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Fitbit or similar - could it be of use? and how?

Discussion in 'General Treatment' started by Amused, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. Amused

    Amused

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    There's not been much on fitbits recently. I've read the other threads PR showed me.

    I've just seen a comment on Julie Reymeyer's Bad Science on the Pace Trial - where they said they use a fitbit. To monitor activities. To help them not exceed their energy levels.

    I've tried a pedometer in the past (a cheapo weightwatchers one) but it didn't register that I was doing any steps cos I was so feeble.

    How do people use things like a fitbit? Does it take a lot of effort to work out what it's telling you?
     
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  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn Senior Member

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    @Amused - The more important factor seems to be keeping heart rate from getting too high. So any heart rate monitor can be helpful in limiting activities, to help prevent crashes.
     
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  3. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

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    I've been wearing a fitbit on my non-dominant wrist for 6 months or so. It's a step monitor, or rather wrist movement monitor, so it also registers some wrist action as well as steps, eg cleaning teeth, dressing. It doesn't do heart rate. My purpose was to help me find my base level of daily activity that wouldn't cause relapses and might reduce symptoms.

    At the start I was having quite a lot of days of 2000 to 3000 steps/wrist movements (I'm housebound). I was going to bed each day in considerable muscle pain, enough to keep me awake, with frequent headaches, nausea and feeling totally wiped out. I have worked on reducing this, so now I have it set to buzz at me at 1250 steps, and I'm mostly managing to keep around 1200 to 1500. I am mostly in a bit less pain and feel my symptoms are more stable. I intend to stay at this level until, if ever, I start feeling ready to do more.

    It also tries to record hours of sleep and wakeful sections in the night and shows this on a graph, but for me it was useless because I spend a lot of time resting in bed, and as long as I'm lying still, it records it as sleep. It was showing 12 hours sleep when I knew I'd only slept 4 to 5 hours.

    I have not bought a heart rate monitor - I take my pulse (finger on wrist) when I'm active sometimes and if it goes over a certain level I've set myself I know I should stop and rest. I find I know when I've reached that level anyway.

    I saw a TV program recently where they tested wrist heart rate monitors, including fitbit, and every one they tested was wildly inaccurate. I don't think they should be used in a medical context like this. The chest strap monitor was much more accurate. I don't think I'd bother with one unless I decided I wanted to know what was happening to my heart rate in my sleep.

    I hope this is helpful. I'd be interested to hear of other people's experience.
     
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  4. AndyPR

    AndyPR Senior Member

    I have a Charge HR Fitbit.

    Advantages;
    1. Wear it just as you would a watch, no chest strap to worry about.
    2. Automatic monitoring.
    3. Syncs with computer (also smartphones if you have one, I don't).
    4. Tracks steps taken, distance walked and flights of stairs climbed.
    5. So far, relatively long battery life, typically lasts about 4 days.
    6. Tracks sleep in terms of HR and movement.

    Disadvantages;
    1. Can't set an alarm that is triggered by heart rate. Only through experience have I learned how useful this would have been, if I'd known about this at the start I would have looked for a monitor that could do this.
    2. Not as accurate as a monitor with a chest strap. However not wildly, I didn't calculate the differences in anyway but I would say about 10%.
    3. Fairly pricey digital watch if you don't make use of it as a monitor. ;)

    For me it's been useful to see how my HR reacts to my activity. I'm not under any illusions that it is as accurate as a medical grade HR monitor or even as a monitor with a chest strap but I think it works well enough to show me trends. But, as @trishrhymes points out, if you have a watch then you can take your HR manually anyway, and that's a lot cheaper. Like most gadgets, you pay for a level of convenience.
     
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  5. Keela Too

    Keela Too Sally Burch

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    I have written a couple of posts on my blog about using the Fitbit One (step counter only - I carry it in my pocket). Check out the Just ME index in my signature line. Hope that is helpful.
     
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  6. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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    I used a Beurer PM 25:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beurer-Award-Winning-Heart-Monitor/dp/B000I6FN5I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474810335&sr=8-1&keywords=beurer pm 25

    It only cost 30 euros or so and found it really useful. I wore it solidly for a week, set to sound an alarm whenever my HR went over 102. After a week I had a really good feel for little things like how fast I should be walking / taking stairs, standing up and sitting down too quickly etc. After that I stopped wearing it regularly because there were a couple of things I didn't like about it:

    1. Wearing a chest-strap. Apart from being uncomfortable and slipping if you wear it all day, my wife told me as I was on my way to work one day that under a light shirt it looked like a bra strap, and I'm not having that.
    2. The alarm is acoustic, I would have preferred a vibrating one so that only I am aware of it instead of the whole room if I'm teaching or with other people.

    I decided that I would be prepared to spend more for a HR monitor, but only when they brought out one that had absolutely everything I wanted (because if I'm going to spend 200-300 euros it had better be perfect). I wanted:

    1. No chest strap
    2. To be able to set it to vibrate discreetly when my HR goes over 102
    3. To be able to see HR and time of day at one glance without having to switch between screens

    Not much to ask for, but at the time none of the fancy watches on the market seemed to have that combination of features. I kept checking the market every 3 months for over a year, and finally they brought out this beast:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-vivoactive-Smart-Watch-Wrist/dp/B01BKUB6BA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474810871&sr=8-1&keywords=garmin vivoactive hr

    Which I am now the proud owner of, because I can set it up to do all of the above. Again, I wore it for about a week, now I just wear it when I leave the house. Battery runs for 3-4 days and is easy to recharge, HR measurement seems fairly accurate, I know it's not as good as a chest strap, but it'll do for my purposes. It has a million functions (step counter, sleep monitor, gps tracker, all kinds of ways to collect and manipulate data that you can upload and produce fancy graphs etc) that I don't use, I've really simplified it to just show heart-rate and time of day on one screen, and to vibrate if I go over 102 bpm. If I want to impress anyone I can of course swipe the screen to show a fancy graph of my last 4-hours HR.

