Category Archives: quantitativeself

24/7 Activity Tracking with the Fitbit Flex

Early this month I purchased the long awaited Fitbit Flex , which is a super impressive wireless sleep and activity tracker. The slim & stylish device is intended to be worn 24/7 and it most certainly has not left my wrist since it was setup on July 1st. During the day, it tracks my steps, cumulative distance, and calories burned. At night, it works to track my sleep quality and has become a replacement to my usual alarm clock, waking me via a silent vibration.

At any stage throughout the day I can check the Fitbit mobile app or login to to check how I am progressing towards my daily, weekly and long term goals.  The following data highlights the sort of information I receive throughout the day.Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 7.15.36 PMAll of this data is gathered effortless via the Fitbit Flex and sent wirelessly to my mobile device. With this data its become incredibly easy to make changes to all facets of my day. The biggest focus has been given towards minimising my sedentary time outside of the 2 and half hour daily commute.  However one of the biggest areas of improvement for me since using the Fitbit has come in the form of the ability to track and identify my sleep patterns. Given the device has a tiny accelerometer contained inside, it is able to track even the smallest movements. It uses this to identify the sleep phases. Light Sleep = movement, Deep Sleep = No movement. As you can tell from the graph above, my sleep included great amounts of deep restorative sleep which I have identified over time to occur with a consistent bed time of 10.45pm. I’m also excited by the ability to compete with friends for the most daily steps. So come join me and a few others as we compete for activity supremacy.

You can purchase a Fitbit Flex here

As a result of my success with the Fitbit, I am very eager to make use of it within my senior Physical Education classroom, helping students to keep track of, and understand their physical activity. It will allow them to accurately determine whether or not they meet the National Physical Activity & Sedentary guidelines.

With this in mind, I’m excited to be giving away a Fitbit Flex to one lucky person. See the image below for details. Good luck.

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The Quantified Self & PE – Tracking Everything

I’ve always been interested in sport and technology, ever since I received my first ever sports watch as a teenager making it possible to time my laps and splits during athletic training. However while my passion for physical activity has remained, technology sure has advanced in leaps and bounds. Its truly unbelievable and with every new device,  we move closer and closer towards the quantified self.

So what exactly is this quantified self that everyone is talking about? Gary Wolf best describes it in the video below;

My journey on this quantified self journey began with a Polar Heart Rate monitor many years ago. The ability to exercise, while simultaneously observing my heart rate was something that motivated me to improve my overall health in ways I never thought possible. These same motivational qualities are reflected in our students, who revel at the ability to identify their physiological response to a lesson. The theoretical concepts that can also be explored are fantastic opening up a myriad of laboratory activities to improve student understanding.

Not too long after receiving my first iPod Nano, I found myself purchasing a Nike+ iPod sports kit which enabled me to track the distance and relative speed of my runs with a reasonable level of accuracy. However it wasn’t until the iPhone 3GS arrived that my obsession with tracking activity went to a whole different level.

The first ‘app’ that I downloaded on my new iPhone was Runkeeper. I found the whole idea of activity tracking truly out of this world, making it possible to accurately track all of the important metrics one would want within activity. My fitness levels rose to new heights and I began blogging on all of the ways in which activity tracking could be used in the PE Classroom. To this day, GPS apps have been used to teach senior PE concepts such as energy systems, training principles and acute responses in ways I could never have imagined when I was learning. Taking this even further saw the development of Heart Rate sensors such as the Wahoo Blue HR or the Polar H7 Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 9.47.00 PMwhich would enable HR tracking inside of the GPS apps. The data from these activities is full of rich goodness.

In recent months, my pursuits of health data has led me to purchase a groundbreaking device called a FitBit One. Which is an all in one tiny device that allows fluid wireless physical activity and sleep tracking. This has resulted in me being 100% aware of the total steps, total distance, stairs climbed and much more. I’m even informed of my sleep cycles and gently woken by a vibrating alarm when I’m in a light sleep phase.  All of this data is wirelessly accessible via the FitBit website or app allowing me to keep track of everything I do.

To extend my data tracking even further I have recently purchased a FitBit Aria Wifi Smart Scale, which allows me to track my daily weight, BMI and body fat percentages all of which are also uploaded to my FitBit account. This combined with the My Fitness Pal app enable me to keep an eye on my food intake and subsequent energy expenditure in a completely social environment.

This whole world of data collection and mapping truly excites me, making it possible to track health and teach health concepts in ways we could of only dreamed of in years gone by. I’m excited by where these opportunities might take Physical Education and the message we seek to instill in our students. With tremendous growth occurring in wearable technology you can be rest assured that as we gain access to even more data, the data itself will become even more readable and useable by all. This is the space I cannot wait to be in.

Bring on the Quantified Self 

What are you currently tracking? Where do you see this type of technology taking health and physical education as it becomes even less obtrusive and affordable?