Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tip #63: Quantify yourself (a little, at least)

The beach where I take many of my daily walks
About a month ago, I bought myself a Jawbone UP, which is an activity tracker that you wear on your wrist. I decided to get it because Gym-Pact, the iPhone app which motivates you to work out and which I have been using since January 2012, started accepting 10,000 steps as a daily workout, tracked by the Jawbone UP. From my readings about bone building exercises, I knew that you need to move more than just 30 minutes a day if you want to make a difference in your density, so I felt I had to move a bit more.

Today, I'm happy to report that I love my Jawbone UP. It not only tracks your steps, but you can also configure it to do different things, like let you know that you have been sitting down for a certain amount of time (I have set it up for 30 minutes), wake you up within a time window when it feels like your sleep is not too deep, track your sleep, etc.

And I also want to share a very short talk (under 6:00 minutes) about the new phenomenon known as the "quantified self," which fits well with my Jawbone UP and Gym Pact obsessions. If you haven't heard about this, it is the idea that we can now measure and track many aspects of our lives (food we eat, time we sleep or exercise, etc.) thanks to smartphones and smart devices and apps. We can then use all the data we collect about ourselves to improve, in theory, our life.

Of course, this can be taken overboard, like this woman who wears 21 fitness trackers, but I think that judiciously used, these trackers can definitely help us improve any aspect of our lives. Here's the talk:

For more information, here are some more links:
  • A comprehensive article from the New York Times, The Data Driven Life, written by the same journalist who gives the TED talk.
  • An NPR segment, Self-tracking Apps to Help you Quantify Yourself, which mentions many interesting apps.
  • A very intriguing website called Personal Experiments, in which you can sign up, devise your own experiment (say, take a specific supplement) and track your health with and without it, as well as share the results with other people who may be doing something similar.
I have to say that I've discovered that 10,000 steps is a long time walking! Many days I (accompanied often by my husband, sometimes the kids and friends too) go to Seaside Park, a beach near our house - in the picture - to complete the required steps. But, although it is time away from my busy day, I am finding some added benefits: the peace and serenity of the ocean fill my heart, I breath calmness, feel close to nature and, on top of all that, I'm sleeping much better. 

Do you use any of these apps or trackers? Let me know!