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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Diet & Exercise: Activity Tracker

I'm pretty happy with the $37 Aldi Activity Tracker after using it for a third day. This was a normal work day, and the total step count was again within 3% of my estimate based on the activity I'd done and a spreadsheet I have of manually counted steps for each 'standard' activity. After downloading the data from the device to my tablet, the activity chart clearly shows each bout of activity being recorded during the day, as shown in the annotated chart below. The chart shows that my job is essentially sedentary, so if I didn't make a point to get up and go for a short walk every hour while at work I'd end up sitting in my office chair all day. The other thing that is obvious from the chart is that walking alone won't improve my aerobic fitness much - only the few minutes of jogging on the spot during my 5BX session were at a sufficient pace to be deemed 'active' time according to my device. While I loath getting hot and sweaty (it's really bad for my eczema), I'll probably have to add a fifteen minute jog around the block to my evening routine when I've shed a bit more weight.
The chart also shows that my normal walking pace is around 100 steps/minute, which, with a stride length of ~80cm, means that my normal walking speed (gait speed) is around 1.33 m/sec (4.8 km/hr), which is fairly average (comfortable gait speeds range from around 1.46 m/sec for men in their forties, to around 1.27 cm/sec for women in their seventies according to one study). Other research (summarised here ) suggests that a person's preferred (natural) gait speed is remarkably stable, and that a natural gait speed of 1m/sec or above is correlated with above average survival rates for elderly people (average gait speed for a sample of 34,485 community-dwelling adults 65+ years old was 0.8m/sec). So one early indicator of incipient health issues might be a decreasing trend in one's natural gait speed over time.

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