How Can Technology Help Us With Our Daily Lives?

It’s 2015. Technology is everywhere. You see people constantly on their phones, wasting their day away checking email, social sites, playing games, and everything in between. Technology occupies us but how can it help us?

For this post I’m going to stick with talking about fitness devices and activity trackers, specifically the Polar A300 Heart Rate Monitor Watch.

Before we get started, if you’d like to see all of the blog posts that I’ve written for the Polar A300 I’ve made an easy link for you.

For transparency purposes, I will mention that I am a Polar Ambassador however the opinions and discussions in this article (and this blog) are my own. I write about these watches only because I think they areĀ *amazing* and would love to help educate people on how to use them! šŸ™‚

Ok .. let’s go!

I am one of those people .. I have to wear a watch. With the evolvement of technology I also like to know what my activity level is for the day… what I have, or have not, been doing. That is where theĀ Polar A300Ā comes in handy.

Polar A300 has a watch alarm
On the Polar A300 there is a handy alarm feature that, yes, even includes a Snooze button!

In a typical day I wake up to my watch alarm buzzing me that it’s time to get on with another work day. I likeĀ having an alarm so convenient .. and I will admit to using it for anything I need a reminder for. Why not?!

TheĀ Polar A300Ā tracks daily activity, i.e. steps, and even gives you an estimate on about how many calories you’ve burned during the day.

What is nice is that one of the watch face views has a progress bar under it, showing you how far you are along in your steps for the day. If you want to know what it will take to get to one hundred percent for the day you can quickly take a look at your status and it will show you a few options! Many times I’ve seen that I just need 10 minutes of walking and it’s been encouraging enough that I’ve gotten up and knocked that walk out just to finish the day off right!

Polar A300 Inactivity Alert
The Polar A300 not only monitors your activity but it can also tell you when you’ve been inactive for too long. It always manages to let me know at the perfect moment!

I will admit that I’m almost yin and yang with my daily activity.

Being a group fitness instructor I am very active when I teach, keeping the watch very happy with all my movements. When I’m at home, it’s a different story. I’ll be enjoying my down time at home and all of a sudden I have been sitting on my butt for way too long…. next thing you know the watch will buzz me letting me know that it’s time to move!

I’ve had it both happen to me at home and work (a bunch of times!) and I’ve noticed that it’s always at the perfect time, when I’m in some sort of relaxing, awful, zoned out funk. It will buzz me and I’ll instantly get up and do something, whether it be walk, do a few jumping jacks, or just something to get the blood flowing again. You can turn them off if you want but I personally enjoy the nudge, reminding me that it’s not good to be so idle for so long!

Polar A300 with training targets
When you set up your training targets on Polar Flow it makes it quick and easy to start your workouts when it’s time to hit the gym!

I like to set up training targets on my Polar A300Ā for the workouts I expect to do during the week, so I can hold myself accountable for making my weekly goals.

On this day I was scheduled to teach Bodypump. What great is that when the watch is synced, I’ll click on the start button and it asks me if I want to start my Bodypump workout. That’s so nice!

Since the watch can talk to the mobile app (Android or iOS) through Bluetooth, getting the data off theĀ watch is easy!

For me, I simply start the sync process as I’m changing to leave the gym. The data is automatically sent from my watch to my android and it will even beep when it’s finished.

Then, when I’m walking out of the gym I like to pull up the Polar Flow mobile app to see a fancy breakdown of the workout! It’s one thing to track your heart rate but I use heart rate tracking as a tool to see how I’m working out, in which zones, and if I’m trainingĀ smart with every workout.

Polar A300 - changing out the watch band
Within seconds you can switch your watch band out for a different color that you have!

Later on this night I had plans to head out .. and decided that maybe the watch color would not look great with what I was wearing… but I don’t want to miss out on a complete picture of my day in activity.

TheĀ Polar A300Ā is great because you can quickly and easily change out the band.

What?

Yes!

About 30 seconds later my watch was now a color that looked much better with my outfit!

The good news is that by the end of that day I could call it a success! Using technology to help me in my daily life the Polar A300 kept me healthy and motivated!

The watch made sure I did not oversleep, it buzzed me twice to make sure that I was not sitting for too long, it was ready to go when I needed to teach Bodypump, it motivated me to take that extra walk in order to get to 100% of my daily goal, and it even changed colors in order to match with my evening outfit! šŸ™‚

I love this watch and it’s definitely a case where technology helps us to live smarter, healthier lives. If we can use this to our advantage and make good choices one day at a time I feel much better about our chance for better health today, tomorrow, and in years to come.

