i walk to my work each and every weekday morning, a transportation activity that is preceded by a 1.5 kilometre morning walk just after breakfast. i do the latter because my working day involves pretty much sitting in front of a computer, and the former because the office is only about five minutes away. it would take me longer to extricate a bicycle from the shed than it does to walk down the road. granted, those five minutes can stretch slightly if i meet archie on the way, but on average, 300 seconds generally ought to do it.
it's worth my pointing out at this juncture, that the local primary school can be seen easily from the window of the sitting room and at lunchtime, we can hear the kids playing outside. yet you can perhaps imagine my dismay as i approach the office front door to note one of the teachers at the aforementioned school, climbing into her (sporty) little car, to drive to her classroom.
i mean, why would you?
she's not the only one who indulges in such a blatant demonstration of gross inactivity. there are many who work in the village, yet find it necessary to drive to and from their place of employ, despite the village being only 1.5km end to end, measured between its two furthest points. it's sad to note that, as a population, we have seem to have adopted lethargic as our watchword. more and more folks seem less than keen to walk anywhere anymore to the extent of parking their cars as close to home as possible, even if that means using the pavement.
it sure as heck isn't my job to alter this state of affairs, but i can rarely resist the odd snide remark towards those who like to flaunt their laziness, even at the expense of demonstrable self-righteousness and resultant minor unpopularity. yet as we become less active nowadays there is the continuing progress of digital technology to alleviate the perceived difficulty of altering an ingrained lifestyle to encompass a tad more activity. one such company offering the means of so doing is france's withings, one you may have heard me mention in the context as a sponsor of the richard sachs cyclocross team for this season.
i'd not previously come across withings; proof if proof were required that cycle sponsorship works on more than one level.
they very kindly supplied me with an activité pop watch which, when combined with the power of an associated downloadable health-mate app offers a simple means of tracking daily activity. or maybe lack of it.
the watch itself is quite sleek. offered in a variety of colours with matching face and rubbery strap, it presents no external bezels, for all settings are achieved from within the app, including setting the time and the alarm. aside from minute and hour hands (there's no second hand), there's a smaller dial that's calibrated to display the number of steps taken each day. each division equates to 10%; the app figures out what percentage of each walk has been accomplished and displays according. if, by chance you exceed that number, it simply goes round once more. the target number of steps can, however, be altered from within the health-mate app.
so how does the watch figure all this out, and how do you move the info to the app? as far as i can figure out, the back of the watch is effectively a multi-purpose sensor, recording all your relevant data, subsequently transferring it to your ipad, iphone or android device via bluetooth. at the end of each day, it's a simple matter of holding the watch close to your tablet/phone of choice and everything transfers automatically. no user intervention required.
of course this all depends on having made an initial syncronisation between the two after enabling the watch with the supplied tool (which doubles to allow removal of the back for battery replacement). there's the usual requirement for input of relevant data, such as, name, height, weight etc. this allows the watch to calculate the distance walked and the approximate number of calories burned. of how much use all this is depends greatly on what you're setting out to achieve.
there is no means of the watch being able to display heart-rate on a live basis, so presumably it would be a case of viewing the numbers on the app after syncing. the app also tracks weight loss, but that would appear to depend on user input; the activité pop has no means of calculating your weight from its sensor.
however, as we've had it drummed into our psyches over the last few years, rest is every bit as important as any training or activity we might undertake. thus the watch records our nightly sleep activity, the results of which are quite intriguing. not only did the app display how long it took me to get to sleep, but how long i slept, broken down into hours of both light and deep sleep. the recommendation is for eight hours of sleep per night, so those figures are also represented as a percentage of the ideal.
and if the watch can record your sleep patterns, it also has the ability to wake you from them. an alarm time, set within the app, offers up several gentle buzzes at whatever time you may have set, to at least suggest that it might be a good idea to get out of bed. the downside to all of this is the rather obvious necessity to wear the activité pop to bed each night. this is not something i was used to, but then my festina chronograph is of an altogether less svelte countenance than the withings device.
this is far less onerous than it might seem. the activité pop is very light of weight and you'd be forgiven should you forget it was even there in the first place. i know i did.
all this would be just so many different sets of numbers if no further action was taken. however, withings don't just leave you on your own, for the app offers suggestions as to how you might improve your sleep pattern or how those ten thousand steps might be more easily accommodated into the daily travail.
the intangible force of the numbers game, means that it very soon becomes an obsession to accomplish your target number of steps each day and to manage a decent eight hours sleep. once ten thousand becomes a mere walk in the park, it's simplicity itself to alter the number upwards and give yourself a harder time.
and that's a good thing.
oddly, though withings claim that the watch can distinguish between whether i'm walking, running or swimming (it's waterproof), it manifestly doesn't track cycling (though withings are currently working on that). however, when i am cycling, the activité pop doesn't realise i'm not walking and records the activity as if i was. that brought a few smiles on checking my number of daily steps over the weekends. simply stated, if you wish to remain accurate in your walking schedule, don't wear the watch when cycling.
overall, this is not only an attractive device, but pretty darned clever as far as i was concerned. i would have liked a second hand on the watch face (even the more expensive activité leaves this out) and it takes a bit of getting used to when every parameter that affects its use has to be activated via a digital app. however, as i'm constantly reminded, this is the 21st century and there's nothing so sure as change.
though i'm pretty sure that everyone here rides a bike, it's quite possible that you might want to record non-velocipedinal activity separately; i'm thinking of cyclocrossers (running) and triathletes (swimming). there's also a list of other compatible apps should you wish to expand your horizons just a bit. or maybe you'd like to persuade that all-important him/her indoors to make a bit more of an effort in their daily perambulations. either way, the withings activité pop seems like an ideal and stylish means of so doing.
withings activité pop is available in four colours at a cost of £120 ($149.95). battery life is purported to be around eight months.
monday 5 october 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................