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Author Topic: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating  (Read 3579 times)

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Offline cittiecat

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FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« on: February 07, 2016, 06:14:41 PM »
Since there seemed to be some interest in how the FitBit does with tracking skating I thought I would start a topic where we can post there opinions and their results. So to kick it off. . .

I have the FitBit Charge HR.
Today I skated for about 2 hours today. This was mostly laps (though some cut short avoiding others) with some practice for other skills.
I burned about 1140 calories.
I did about 7,000 steps.
I travelled about 3.3 miles.
My heart rate was around or just over 90 bpm for the time I was skating.

Please feel free to share your results or thoughts on fitness trackers and skating.

Offline TDL

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2016, 09:45:24 AM »
I have a Jawbone UP3.

Today I skated for an hour and quarter, pretty rigorously I thought (stroking, patterns, spins and jumps).

The device gave me credit for 3636 steps, and indicated that I burned 841 calories.   

Offline ChristyRN

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2016, 07:55:31 PM »
I average about 1200-1300 steps, .5-.75 miles, around 300 calories and my average heart rate is 105-115. That's over an hour, a combination of moves, FS, and talking to my coach to allow my crappy lungs to catch up.

I wore a FitBit Flex for about 18 months before I convinced hubby to let me upgrade to a Charge HR. I've been using it for about four months and like it a lot better. I laugh at the times it shows I climbed a flight of stairs while skating.  ???
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Offline Cush

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2016, 09:00:03 PM »
I am confused about the distance readings reported. How does a fitbit or any other individual device measure distance skated indoors?  I would imagine the GPS function (if the device has one) is useless indoors out of satellite view, and the typical "#of steps registered times average stride length" to also be useless due to the varied glide of skating. Can someone explain what distance is being reported and how it is measured? Thanks.


Offline twinskaters

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2016, 09:03:18 PM »
I think it calculates distance based on steps? Figuring on an average stride for your height/gender? Not sure.

I have played around with my Fitbit One, counting strokes and checking what the monitor said I did. It was pretty accurate stepwise. Not sure about the calorie burn. Everyone else always tells me to ignore because it's overly optimistic and I don't know if that's true.

Offline Cush

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2016, 09:16:49 PM »
Thanks. 
I can grasp that it could well be accurate enough sensing each footfall while walking on the ground taking regular strides.  On the ice however, one push can take you from one side of the rink to the other, or it can take yout one foot away, depending on the move you're doing. I would seriously doubt distance can be accurately judged on the ice, but I'm open to hearing some good reasoning to convince me  ;).

Offline cittiecat

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2016, 10:48:58 PM »
Thanks. 
I can grasp that it could well be accurate enough sensing each footfall while walking on the ground taking regular strides.  On the ice however, one push can take you from one side of the rink to the other, or it can take yout one foot away, depending on the move you're doing. I would seriously doubt distance can be accurately judged on the ice, but I'm open to hearing some good reasoning to convince me  ;).
Given that a significant amount of distance travelled while skating is glide, I suspect that the fitbit is not accurately calculating distance because it is based on steps times average stride length. That being said, unlike the concerns that calories are over optimistic, the distance would be less than actually travelled. I think I like this because the thought would be that "I travelled at least x miles while skating." So while not accurate it gives you a minimum distance travelled.

Offline Cush

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2016, 10:52:59 PM »
I agree. You guys are probably traveling 3 or 4 times as far as you think!
Very nice indeed.

Offline Query

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2016, 11:32:24 PM »
I sometimes used to use a pedometer (which this sort of is) when I hiked. At the beginning I bounced while I hiked, and it often registered two steps for every step I took, greatly reducing its accuracy for estimating distance. I would guess that if you use the classic "double bounce" on every stroke that many figure skating coaches advocate, you might get this same result from FitBit. I still try to do that figure skating, just as I try to get deep, soft knee bends, with limited success.

I eventually decided I would get fewer hiking injuries (I sprained my ankles a lot, and once had a "march fracture", before I took up skating) if I smoothed out my walking gait. Once the style change was complete, the pedometer didn't register any steps. It was a great exercise in turning an excessively high impact walking gait into a more appropriate low impact style, but the pedometer lost all utility for measuring distance.

The gait style change also enormously reduced the amount of energy I used while hiking, just as efficient skating can sometimes do (have you ever watched a really good speed skater?) - so counting the number of steps seems to me to be of limited utility in determining caloric use.