Thanks for reading!

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Taking a Look at the Polar M400 Heart Rate Monitoring GPS Watch ā€“ Activity Diary, Both on the Watch and on Flow

I had previously written about the Polar M400 and it’s ability to track your daily activity, including inactivity and sleep. Ā In this segment we’ll take a look at the diary aspect of the M400, both on the watch and, briefly, on the website.

For transparency purposes, I will mention that I am a Polar Ambassador however the opinions and discussions in this article (and this blog) are my own. I write about the M400 only because I think it’s *amazing* and would love to help educate people on how to use it! šŸ™‚

According to Polar’s website the Polar M400 “Stores up to 30h of training time (may vary depending on your language settings). You can see your training history from the past four weeks and what you have planned for four weeks ahead.”

I like to look at what I did that week, and maybe the week before, but not really much further than that (on the watch), so that works perfectly fine for me šŸ™‚

Let’s look..

Polar M400 Diary Menu ScreenFrom the main watch screen there are three buttons on the right hand side. The center button either starts the process of a new workout or, within the menus is like your ‘Enter’ button. To get to the Diary you will press the down arrow twice, then hit the red / Enter button when you see “Diary.”

From here you will see your current week, with the first day of the week being whatever you set it up as on Polar’s Flow website. For mine, I set it to start my weeks on Sunday because I like to think like the calendar šŸ™‚

For my example, we are going toPolar M400 Diary Menu Screen - Showing Number of Workouts for Each Daylook at Tuesday .. because Tuesday is the day that I teach so muchĀ that it makes it a rough day but still a good example!

Since I am looking at a Tuesday on a previous week I pressed the up arrow until I got to that week, highlighted Tuesday, then pressed the red / Enter button to take a look at those numbers.

What you will see on the next screen depends on what you did that day.

20150308_192117If you did not log any workouts on the device then you will just see your daily tracking numbers (as in your Active Time, SmartĀ Calories, Steps, and Approximate Distance Traveled). That is shown in the image as 317% Daily Activity. Highlighting that, and clicking on the red button, will give you the details that I mentioned above.

If you logged a workout, or workouts, then you’ll see those as well. In this example you see one activity for Indoor Cycling. We’re going to look at that work out.

If you like stats andPolar M400 - Looking at the Workout feedback screens on the watchĀ instant feedback, then you will love the Polar M400. After completing a workout you have access to a nice set of information! Can we say stats galore!

On the feedback screens you will see how many calories you burned, what heart rate zones you worked in, average and max heart rates, and even feedback on what your workout accomplished (on the screenshot that says “Training benefit tempo & Maximum training” .. clicking on that actually gives you even more feedback!). You will get this for every workout you log on the watch.

Taking it a step further, the new site Flow, will have even more stats goodness to sink your teeth into. Let’s take a quick look at that same week on the website.

Here is a peek at the same week, below, on their site.

It summarizes the different activities and gives you a quick view of

  • Workouts, including calories burned and an icon to show you what the workout was
  • Your Daily Activity percentage achievement (the teal percentage # at the bottom of each day)
  • Your inactivity alerts (see the yellow icons on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday? I had a good excuse .. we got more snow and I was enjoying the lazy time at home!)

Polar Flow Webiste Week View

Then at the end of the week you’ll see a week summary of what you accomplished.

Let’s take a look at Tuesday, which is what we were looking at on the Polar M400 itself:

Polar Flow Day View of Activities

This is a general view of what we say on the week view but scrolling down further on this page is where you see all the fun stuff šŸ™‚

Activity Summary is an overview of the entire day, including my workouts, daily activity, and sleep.

Polar Flow Day View Details - Activity Overview

Training Summary is more specific to the workouts that you logged on the Polar M400, and gives you a fancy summary of what zones you worked in between them all. Because all three of these were indoor workouts (classes I was teaching) I logged zero miles but I knocked out too many calories. Thankfully I only have one day a week like this .. !

Polar Flow Day View Details - Training Overview

I really hope this helps someone out there.

I will continue to blog about the Polar M400 and, additionally, am going to start talking about the newest Polar watch, the Polar A300, which is similar yet different, yet also fantastic!

If you have any specific topics that you’d like me to cover, please let me know in the comments!

If you’d like to see all of the blog posts I’ve written on the Polar M400 I’ve made an easy tag for that!

