
  • I didn’t like that I couldn’t break out the calories burned for a new activity. I would love something like a lap button on my Garmin…something that had a start and stop button so I could measure a particular class or activity.
  • It bugged me that I had to put it on my shoe for activities. I’m not sure how else you would do it…but it still bugged me.
  • I would have liked to have a heart rate monitor factored in to get a more accurate reading for my activity.


Overall, I think the monitor is okay. I’m curious as to the conversations it will elicit with my 6 year old next week. But for me, I’m a pretty active person. After two weeks of wearing it, I don’t see the point of continuing to wear it. However, if I was in a period of not being as active. Or maybe if I worked outside of the home, sitting at a desk….I could really see the benefit of a visual monitor reminding me to get some movement in. For now, I have a pretty active workout schedule so I know I’m getting my movement it.

I loved this little experiment. I had been wanting some sort of activity monitor to give me a better idea of my calories burned vs. consumed. I’m not sure I have a clear picture of that still…but I definitely have more of an idea. And honestly, based on those numbers…I’m not eating nearly enough food!

I’ll be sure check back in with the 6 year old report in a few weeks.

How do you monitor your activity for a healthy life?


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