> 2,048 miles

Wearing Jawbone UP surely made me more active.

My 9–5 work routine involves sitting at my desk with a laptop and doesn’t allow for much movement so I got myself a nifty fitness tracker thinking I can discipline myself to get moving a bit more. Since March 2014 I have walked over 2048 miles — it’s been quite a journey and I’d like to share some of my experiences with you and my mission is to get you buy a fitness tracker.

Engineering a daily routine

This is my day: Wake up 7:30 and walk 15 minutes to the nearest tram stop even though I have a bus stop outside my house. At work, every 45 minutes my Jawbone UP vibrates to tell me I’ve been sitting idle for too long, I get up and walk around the office for couple of minutes or so, do some stretching. This also helps if you’re a programmer to look at the problem you’re solving from afar and break out from the heavy thinking once in a while!

At lunch time I go for a walk, farthest I can get within 20/30 minutes, grab a bite and a coffee then come back to the office, if it’s raining I still try to make an effort, I’ve taught myself to always carry an umbrella, oh the English weather!

My way home is a bit more involved process, I’ve mentioned above I get a tram to work, well on my way home I actually get off the tram half-way to my home and walk extra mile or two. It started off in hot summer, when it was unbearable to stay on the tram. The British Summer has ended pretty quickly but I have developed a habit, now with near-0 temperature I’m still wandering home in pitch-black evenings and you know what? It feels ace.

Getting others to join in

I started to like the whole idea of getting away from the desk and doing some more movement and walking that extra distance. Last summer was glorious and I started to do more hiking, as Peak District National Park is only 20 minutes on the train from where I live.

When attending regular meet–ups I got chatting with couple of friends and they all agreed on my findings, sitting idle by the desk isn’t doing much good to your body and right in that moment an idea formed — digiHike. A monthly event, where a group of local creatives, programmers and entrepreneurs would go offline for one day, usually it’s a Saturday, go hiking and enjoy the nature somewhere in nearest National Park.

The uptake has been great, so great that we’ve made a flag to make it more official! We‘ve just had our 6th hike, most of which was really cold and wet but when people get along really easily the group spirit makes the whole hike really enjoyable.

Our first digiHike happened in Edale

The not-so-big data

Apart from Jawbone UP being a reliable source of data, they are built to be a very social device, thanks to their iOS & Android apps. I have added my colleague, who also have purchased the device as a team member and we get to compete on who walks more on a daily basis — yes, this balances on being a creepy feature where you get to see at what time they’ve “moved vividly” at night and being a great way to compete or simply learn off each other.

In terms of the gathering data, I’m using this awesome IFFT recipe, which saves all the data to my Dropbox in a single file. I also track my sleeps, for which I use a variation of the same recipe but purely for sleep variables.

There are gaps in the data though, many times it has happened that my wristband’s battery has died and I didn’t bother to charge it for couple of days — this seems to be a common trend, once you're working on your streaks and a small obstacle like a flat battery comes in way, people give up on using them gadgets all together. I try to stick to my practice, I’m pretty certain I have developed a habit out of it now.

Capturing the data would be pointless if there was no goal to it, so the question comes to mind:

— What do you do with this data then?

— Well, not much.

Captured steps, mileage and sleep lengths aren’t much of a use on their own, the real deal comes when you give it a context. I have been looking at Apple’s Health app now and again but could never find a real use to it. Sure, a dashboard shows me the spikes and a general trend but there’s no real meaning to it.

On the other hand, the UP app and it’s fantastic feature called “Smart Coach” is a killer. It looks at my daily routine and suggests to push myself walk a little bit more, hit bed little bit earlier and gives general kudos on my weekly performance. There is no fancy dashboards, just words of encouragement, which makes a massive difference!

Jawbone has created a fantastic eco-system around fitness, the trackers look greatly desirable, they work pretty accurately and their smartphone app is really friendly and gives a real meaning to your health goals.

Wearables & fashion

There is a huge selection of fitness trackers out there in all kinds of sizes and shapes but looking at the Jawbone’s portfolio, their products always stand out.

However, I am really tempted to get the Apple Watch since it tracks your heartbeat and it being a watch, has a screen that can display contextual, concise information, I can imagine the UP app being about much more than just the fitness trackers.

What about you? Are you into any of this quantified-self stuff? Do you use a fitness trackers? What trends have you observed?

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