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to follow me on social media!

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Taking an Early Look at the Polar A300 Heart Rate Monitoring Watch

Looking for a new heart rate monitoring watch for your workouts? If so then you may want to consider the Polar A300 Heart Rate Monitoring watch.

I’ve previously been talking about the Polar M400 watch so you may ask .. what’s the difference?

In a gist .. if you workout indoors at a gym, at home, etc. and / or swim then the Polar A300 may be for you. If you take your workouts outdoors then you may like the GPS option that can be found on the Polar M400. Sure, there are other differences but in a nutshell that may be the deciding factor for most people between the two.

Before we get started .. if you’d like to see all of the blog posts that I’ve written for the Polar A300 I’ve made an easy link for you.Ā Ā Then, if you’d like to see all of the blog posts I’ve written on the Polar M400 I’ve made an easy tag for that too!

For transparency purposes, I will mention that I am a Polar Ambassador however the opinions and discussions in this article (and this blog) are my own. šŸ™‚

So, let’s quickly look at the Polar A300 to start, then we’ll dive in a bit deeper in future blog posts.

The Polar A300 is a relatively new heart rate monitoring watch released by Polar. It’s a fitness and activity tracker, as in it will track your workouts and even your daily activities. Yes, it’s the new evolution of fitness watches .. this watch isĀ giving you those Ā wonderful 24/7 stats on your steps, activity levels, and even sleep!Ā Paired with a heart rate monitor and you can track and train while monitoring your heart rate for more effective training and results.

Polar A300 How to Switch out the watches band
With the Polar A300 it takes just seconds to switch the watch band out for a new color!

What’s even funner about this watch is that it’s easy to personalize .. by switching out the watch band for different colors.

It may take you 10 seconds, if you move really slow :), to take the super soft band apart from the watch and switch it out for another color.Ā It’s a small design tweak that really gives a new dynamic to the watch as something you wear every day!

Ok, so that’s fun but let’s look at what it has to offer.

So, as I mentioned before, the Polar A300 is both a daily activity tracker and also a heart rateĀ monitoring watch. From the main menu you are presented with a few screens:

Activity:

This is where you will see your daily activity stats. This includes your current percentage, when compared to the goal you set, your active time, smart calorie estimate, total steps taken (so far), and approximate distance walked. Additionally,
if you have not reached your goal it will tell you what it take for you to reach it.

Let’s look at my example in the photo. I’m currently at 53% of the goal I gave myself every day. According to my watch, in order to make 100% I’ll need to either:

  • jog for 41 minutes
  • walk for 1 hour and 34 minute
  • be up for 5 hours and 15 minutes

The difference between the activities of this watchPolar A300 - looking at the Main Menu ItemsĀ and an activity tracker / pedometer is that your goal is not necessarily based on steps, but instead based on ‘active time,’ which is why you see the 5 hours and 15 minutes of ‘up’ time.

History:

According to their websiteĀ has a “Memory capacity up to 60 days (with daily activity tracking and 1 hour of daily training).” That’s great! For me, I personally only want to see the stats for this week, and maybe last week, on the watch. For everything else I usually go to their website.

We’ll look at History in a future blog post but for now just know that you can dive into the History menu and see lots of glorious stats on how hard you’ve worked today! šŸ™‚

Fitness Test:

The Fitness test is good tool to see how we are improving in our fitness journeys. You’ll want to do this when you first get the watch and then again periodically as you continue to improve your overall health. A good rule of thumb is to reassess ourselves about every 6 – 8 weeks. Not too often but often enough to notice progress.

Settings:

General settings about ourselves, watch settings, and all kinds of other tweaks!

Ok, so this is a good start!

If you are asking the question .. is this a good watch or not, I can tell you that YES, it is! We’ll talk about it in more details, and eventually talk about Polar’s Flow site, but if you have any specific questions or topics, please let me know and I will cover them for you!

Thanks for reading!

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Taking a Look at the Polar M400 Heart Rate Monitoring GPS Watch – Daily Activity Tracking

I’ve had the Polar M400 for the past two weeks and have had an opportunity to really put it to use, both in outdoor activities (cycling and running) and extensively with indoor use. So far I’ve been amazed at how solid of a heart rate monitor, and daily activity tracker, this watch is!

For transparency purposes, I will mention that I am a Polar Ambassador however the opinions and discussions in this article (and this blog) are my own.

