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KimK

Fitness Wrist Trackers

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So I have always been intrigued by fitness trackers (i.e, Fitbit, Jawbone, Misfit) and I was wondering if anyone had one and there thoughts on it.  How it is when you are doing your yoga practice?  Do you have to where it all the time? Pros and cons?

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You might not be considering the apple watch, but Larry mentioned his here:

 

My husband has a fitbit charge, so I can comment on that.  Please note I have no idea what features the devices have, so I can't compare functionality. Also, unfortunately my husband doesn't do yoga, but, since we do other walking activities together, I can comment on some of the neat aspects that I get from association!

 

The FitBit charge is extremely useful for the heart rate component, and it tracks his sleep activity automatically (instead of having to activate it manually with the fitbit one). If you get the other fitbit versions without heart rate (e.g. fitbit one is very discreet as a clip), I don't think you'll be measuring much during your yoga practice since it mainly measures steps.

 

The other good part about measuring heart rate is that it can calculate how many calories you burn automatically. You can see it in the screenshot below under workout summary.  Note he is doing more cardio than yoga (basketball, and running back from lunch).

 

The altimeter is fun if you live in a place that is hilly - yesterday we walked across town and back - 81 floors, 18,000 steps!  If you don't wear it all the time, then you won't measure all your steps that day and might not hit your goal, but all it will show up is as a gap in time when you look at it online.  I suppose as long as you have a heart rate measurement, then you only need to wear it during workouts, but, it's pretty interesting to see how low your resting heart rate can go and track your sleep activity.

 

Also, consider which device you may have more friends on. My husband is in friendly competition with his friends - the ranking on the right hand column shows total steps for the past week.

 

Good luck in your search!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OK, I just got a Fitbit Charge HR last week (the one with the heart rate sensor) and today was the first time I wore it during a 1.5 hour yoga class.  It tracked barely any steps during class and didn't log my movement as exercise.  I turned on the exercise mode to more accurately track my heart rate, but my heart rate never even reached the "fat burning" zone, so FitBit did not log it as a workout.   

 

So, a fitness track is not going to do anything for yoga practice I think, unless you are doing a lot of vinyasa flow.  For a more hatha based class, like the one I took, I suspect all the ujayii breathing helps regulate the heart rate.  The highest my heart rate went was 71 bpm during sun salutations while my resting heart rate is 52 bpm. I was jogging to class because I was running late, and then speed walking back home to make some traffic lights, and you can see those spikes reach my cardio and fat burn zone, but yoga never came anywhere close.  So, it's good to wear all the time because walking is a lot healthier for you than you realize, but don't expect it to measure your yoga practice.

 

However, since the Fitbit is tracking heart rate, it can still estimate how many calories are burned, if that is important to you.  Check out the bottom "Activity History" and see how many calories I burned for 1.5 hour yoga session, and see the June 20th activity where I went for a 20 minute run.  Yoga is not just for body, it's also for the mind, and no technology can track that for you!

 

Overall, I love the FitBit so far for tracking my sleep, how many flights of stairs I walk (because of hills!), and tracking my runs because it reflected that I hit my peak heart rate when I started getting out of breath, and then went down to cardio rate when I eased up on my running pace.  But not for tracking my yoga practice!

 

 

 

 

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KimK and nfenchak like this

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Been using Apple Watch for two months. It is marginally beneficial as you stated, since tracking motion isn't important in yoga

As far as heart rate goes, it's a function of the practice, the watch does record the data (and some third party developers will be gaining access making charting effective), but you're really not going to go aerobic during savasana, so what use is the information (or lack. thereof)?

Only during certain poses will my heart rate elevate, but then again, I really don't expect it to

 

I wonder what the infatuation is with tracking, though. I have a friend who lost 80 pounds and does Soul Cycle three times a week and is upset that the watch doesn't give her great calorie information. I replied "what difference does it make? you're sweating buckets in class, you're getting in great shape, you're healthier...who cares whether your watch shows a particular number?"

I guess that's the point. If one does yoga (or any other exercise) consistently and with a similar intensity...does a gold star from the teacher really matter?