However, if FitBit instead looks at your heart-rate, maybe that reflects how fast you are using energy? Though I wonder if you would get about the same accuracy, at lower cost, by checking how much water you need to drink to stay hydrated.

I recently started swimming again. Apparently skating + stretching and calisthenics is NOT a whole body workout, because at first I got very tired swimming, and had very low endurance. It goes to show cross-training using many techniques helps to stay fit all over. It is possible that no matter what FitBit tells you, it's not going to be the whole story, when it comes to whole body fitness.

Some gadgets look neat, but exercise gadgets sometimes seem like a complete waste of money.

But hey - if you like the gadget, get it, and have fun. Then you can show off to your friends how useful - or useless - the device truly is.

Offline ChristyRN

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2016, 07:30:33 PM »
I am confused about the distance readings reported. How does a fitbit or any other individual device measure distance skated indoors?  I would imagine the GPS function (if the device has one) is useless indoors out of satellite view, and the typical "#of steps registered times average stride length" to also be useless due to the varied glide of skating. Can someone explain what distance is being reported and how it is measured? Thanks.

When my hubby and I started walking, we used the same landmarks as stop/start marks and walked side-by-side. He's 6'4" and I'm 5'4". I was quite surprised that he was covering twice as much ground as I was.  I finally drove my car over the length for measure and divided my average into the miles and figured my stride length. That's the point at which I figured that I counted each step as one, whereas the device counts two steps as one (I counted left and right individually, FitBit counts left/right as one).

I've assumed that on-ice measurements are estimates at best. After all, going on arm movements, a jump is at most two movements/one step, but we all know it's more than that. That's why I like my Charge HR that adds in heart rate-->effort. I can record the activity and when I look at it at home, I can tell when I was working on harder things and when I was resting/talking to my coach.
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Offline Cush

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2016, 10:32:39 PM »
Thanks folks. So now hopeful about the heart rate monitoring.
Some years ago I used to wear a Polar (chest strap) HRM to ensure I always worked in the right zone during cycling training with my coach. I also used it while running and swimming, and skating too just to see how my cardio strength improved.  The readings proved highly accurate and zone alerts extremely useful.
I don't run at all anymore and cycle less frequently, but want something for swimming and skating.  I loathe having to wear a chest strap anymore! Does the Charge HR perform continuous HR monitoring, or does it check only intermittently. I would really love to find a waterproof wrist device that could accurately do continuous HR monitoring with zone alerts. My research done perhaps a year ago came up empty.

Offline dlbritton

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2016, 08:40:51 AM »

I don't run at all anymore and cycle less frequently, but want something for swimming and skating.  I loathe having to wear a chest strap anymore! Does the Charge HR perform continuous HR monitoring, or does it check only intermittently. I would really love to find a waterproof wrist device that could accurately do continuous HR monitoring with zone alerts. My research done perhaps a year ago came up empty.

I too would like to find a waterproof HRM device to wear swimming.

For measuring distance walking I have a simple pedometer that clipps to my belt. It is surprisingly accurate. My walking route at work was one that was easy to drive so I got an accurate mileage in my car. The pedometer is within 10%. However I have tried it skiing and skating and many times it registers almost no distance/strides.
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Offline cittiecat

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2016, 09:31:01 AM »
  I loathe having to wear a chest strap anymore! Does the Charge HR perform continuous HR monitoring, or does it check only intermittently. I would really love to find a waterproof wrist device that could accurately do continuous HR monitoring with zone alerts. My research done perhaps a year ago came up empty.
The Charge HR continuously monitors, using a light sensor similar to a pulsox meter. This is also the same way that the Apple Watch monitors heart rate and a few other wearables use similar tech as well, but alas the HR is not water proof, just water resistant (can't even shower with it.) On the bright side it is really light (I hardly notice it) and way less awkward then a chest strap :)

Offline rd350

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2016, 06:35:25 PM »
Has anyone used the Apple watch for this?
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Offline Query

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2016, 07:07:59 PM »
I can suggest one family of wrist-worn devices NOT to try swimming, at least in my experience.

I bought an expensive Garmin Foretrex GPS device, when they first came out. It was supposed to be "water resistant."