    It may seem like a waste to spend so much money and only to use so few functions when it can do so much more, but basically I waited for over a year for a watch that did exactly what I wanted so I'm happy with it, I don't upload any of my historic data to the cloud etc, it's just for me to keep an eye on my HR in real time.

    EDIT: Just remembered it's also waterproof, so I wore it in the shower and discovered that my HR goes up to 130-140 when showering, and that I have the habit of holding my breath while showering, which I was completely unaware of. I now always have a bit of a sit down after a shower, now that I know what an exertion it is.
     
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  7. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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  8. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

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    Thanks for the link to your blog, Sally. I have looked at it before but it's good to be reminded. I found it useful when I was considering getting a fitbit. Thank you for that.

    Regarding heart rate, using the calculation method you give, here's my calculation for myself:
    220 - my age = 220 - 66 = 154
    60% of 154 = 92.4
    so my aim should be to keep my heart rate under 92 beats per minute.

    I have just tested myself out of curiosity.
    Seated HR = 80,
    moving from seated to standing HR = 88,
    walked about 8 metres HR = 100.
    seated for 5 minutes, HR = 80

    So just by standing up from sitting and walking from sofa to bedroom and back, my HR exceeds my limit.

    Any suggestions anyone?

    Sorry, I know this thread isn't about me. I'm really asking the more general question about what people do if they find any daily activity takes them over their threshold.
     
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  9. TiredSam

    TiredSam The wise nematode hibernates

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    @trishrhymes I don't find that surprising. I can go from 60-70 seated (50 if lying) to over 100 if I stand and walk around a bit. One of the first things I learnt with a HR monitor was what happens when I stand up too fast and walk too fast. I now stand up very slowly and shuffle for the first few steps, no more jumping up and racing up the stairs.

    Playing darts really brought it home to me, because you stand up, have your turn, go back to your chair and sit down, then stand up in a couple of minutes again for your next turn. That is exhausting and can make me crash in 10 minutes. It's the constant changing of position. I now play one game standing up and leaning against a wall between turns, and then sit out the next game (so sit and rest for 10 minutes while the others play the next game without me).

    Standing up and sitting down is a killer.
     
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  10. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Senior Member

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    The problem with Fitbit is that it records arm movement also. So not a very accurate way to measure steps or mileage. You are better off getting a good quality pedometer. I have an Omron which requires you to input your stride length, weight, and age, so you are getting a much more accurate reading than by using a cheapo pedometer.
     
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  11. trishrhymes

    trishrhymes Senior Member

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    I agree, and you're right to point this out.

    I tried wearing my fitbit around my ankle, which solved that problem. However, I decided in the end I prefer it around my wrist and don't mind if it's recording wrist movement as well, since I probably do a similar amount of wrist movement each day, and my aim is to look at variability between days and spot when I'm starting to do too much, rather than setting exact targets. I'm not interested in mileage. For those who are, the ankle or pocket is better.
     
  12. Keela Too

    Keela Too Sally Burch

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    Try a Fitbit One. It goes in your pocket and I have found it pretty accurate on actual steps
     
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  13. BurnA

    BurnA Senior Member

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    I had a fitbit charge which monitors HR. I found it useful to know when my HR went up and to see how long it took it to go back down. Then it broke and I didn't bother getting a replacement- there was no need because by then I knew my patterns.

    It certainly served a purpose but sometimes I found myself monitoring my HR too closely and becoming obsessed with it. There are probably times now when I exceed my exertion limits and my HR races but to some extent I prefer not to know the numbers now, I know from experience what they would be.

    Chest strap is more accurate but far less practical and accuracy isn't as important as consistency as long as you are only comparing one day or value to another.
    I'd say give it a go to anyone who hasn't.
     
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  14. Arc

    Arc

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    Can anyone recommend a fitness tracker that measures stairs/floors? Thanks
     
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  15. Theodore

    Theodore Senior Member

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    I also would like to buy a HR monitor, in order to help me get back to some activities.

    I am interested in the Garmin Vivoactive HR as well but I think that the Polar M600 is way more accurate, as it has 6 sensors.

    Unfortunately it's more expensive that the Vivoactive but Polar is well known for having a great software (which can show interesting data). Besides, the M600 runs on Android so a lot of apps will begin to show...

    Maybe too technical for your needs but more choices don't hurt :)
     
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  16. Keela Too

    Keela Too Sally Burch

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    Fitbit does. At least Fitbit One certainly does
     
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  17. Marc_NL

    Marc_NL Senior Member

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    If you don't want to pay a top price the xiaomi mi band 2 might be an alternative:
    http://www.mi.com/en/miband2/

    Or the first which is even cheaper (but no display):
    http://www.mi.com/en/miband/#01

    I don't have experience with these bands but xiaomi normally has good value for money.
    I wouldn't buy without first checking some reviews though :)
     
  18. Mel9

    Mel9 Senior Member

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    I like the Fit Bit heart rate measurement most. When I first started using it I discovered that when I was puffing during a short walk my HR was up near 150 bpm or more. This was a surprise but explained my regular painful PEM. I learnt to sit or lie down when I went over 120bpm and PEM became a lot less painful.
     
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  19. Mel9

    Mel9 Senior Member

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    My Fit Bit does that
     
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  20. Mel9

    Mel9 Senior Member

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    I don't take too much notice of the total 'steps' function.
     

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