You're doing the exercise for you, not for your tracker, web site or blog...and you will know if you're making progress and that's the just rewards...IMHO

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Eh, I guess the tracking of steps is only fun for "healthy competition" if you have enough friends on the same system. For instance, yesterday I got messages that I just passed a friend by x number of steps, and later on, he passed me by y number of steps.  I also encouraged my father to recharge his fitbit and wear it because I'm now his friend, so it's more interesting to him to see both his and my progress over the week than it was when he was on the system by himself.

 

I think the main benefit of tracking is to help build routine or a healthy habit for those who can't keep it. Then you know when you're short of your normal routine, and will then be motivated to maintain it.  Otherwise, like Larry said, if you already doing it, you don't need to measure it to know you are making progress.

 

It's not meant for everyone, but, the building a healthy habit is one philosophy.  For me, I already know I'm not a routine person, so I am using this primarily for my sleep tracking and energy levels.

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I always wondered about the sleep tracking, okay, you wake up, rub your eyes and see the results of your sleep.

What do you do with that information? 

I know step challenges can motivate you, but what happens if you find out that you slept six hours and your friend slept six and a half...what do you do? 

nfenchak likes this

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Ha, good point!  It's more for individual self rather than compare with others.  I don't see other people's sleep quality, unless I click into his or her profile. Examples for self-tracking - correlation with mood or energy, or track habits with insomnia patterns. It's a bigger deal for me because I am trying to track if I am having side effects from medication. It's helpful to my husband because he sometimes works odd hours, so then he can see how much rest he caught up on with naps.

 

Also, it's not just sleep tracking in terms of duration but quality based on movement and heart rate.  When I have insomnia, it notes what time sleep happened, rather than when I "tried" to go to sleep. A typical sleep efficiency is around 90% efficiency, so I am in bed for 8 hours, but I only slept for 7 effectively.  

 

If you have no problems with sleep, tracking won't be beneficial at all!  Don't need to measure what's not broken. :)

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I really want the fitbit hr b/c I am such a geek w/ tech data. But I'm wondering if the sleep thing will make my anxiety/insomnia worse. like will I wake up in the middle of the night worried about my sleep after seeing how horribly I sleep?

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True, I got this so I didn't have to stress about trying to measure my sleep and let fitbit do it for me, but I can see how too much real-time analysis can be bad!  The good news is that you can't see the sleep data from your device, only from the computer or your phone app.

 

It takes like 5-10 minutes of being awake and walking around (but going to the bathroom and back to bed doesn't end the "sleep log") before the sleep data is synced to your phone. So it's not possible to check it in the middle of the night, unless you really get out of bed and move around more than just using the bathroom!

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Guess what! I completely thought the fitbit was useless for yoga.  But today in class, we got an extra long savasana for 10 minutes.  I checked later and saw that my bpm dropped to 40 bpm at the end of class. The sleep wasn't automatically detected, but once I manually added the class time as a sleep log, FitBit said it took me 1 minute to fall asleep and had 9 minutes of sleep.

 

So, just another measurement to know that I hit total relaxation at the end of class. I thought I had fallen asleep but wasn't sure.

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How does Fitbit know that that was sleep? Isn't it possible for an well trained athlete to achieve very low rates during a relaxing period (resting heart rate)? 

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The heart rates during sleep are lower than resting heart rate, so fitbit takes a few days to calibrate what the resting heart rate is for the wearer, and then will know what range it drops to during sleep.  Fitbit measures the resting heart rate when one first wakes up, so it may be lower than what one measures at the doctor's office.  It automatically logs sleep based on no / only sleep-related movement for an hour and heart rate sensor.

 

Since savasana was only 10 minutes, I had to manually add a sleep log for that time, and fitbit registered it as sleep by calibrating with my past sleeping heart rates (so it was also able to tell when I woke up).  If I tried to add another sleep log when I was just resting, it would not register me as asleep at all.

 

Resting heart rate hovers around 50 bpm for me. When I sleep, it can drop to low 40s. My husband's dropped to 38 while sleeping, and then, showed no data for the next few minutes because fitbit thought he was dead (threw out what it thought was bad data). Ah, when technology tries to act too smart!

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I have a fitbit charge HR and I really like it. I use it as my alarm in the mornings and it gives me a bit of a kick I need as an office worker to take more walks during breaks because I can see how dismally low my steps per day are when I don't leave the office (it is actually embarrassing!)