I took it kayaking. It is common to practice rolling a kayak over and back up, because being able to do that reliably enormously increases the range conditions that you can safely paddle in. My roll worked fine, but the Foretrex flooded with (salt) water, and nothing I could do fixed it. :(

Incidentally, I was stupid enough to buy another Garmin GPS, which was supposed to be water-resistant, designed for marine use. It lasted a few months, and died. Garmin is a big GPS brand, but I learned my lesson. Marine use does not mean submersible - and certainly not submersible with splashing. And never Garmin again.

Another watersports issue is that the device should float - so if it comes off, you don't lose it. (Exception: divers often prefer "neutral buoyancy", so the device stays at the level of the diver.) Though to be honest, you probably won't find one like that. Sigh.

There are a bunch of heart rate monitors - including a very expensive FitBit device - that are nominally designed for swimmers.

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=swim+heart+rate+monitor&tag=geminimobiles-20&index=sporting&hvadid=29333640202&hvqmt=b&hvbmt=b&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_41hkc6t9eu_b

As a boater, I would hesitate to use anything not rated to be water-resistant to at least 200 m depth. (The Water-resistant FitBit is only rated to 210 feet - much less - which is somewhat fishy, though it might be good enough.) I know you won't swim that deep - but the others don't take splashing very well at all. Also, anything that costs less than $50 will probably fail instantly in the water, and $50 is borderline. (BTW, you can get nominally waterproof or water-resistant watches in dollar stores. The only problem is that they don't work when wet. :) )

Another brand to avoid - Casio. It costs more to replace the battery - or get warranty service - than most of their watches cost. (Any watch dealer can replace the battery cheap - but you are supposed to replace the gasket. They don't sell gaskets. Casio says you have to ship the watch to them for that, along with a large fee.) Also, most of the Casio water-resistant watches say not to press any buttons when wet. The weird thing is that Casio used to be the brand that all the boaters and swimmers used, unless they were doing deep dives. Timex, which used to be a junk brand in the water, now works much better in the water than Casio, so you might try searching for "Timex heart rate monitor" and "water".

BTW, it is unlikely any GPS will work right while underwater, because GPS signals tend to bounce off the water.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2016, 08:41:41 PM »
I used to use one of those heart rate monitors. It said I used up 800 cal per one hour skating session.... no that was bull.
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Offline Cush

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2016, 06:22:28 PM »
So now I feel like a bit of an idiot. But a happy idiot nonetheless :D

I've been wearing a Samsung Gear S2 Smart watch since the day it hit the US market. Yep, I'd been waiting for it, looking and waiting, reading and waiting for months. Admittedly I'm a former Pebble fanatic who became unhappy that they did not have a heart rate sensor to offer. I wanted the best of both worlds - a powerful smart watch for business use with good battery life (unlike apple watch that has to be charged daily), and good activity/sport features.

I was very very happy with all the usual "smart watch" things the watch did, then realized how limited the fitness support was. At least I could not find a way to make it do what I wanted (e.g. continuous HR measurement, tracking and reporting of workouts etc).   I could only measure my heartbeat once at a time when I triggered it, and had to go into that part of the menu to see it. It also did not seem to have a way to calculate calories from the heart rate data or do anything sensible with the data. Regular "activity" stuff worked fine - it would yell at me when I was sitting for more than an hour (configurable), it could measure steps and distance based on stride, and various other useful and useless things :)

About 3 days ago a software update was distributed. I discovered many of the changes last night!
WOW, now I am really happy and hopeful again.
I can now track an entire workout with a great on-screen progress display, monitoring the heart rate throughout,  it estimates calories burned based on my personal data. Also allows you to set end and intermediate goals so you get feedback on your progress as you go.
Last night I did some circuit training with weights, wearing both my old chest strap (Polar) and my GearS2. The calories burnt and activity graphs given at the end were close enough on the two devices. Today I took a long walk here at work inside our buildings, clocked just over a mile. It reported the graph of my heart rate changes, calories, information about the zones I was in etc. After looking at old records in MyFitnessPal, I see that the information is all in line with what I had in the past with my chest strap.
I'm curious about how all the new activity modes work, what it does does differently for each. There are activities from Aerobics and Alpine Skiing, to Ice Skating, to Yachting and Yoga. Perhaps it's just a way to tag the workout with a meaningful name.

I will take it skating and see how it does and report back, probably not till weekend though.
I also need to check to see if they improved on the sleep tracking portion. Only draw back I see at the moment - it is only water resistant, not waterproof.

