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And now for something completely different: The GoWear Fit Armband

Thursday, February 26, 2009 Posted by Travis Saunders
Peter and I have been a couple of negative nellies the past few days – we obviously aren’t fans of Acai Burn, and if nothing else, the ROM is ridiculously overpriced. Today, we have decided to turn over a new leaf and discuss a product that might actually benefit some people – the GoWear Fit Armband.

The GoWear Fit Armband is a very fancy accelerometer. Think of it like a pedometer on steroids. Pedometers are used to count the number of steps that you take, and are a great way to get a sense of the amount of physical activity you accumulate throughout the day. However, one big problem with pedometers is that they only tell you about quantity (the number of steps) not quality (intensity) of that physical activity. This is where accelerometers like the GoWear Fit Armband come in. Accelerometers keep a record not only of the amount of total physical movement, but how quickly that movement is taking place. In this way, accelerometers can tell you about both the quantity and quality (intensity) of your physical activity. This is very important for two reasons:

1. Moderate to vigorous physical activity is likely to result in greater health benefits than low intensity exercise performed for the same duration, and;

2. As we increase exercise intensity, we also increase the number of calories that are being burned (30 minutes of running burns many more calories than 30 minutes of walking).

In addition to quantifying physical activity, the GoWear Fit Armband also measures the amount of heat produced by the body in order to estimate calories burned by non-exercise sources (basal metabolism, digesting food, etc). The result is that the Armband can be used to get a relatively accurate measure of the number of calories you are burning on a daily basis. To be fair, the Armband tends to slightly underestimate total energy expenditure, which might be due to the fact that it's hard to measure the energy needed to digest food by analyzing heat production in the arm (See studies examining its validity here and here). The basic model runs around $200.00, which is only slightly more than a good heart rate monitor or pair of running shoes (you could buy 70 Armbands for the price of one ROM!).

To me, this little gadget seems pretty cool. It gives a reasonably accurate measure of the calories burned in a day, which I think could be very useful information for people to have. It’s not uncommon for people to think they are more active than they really are, and this would be an excellent way to educate people on their activity patterns, as well as their energy needs. Obviously we don’t want people to obsess over the number of calories they are burning every single day, but as an educational tool I think the Armband and similar accelerometers could be quite useful.

I haven’t used the Armband myself, but I would love to try it out. If, like me, $200 is still more than you want to spend, think about picking up a pedometer at your local pharmacy or electronics supplier. If you are getting less than 10 000 steps/day on a regular basis try to increase the amount of time you spend walking, and reduce the time you spend sitting and standing. We can't all afford an Armband, but most of us can afford a little more physical activity.


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1 Response to "And now for something completely different: The GoWear Fit Armband"

  1. Buk Said,

    Another great feature of the GoWear Fit is its sleep tracking. It figures when you are lying down and when you are sleeping. Giving you a daily report of how much true sleep you got and what your sleep efficency(sleep time/lying down time) was. I wrote a recent blog entry about how much of an eye-opener it has been to my poor sleeping habits.

    Posted on March 25, 2009 at 3:49 PM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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