 

It doesn't seem to do that great for yoga classes but as others pointed out yoga can be anything from relaxation to a full on vinyasa class. I do a heated flow class but I think because there's lots of down-dog rests and so on your heartrate will never get as high as doing full on HIIT or a run as fast as you physically can.

 

As for the sleep it's really handy to know my resting heart rate but my goodness I hate seeing how many times I wake per night and how little sleep I get. I know I'm often tired because I simply don't have time for anywhere near enough sleep but actually seeing it on the screen is quite shocking. HOW MANY TIMES A NIGHT CAN ONE CAT WAKE AN ALREADY SLEEP DEPRIVED PERSON UP?!?!?! :lol:

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...HOW MANY TIMES A NIGHT CAN ONE CAT WAKE AN ALREADY SLEEP DEPRIVED PERSON UP?!?!?! :lol:

Many and when you become an old man you stop counting!  :lol:

Jasmine likes this

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...As for the sleep it's really handy to know my resting heart rate but my goodness I hate seeing how many times I wake per night and how little sleep I get. I know I'm often tired because I simply don't have time for anywhere near enough sleep but actually seeing it on the screen is quite shocking...

I'm not convinced the elevated heart rate implies that you woke up. Dreams can be freiightening, intense, also quite ....pleasurable... (ahem ahem) and cause the heart rate to spike. I was wearing my Watch while watching a Rangers hockey playoff game (sadly, Greg Moore wasn't playing). During the last few seconds of the game, my heart rate spiked from 60 bpm to 95 bpm...even though I has laying on the couch the entire time.

How does Fitbit know you woke, rather than having experienced an intense dream or nightmare?

The body is active during sleep, whether it's REM, night sweats, or the male...uh, well, I'm not going to type it, but let's just say, men, during sleep, periodically require increased blood flow. These things all can't take place at a resting heart rate of 40 bpm. I'll even bet that the increased respiration rate or intensity (like during snoring) might increase heart rate.

I'm far from an expert, I don't have a Fitbit nor did I study it scientifically...but I don't believe an elevated heart rate means you woke.

I'm sorry, I don't buy it

Final point, even if you did wake up for a few seconds or more, as long as you fell back asleep, that shouldn't account for being tired in the morning. Getting the proper amount of sleep might be a better determinant of whether one is tired during the day, than the occasional mid sleep waking. Does anyone go to sleep early enough to ensure they'll get 10 (teenagers) 8 (for younger adults) or 6 (for us older folk) hours of sleep?

It's natural to wake and fall back asleep. It's not natural to stay awake long after sunset, artificially stimulated by the long lingering effects of caffeine, television, Facebook or even just incandescent lighting. Much of the animal kingdom goes to sleep when it gets dark. Humans stay up watching intense mysteries and dramas.

Although, from a marketing perspective, I think Fitbit enjoys convincing us that increased heart rate means we woke up...I see little to no value in monitoring heart rate during sleep. Monitoring heart rate during exercise is important, but during sleep...I think it's a gimmick (anyone old enough to remember mood rings?)

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I figure it knows when we're awake because of movement. It will tell me whether I woke up and moved or was just interrupted by a snoring husband or cat annoying the life out of us. I had an app on my phone that I used to track my sleep which I put under my pillow and it could tell if I was in a deep sleep or light sleep (and would sound the alarm during a light sleep phase), it went by movement and definitely worked. I know when I get up the next day that both the fitbit and the phone app could tell when I got up to go to the toilet, chase a meowing cat, check my car is safe from drunk neighbours, or change bedding of a small child who has wet the bed.

My husband has the fitbit without the heartrate monitor and it also tracks his sleep and seems pretty accurate as well (can tell us what time we go to bed even and get up) so I figure it goes by us moving.

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That was one thing I preferred about the phone app alarm, it wakes you during a half an hour period when you're less likely to be sleeping deeply. The fitbit just wakes me at 5.45 when I've set it whether I'm in a coma or already awake. It vibrates for the alarm which is great because I'm not waking the whole house but I really wish it had the feature of the phone app where it waits until it can feel you already shuffling about before sounding.

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