Offline Cush

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2016, 06:27:51 PM »
Forgot to mention: Sync between the watch and bluetooth ear buds is working a lot better. Hasn't dropped all day.
No more need for my phone at the rink boards to get my music :)

Offline Query

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #18 on: April 18, 2016, 05:06:17 PM »
CHEAPER THAN FITBIT

My watch battery on my $8 watch needed replacing. Couldn't find anyone who would replace it for less than $6.

And the dollar store had no watches in stock!

So I went to Five Below, and bought an Action Tracker 8 pedometer/watch for $5.

  http://www.fivebelow.com/series-8-fitness-action-tracker.html

It's a simple pedometer. Display modes are

  time (usable as a simple watch)
  steps (actually counts arm swings. Double counts very slow arm swings.)
  distance (based on steps and stride length)
  calories (based only on steps, stride length and weight; doesn't use speed, AFAICT).

You must set the time, your stride length and your weight).

At normal walking pace, steps are counted right, as long as I swing my arms.

There is no heart rate, or GPS position. :(

It says that taking it apart could damage it, so I haven't yet, so don't know if I can change the battery. Oh well; it costs less than getting my watch battery replaced, so I'll live with it. It isn't supposed to be water resistant (but is sweat resistant), or shock resistant. We'll see.

I haven't bothered playing with the app for IOS/Android that I assume connects via Bluetooth, to show daily progress.

Note: there is a slight rattling sound as I turn my wrist one way and the other - associated with the swing detector?

It may not be as good a deal than the cheapest eBay equivalents

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_sacat=0&_sop=15&_nkw=pedometer&rt=nc&LH_BIN=1
(low as $1.19 for pedometer/watch)

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=pedometer&_sop=15&LH_BIN=1&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR5.TRC2.A0.H1.Xpedometer+%22heart+rate%22.TRS0&_nkw=pedometer+%22heart+rate%22&_sacat=0
low as $7.59 for pedometer/watch/heart rate monitor

But it was in the shopping center I was at. :)

Offline PhysicsOnIce

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2016, 09:29:37 AM »
I've been using a sigma heart rate monitor the last month or so since getting back on the ice to keep track of my caloric expenditure. Honestly, I don't know how accurate it is but typically it says I've burning around 500 kcal per hour with an average heart rate of 156, which to me seems rather reasonable since a 30 minute run puts me at around 300 kcals.
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Offline nicklaszlo

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2017, 01:51:43 AM »
I borrowed a Garmin Epix and a bluetooth heart rate monitor.  During my practice I recorded an average heart rate of about 160 beats per minute.  The lowest was 120 beats per minute (talking to my coach) and the highest was 210 beats per minute (program).  I don't know if heart rate really matters.

Offline Query

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Re: FitBit (or other tracker) and Skating
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2017, 07:21:18 PM »
I borrowed a Garmin Epix and a bluetooth heart rate monitor.  During my practice I recorded an average heart rate of about 160 beats per minute.  The lowest was 120 beats per minute (talking to my coach) and the highest was 210 beats per minute (program).  I don't know if heart rate really matters.

210??

If sources like this one are correct, that is really, really high, even unsafe.

However, it is my experience with heart rate measurement devices, as with step counters, that most of them get it wrong with me - it is possible my veins are a little further from the surface than they assume, so they are actually measuring a faint signal with noise. I think it also depends on how much sweat is at the point of contact - I usually don't sweat very much. (I seem to get pretty accurate heart rate results - but not step count results - out of a $20 watch that was sold at Aldi. But not out of the heart rate monitors built into gym exercise equipment, or out of a $5 watch I bought at Five Below.) Sometimes they double count, sometimes they miss beats. I think that they would need to be sensitivity-calibrated to your body to be correct - and the ones I've tried can't be. I wonder what the high end equipment they use in hospitals does - I assume they figured out how to measure heart rate accurately in hospitals for everyone.

You might want to check by other means (e.g., finger on wrist or neck, or hand on heart) whether it is measuring your heart rate accurately. If not, maybe you could ask your doctor whether 210 is reasonably safe for you.

Here is an unrelated experiment that might be fun. :) Monitor your heart rate using an accurate technique (finger or hand). Work on mentally controlling it without exercise. I can control heart rate a lot. I think I've heard of biofeedback experiments along those lines... I think I can do it with blood pressure too. I haven't really tried it while exercising, though. Of course, maybe what I am really doing is tensing and relaxing muscles, which uses more or less oxygen, and the body responds by changing the heart rate.