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Entries in Polar H7 (5)

Saturday
Feb182017

What I use to Track my Daily Activity and Workouts Apple Watch

This video is perhaps not so much a review but more of an overview of what I use in terms of Tech Fitness Gadgetry to track my activity and workouts day to day. Over the years I have had the opportunity to use a number of fitness tech devises from companies like Apple, Garmin, Polar, Fitbit, Jabra, iHealth, Mio, Skulpt and Atlas. At the end of the day you need to find a device that fits not only into what and how you do your fitness but also it needs to fit into your lifestyle and hopefully make that even a little better in some ways.

For a little over the past year I have been using a combination of hardware and software that are independent from each other but work fairly well together thanks to the flexibility of Apple's Heath Kit and Under Armours suite of Apps that offer connectivity with a host of other companies.

You really need to watch my YouTube video as I explain in detail how I use several independent hardware devices with some very flexible software to bring it all together and fit my fitness and lifestyle needs. Here is a list of what I am using with a short description of what each device and software program offers for me:

Apple Watch (Version 1):
My Apple Watch is great in terms of how it is kind of a personal assistant to what's going on with my iPhone. On top of that my Apple Watch tracks my steps and daily heart rate while acting as a go-between and heads up real time display for several of the fitness Apps I use on my iPhone.

Apple iPhone 7 Plus:
We all know what an iPhone can do, on the fitness side I primarily use Under Armour Apps for my fitness needs as I feel they offer me more detailed information and sharing capabilities than Apple's own fitness related Apps. I use the Under Armour Record App to track my daily activity and I also start and stop any workouts I do using the UA Record App. Since MyFitnessPal is also an Under Armour product both Apps share their information to each other so I can offset any food intake calories with exercise output activity which helps me stay on track when either maintaining weight, cutting weight or bulking.

Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor (Chest Strap):
Most wrist based Optical Heart Rate Monitors at least for me do not work properly, they always end up missing my elevated heart rate activity so I miss this important information that is vital for tracking true calories burned during a workout. For this reason I can not depend on my Apple Watch's built in optical heart rate monitor to track my heart rate during a workout. My solution to this problems is to strap on my Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor when I plan to do nay exercise where my heart rate will be elevated, this way I get very actuate heart rate readings and true calories burned during a workout. I have the option of pairing my Polar H7 to either my Apple Watch or directly to my iPhone, generally I pair the Polar H7 to my Apple iPhone since it is the most dependable.

Again make sure to watch my YouTube video below for a much more descriptive explanation on how I utilize all these products for fitness and day to day life.

Saturday
Jan112014

Home Workout - Chest, Triceps and Abs with Polar Flow Summary

Follow me along in this video where I do an at home workout focussing on Chest, Triceps and Abs. I use a combination of exercises that incorporate free weights, smith machine, pulleys, my Total Gym and body weight.

As I do with all my workouts now-a-days, I track my heart rate using my Polar Loop paired to a Polar H7 (with smart Bluetooth) heart rate monitor so I can track my calories burned during my workouts. I show you a graph of this workout at the end of the video so you can see my total workout time, peek heart rate, average heart rate and calories burned for the workout.

I also talk a bit about a gaol I have which is to potentially compete in a mens over 40 physique fitness competition at the end of this year, I will have to see about this but without goals you are only limiting yourself!

 

Saturday
Dec212013

Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor Review

So What are these devices?

The Polar loop is an Activity tracker. The Polar Loop tracks motion using an internal gyroscope and figures out how many steps you take and also knows the type of other activities you are doing like: sleeping, sitting, standing around, walking, running. The Polar Loop then converts that info into a calorie output guesstimation.

H7 is a Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor. The H7 is a sensor that you wear around your chest to read your hearts beats per minute, it can pair to the Polar Loop, adding heart rate information allowing the Polar Loop along with its polar Flow software to know in detail how many calories you are burning (bases this on your age, weight, height and gender). I'm not going to talk a lot about the H7 during this review other than how it integrates with the Polar Loop.

Why get one of these gadgets?

If you're tracking your calorie intake but not your calorie output then how do you know where you stand? You can guess but you really don't know for sure, having this information takes the guesswork away. The more accurate the data the better you can adjust your calorie intake to meet your goals. (Lose weight, Gain weight, Maintain weight).