The Polar A300, M400, and V800 are almost the next evolution of Polar products. Today’s technology on our wrists is more than a simple watch and, in Polar’s case, more than a heart rate monitor. The evolution of the watch is that they are now daily activity trackers (i.e. steps taken, approximate calories burned in your daily life, sleep habits). Additionally Polar has evolved their watches into incorporating feedback within the watch itself, based on how you are doing for the day.

The way I distinguish the three watches is like this .. The Polar A300 is targeted more towards the indoor fitness enthusiast, one who wants to monitor their heart rate but may not need GPS tracking. If you want a device with GPS tracking, that is where the M400 is a good fit for you. The V800 is the highest in the series, aimed at serious athletes and triathletes.

Over a series of blogs we will both take a look at the Polar M400. In the process we’ll also take a look at Polar’s new Flow website, which is pretty spectacular on it’s own!

My intention is to dive into different parts of the watch over time as to not be overwhelming in one monstrous blog. But trust me, it will be worth reading šŸ™‚ . For now let’s look at the daily activity tracking aspectsĀ of this watch.

Daily Activity Tracking The M400 has the ability to track your daily activity, which includes steps, inactivity, approximate / smart calories, and sleep patterns.

Polar M400 - Daily Activity Screens
Polar M400 Daily Activity: Top Left – Shows the empty bar when little steps have been taken. Top Right – When you meet your goal that bar is full! Bottom Left & Right shows the feedback that watch provides as your day progresses!

Steps / Daily Activity:

Polar M400 GPS Watch - Showing Daily Activity Needed to Reach Your Goal
Polar M400 GPS Watch – Showing Daily Activity Needed to Reach Your Goal (argh .. fuzzy photo but I’ll have to try to remember to replace it tomorrow!)

The watch, by default will track the steps that you take within a day, comparing that to the goal that you set for yourself when you first setup the watch (NOTE: I set my goal at the highest level for myself so I have to work a bit harder to make my goals!).

One of the watch faces will show a barĀ along the bottom (as shown in the image to the left), giving you a quick view into your current steps for the day.

If you want more detailed feedback, you can easily go into the menu to see how many actual steps it has logged for the day, how much active time you have had, and also an estimate on how many calories that you have burned for the day.

Additionally, the Polar M400Ā will tell you how much of each different activity it will take for you to reach your daily goal (i.e. XX minutes of walking, XX minutes of jogging, etc) as shown in the screenshot to the right.

Inactivity Monitor:

When you are inactive for an extended period of time you can set the watch to alert you to get moving! This is great for people who have jobs where they are sedentary for long periods of time (like my day job!). It will beep at you and give you a message, gently nudging you to get moving!

When it beeps at me while I’m at work it’s always when I feel like a drone in front of my computer, and could really use the walk, so I am enjoying the nudge to get moving!

Additionally, Flow, which will will talk about later, keeps track of your inactivity alerts so you can see when you were idle, and also how that hopefully improves over time.

Smart Calories:

As shown in the image above, approximate calories burned are also tracked on the Polar M400Ā based on your daily activity. These are great to give you a rough estimate on how many calories we expend in a day through our daily activities, whether it’s sitting, walking, or exercising.

Sleep patterns:

Screenshot of Polar Flow, showing the breakdown of activities
Screenshot of Polar Flow, showing the breakdown of activities

So, this is nice!

Coming from the fitbit world, in order to log your sleep you had to tell the Fitbit One when you were going to bed and then tell it when you woke up. Guess what happened? I logged my sleep twice and never since. I’m lazy!!

On the Polar M400 it will realize your are asleep automatically based on your inactivity. That is fantastic!

If you look at the image to the left, taking a sneak peek into the mobile app it breaks down my different activities, from sleeping to vigorous exercise.

Are you asking what those hearts are? I thought you were. Those are the times I used the Polar M400 with my heart rate monitor in order to track specific exercise.

Since there are no other icons on the screen that means that I have not have any inactivity nudges today .. woohoo! … … although I suspect that I’ll get one soon as I’m sitting here writing this šŸ™‚

So, that is a nice overview of the daily activity tracking on the Polar M400. Expect more talks to come soon as we will look at what else it has to offer! I’m also going to start blogging about the Polar A300 as well, so be on the lookout!

If you have any specific topics that you’d like me to cover, please let me know in the comments!Ā Also, if you’d like to see all of the blog posts I’ve written on the Polar M400 I’ve made an easy tag for that!Ā (I’ll be adding more soon!)

Thanks for reading!

Feel free to follow me on social media!

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