Sunday, January 25, 2015

Garmin Vivofit 500000 Step Review

Garmin Vivofit - 500,000 Step Review

Click any graphic for
a larger view
The Garmin Vivofit that I purchased in November has been tracking all of my steps - with the exception of a single day when it stayed on the side table and I stayed in bed. 

Garmin Vivofit - 400,000 Step Update 
Garmin Vivofit - First 300,000 Steps

What I Have Learned

First, you need  a few measured loops, simple walking loops where you know the exact distance. 

  • 500 steps to the bus stop and back
  • 2000 steps to the lift station...
  • 4000 to GH Street...
  • 7000 to the elementary school...

At the beginning of the day when the Vivofit picks the target, these numbers are not overly useful. After all, a 9000 step target is not going to be satisfied by any of these. But at the end of the day, when you just need  a few steps to meet your goal, having a few pre-measured loops will keep you from wandering the neighborhood like a hobo.

Second, comfortable shoes matter. I switch back and forth between a pair of mid-weight hiking boots and a pair of very light-weight running shoes. The running shoes allow for a faster pace, and the extra heel cushioning is terrific. The boots give great ankle support, at the cost of a more jarring stride. I still rotate between the two because I wear the boots when hiking (not on paved roads or sidewalks) so I need to feel their weight and support. But, for the longer loops I try to go with the running shoes. 

Third, you have to have good music on your MP3 player. Hit "Random" and start walking. 

What I Need to Work On

I need to work on a strategy for crappy weather. I was able to bundle up (layers) for cold weather down to 32 degrees. But cold and windy and damp are not my favorite combination. Once you get warmed up, the layers start working against you, and any attempt at relief was rewarded with chills. 

Did I really miss my December target by 315 steps?
Yes, Yes I did... 
I need to figure out how to relate to the Garmin Vivofit. Sure, we have come to an agreement on daily targets (the Garmin picks). And, I know that I am going to miss my daily target - my longest streak in 11 days, all during the Christmas and New years Holidays. In fact, I only surpass my target 69% of the time. 

But, I missed my December monthly target by 315 Steps! The sum of the daily targets for the entire month is recorded and reported. Imagine my surprise and disappointment. In January I had a couple of very busy days and missed my daily target. I have been working to catch up. 

I have not found a way to reset the daily target - which is randomly picked, but seems to trend higher every few days. My goal requires 8440 steps per day, which is well below the random picks. 

Finally, I need to find time for the additional steps. I have increased my pace from 1600 steps per 15 minutes to 1800+ per 15 minutes - which is about 3.5 MPH. Much faster and I would need to start jogging. My morning routine and typical work day scores about 3500 steps. So I need to find reliable time for the other 6000 steps or so -- after taking care of wife and kids, and sports and band and scouts and... 

I don't always have an hour a day to dedicate to the road. 

Green Bar = High Activity
This chart shows pace of 1787, 1830, and 1828 steps per 15 minutes.
Click for larger view. 

Bottom Line

I started tracking my steps with the Garmin Vivofit during the week of November 23. Since Thanksgiving I have lost seven (7) pounds and my blood pressure and HbA1C are back to normal. 

I have recorded >535,000 steps, with no injuries - not even blisters. It takes me about 2071 steps to cover a mile (my score today: 14,522 steps, 7.01 miles). 

Aches and pain sure -- because: old and fat. But, I suspect that jogging ~260 miles in 65 days would have been physically traumatic. Injuries limit exercise.  

Walking is working for me. The Garmin Vivofit is keeping me honest and working hard.


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