As an athlete you may want to know exactly what your heart rate is throughout a workout, so you can make small tweaks and improvements to your future workouts. Having a smart Wristband is kind of cool too!

How does the Polar Loop compare to other wrist band activity trackers?

This is not a comparison review, so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here but the Polar Loop in my opinion and for my personal needs seems to be the best option, why is this? It gives me the most accurate caloric intake and takes all the guess work away. It shows me a lot about how my workouts are effecting me in terms of actual expenditure on my part, my heart rate does not lie!

Some other features I like about the Polar Loop that set it apart:

  • Water resistant to 30 meters, I never have to take it off.
  • It's not going anywhere, it has the most secure strap and latch out of all the bands I have tested.
  • One of the nicer looking fitness bands.
  • The only tracker that knows what you are doing without you having to tell it.
  • Only wrist band tracker that I know of that can pair with a heart rate sensor. (Polar does have some fitness watches that work similarly)

A couple of things that the Polar Loop does not have or do that some other fitness bands have:

  • No altimeter for tracking flights of stairs.
  • No motor/vibration for alarm vibration notifications.
  • Does not really track estimated miles traveled.

Lets talk about the Polar loop in detail now, again this is not a full comparison review but I will be comparing my Fitbit Force to the Polar Loop at times since they are very similar devices and will be of interest to the same type of consumers. (Make sure to watch my Fitbit Force videos)

Price Point:

  • The Polar Loop is one of the lower cost Wrist Band Activity Trackers that includes an LCD screen at around $99.
  • If you plan on adding the H7 Heart Rate Sensor, it's an additional $79 but worth it if you want extremely accurate workout and calorie expenditure data.

Build Quality:

  • So far so good, my Polar Loop not showing any real wear and tear to date.
  • Has a very secure strap and clasp, it's not going anywhere.
  • Water proof down to 30 meters so you know the internals are protected from most environmental situations.

Esthetics:

  • One of the nicest looking bands out there in my opinion.
  • Customizable strap, just cut to size, one size fits all and comes with all the sizing tools needed except for a pair of scissors.
  • The Red LED screen is very easy to read and the scrolling animation looks cool.
  • Not too bulky and very light weight, does not get in the way or feel heavy or cumbersome at all.
  • If the strap gets beat up, I'm not sure if it can be replaced (Like the FitBit Flex

Battery: 

  • Claimed 5 days of continuous use, but I get more like 3-4 days. I do pair mine with the H7 and have it syncing to my iPhone regularly which will cut down on battery life.
  • LED's dim a bit when the battery starts to get low, soon after that you will get a low battery warning on the bands screen.
  • Charges very quickly, in about an hour using the included custom magnetically attached USB charging cable.

Pairing / Syncing:

  • Pairing perhaps is not as seamless as the Fitbit bands but the Polar Loop does sync just fine with my iPhone over smart BT. (You must have an iPhone 4s or higher, no Android support just yet)
  • When I'm running the Polar Flow App on my iPhone I can get it to manually sync by activating the screen on the Polar Loop, once it is finished syncing to your account (online cloud service), it will sync with the "product" or band.

Paring to my H7 Heart Rate Sensor is fairly simple, the first time you pair the Polar Loop to a compatible heart rate sensor you will want to do this at your home or somewhere secluded. Mainly so you don't confuse the setup with other Bluetooth heart rate sensors that may be close by (in a gym, getting ready to run a marathon…) Just place your compatible heart rate sensor near the Polar Loop and basically put it on, the two will pair automatically and from that point on will be linked to each another. To use the H7, simply put the heart rate sense on when you start your workout and take it off when you're done. You can see your heart rate on the Polar Loop while a heart rate sensor is paired. Your Polar Loop will then transfer that heart rate data to your Polar Flow App software which then sends it to your cloud based Polar account.

Ease of Use:

  • Like pretty much all of these wrist band fitness trackers, the hardest part is navigating all the account setups which is necessary to start using these devices since they all sync their info to a cloud based service of some sort. The cloud data is then communicated back and forth from the device to your Smartphone or direct to a computer which then sends it to the cloud account service, which again will send that data to any other devices that are setup using your Polar account.
  • Once setup, using the Polar Loop is as simple as keeping it charged and wearing it, if you want to see what's going on during the day, simply press the button once to bring up the display and again to cycle through info like the Time, Activity - how active you have been, if you have met your activity goals for the day. You can also see your Calories burned and Steps taken and if you have a heart rate sensor paired, you can see your heart rate in real time on the Polar Loops Screen.
  • You can put the Polar Loop into Airplane mode by holding down the button for about 10 seconds while in Time mode, and take it out of Airplane mode by pressing the button for 10 seconds again while in any mode. (I did not find this very easy to do so be warned!)

Polar Flow iPhone App Software:

  • Activity Tab: Shows you your basic activity for each day, you can scroll thorough previous days if you like. There is a dial that shows you what type of activity was happening at different times of the day and you can see exactly how much of each type you have done (Sleeping, Sitting, Standing, Walking, Running) There is no need to tell the Polar Loop what you are doing, it just knows! Below that are some suggestions to reach your daily goal along with Calorie, Steps, Activity Time and Sleep info (Sleep info seems to be measured as a consecutive sleeping period, not the total for the 24 hour period) You also set your body weight at the bottom.
  • Training Summary Tab: Shows a weeks period of recorder activities and lists how many Sessions, total Duration, total Calories and Fat burned. Below that is a list of the Sessions performed in that weeks period. You can select a session and look at your performance. Heart Rate Chart, Fit versus Fat times, Heart Rate Average, Heart Rate Max, Calories Burned and how much of the workout was in the Fat Burning range. You will also see a little note at the bottom with some tips on your workout.
  • Info Tab: Here you will find some instructional info and even some videos you can watch to learn about your Polar products.
  • Setting Tab: Here you'll find a place to enter your personal Account and Profile information, a place to select if you wear the Polar Loop on the left or right hand, and an area for if you prefer to see your units in Imperial or Metric along with Notification setting.
  • Sign Out Tab: Obviously for if you want to sign out for some reason.

 

POLAR FLOWbeta Wbe Based Online Software:

  • To get to the Polar Flow online software you will need to go to (www.flow.polar.com) and sign in each time. There are several tabs along the top:
  • FLOWbeta Tab: Is like the home button.
  • Feed: shows your activity entries, in my case it shows all the times I paired my H7 to my Polar Loop and did a workout. You can write a comment which is useful for specifying what kind of workout you did for when you go back and revisit that workout.
  • Explore Tab: Is for if you are interested in seeing other peoples GPS based workouts. Not really a Polar Loop thing at this time since the Polar Flow software does not track your location or distance travelled.
  • Diary Tab: Is a Calendar view of your activities and daily goal measurements, you can click on each event to see them in detail. If you where wearing your Heart Rate Sensor then you can see a graph of your heart rate levels. you can also see what is happening in real time by selecting todays date.
  • Progress Tab: Shows you a list of your workout sessions that you can then show on a scale and view Duration, Distance (Not really applicable with the Polar Loop and H7), Calories and Sport Zones.

Pros:

  • One of the nicer looking fitness bands on the market in my opinion.
  • Very secure band/clasp, will not fall off like most of the other fitness bands seem to do once in a while.
  • Water Proof down to 30 meters.
  • Great looking and easy to read red animated LED display.
  • Can sync over smart Bluetooth to a compatible heart rate sensor for very detailed workout calorie output.
  • Only movement tracker that really knows what you are doing without having to tell it, no having to put it in sleep mode. The Polar Loop can tell between sleeping, sitting, standing, walking and running. Most fitness trackers only tell you how many steps you have taken and try to convert that into calories.
  • Seems to be very accurate in how many calories you are actually burning throughout the day, not too many or too little.
  • iPhone App and online FLOW beta software is very good for being rather new or beta.

Cons: 

  • Battery only lasts 3-4 days tops for me.
  • The button does not always respond right away, almost like the band goes into a sleep mode to conserve energy, you have to be really persistent at times.
  • My First Polar Loop was defective out of the box, would not charge at all.
  • Button seems to be (heat and or moisture) sensitive so when in the shower and any time the water gets on it, the band LED lights turn on and cycle through the modes. Once when I was in a Hot tub it did the same while underwater but for the most part when underwater it will generally not respond to any button pressing and stay off.
  • Did have some Polar Flow iPhone App error messages while syncing to the services (cloud), but all the data was getting to the cloud anyways?
  • Putting the Polar Loop in and out of Sleep mode is not as easy as the instructions say, I would suggest leaving it in regular mode.

Conclusion:

For me the choice comes down to the following Fitness Bands: My Fitbit Force that I have been using for several months and been very happy with to date, or my new Polar Loop combined with the H7 Heart Rate Sensor. Although both of these fitness bands do a very good job tracking fitness, when it comes down to it, I prefer the Polar Loop for my needs and this is why. It simply does a better job of accurately figuring out what I am doing and converting that info into real world calorie output, and this is without the H7 Heart Rate Sensor. The Polar Loop does not just make everything an equal step, it looks at all types of activity and takes everything into consideration before converting the info into calories. Combine that with a heart rate sensor during workouts and you have a system that is incredibly accurate at figuring out how many calories are being burnt in a given day.

Sure the Fitbit Force can track flights of stairs, has better battery life, will vibrate for set alarms and is hooked into a bit more complete system for the addition of additional devices like the Aria body weight and fat percentage fitness scale. But at the end of the day, I want a wrist band activity tracker to do one thing really really well, and that's track my calories as accurately as possible, the Polar Loop is king in this area especially if you add a heart rate sensor like the H7 to the equation. I will miss my Fitbit Force but it's time for my Force to step aside and make way for the Polar Loop, well at least for now until an even better band comes out ;)

 

Friday
Dec132013

Test Workout Session with Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor

I decided to try out my new Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band paired with the Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor in a real world workout situation. Rather then doing some sort of targeted cardio workout, I strapped on my Loop and H7 and did a regular weight training workout. I did try to keep my heart rate somewhat elevated by doing my sets quickly but I was also moving recording gear around so that slowed me down a bit, the workout took just over one hour but could have been condensed into about 45 minutes without the camera duties being in the way.

My workout consisted of shoulders using mainly the Total Gym, some arms with a combination of Total Gym and Free Weight, then I did some calves with my smith machine and ended off with some abs on the Total Gym again.

I did track my before and after Calorie and Step markers for my Polar Loop and also my Fitbit Force as a comparison and here are the results I got for this workout session:

Polar Loop:
  • Start Calories: 1485
  • End Calories: 2031
  • Total Calories Burned: 546
Polar Loop:
  • Start Steps:4353
  • End Steps: 6405
  • Total Steps Taken: 2052
Fitbit Force:
  • Start Calories: 1627
  • End Calories: 1889
  • Total Calories Burned: 262
Fitbit Force:
  • Start Steps:6527
  • End Steps: 8657
  • Total Steps Taken: 2130

So as you can see the total steps for this workout where very similar for the workout session but the Calories burned was much different with the Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor accounting for twice the amount of calories in this workout session.

I have also included some Screen Shots of this workout session taken from both The Polar Online App and my iPhone Polar Flow App.

 Polar Online App Screen Shot

Polar Flow iPhone App Screen Shot


I also did two other workouts later on that show some workout results using the Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band paired up with the H7 Heart Rate Sensor:

Weights Only Short Breaks Online Activity Session Online App Screen Shot

CrossFit Chest High Intensity Online Activity Session Online App Screen Shot

So far so good, I am really happy with this combination of my Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor, stay tuned for my full review of both of these Polar products, for now you can watch my YouTube Video of this Test workout using my Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor.

 

Friday
Dec062013

Polar Loop Activity Tracker Band and H7 Heart Rate Sensor Unboxing Video

As many of you know, I really like my Fitness Movement tracking bands, so far I have owned and reviewed the Jawbone UP, Fitbit Flex and most recently the Fitbit Force, all really awesome products on their own! Well I just picked up a couple new items from Polar that track your movement and energy output. First to mention is the Polar Loop Activity Tracker with Smart Guidance. The Polar Loop is really new on the market, so I'm expecting there to be a few bugs with the device firmware and accompanying Online and App based software but that's kind of to be expected with just about any new product, even my Fitbit Flex has some bugs to work out and Fitbit has been making movement tracker for some time now.

I also bought the Polar H7 Bluetooth Heart Rate Sensor to go with my Polar Loop, which wirelessly syncs to the Loop using Bluetooth Smart technology, the added heart rate info helps the Polar software figure out more accurate information about your actual energy output which can then be translated into calories burned.

This video is my Unboxing video for the Polar Loop and Polar H7, there is limited information provided on both of these product since this is purely an unboxing video although I do mention a few things in the video.

Here are some direct links so you can check both products out over on Polar's Website: