The Bionic Man

I often have out-of-body experiences.

Not in the traditional sense where I’m looking at myself from the outside looking in, but rather I find myself looking down at my body through my own eyes and seeing my arms, legs, feet, hands, chest, organs, etc. as simply a vehicle for my mind and soul.  Weird, huh?

Normally when we think of vehicles, we immediately think of cars.  The N.A. International Auto Show is going on in Detroit right now as is does this time every year.  Each year we see that year’s latest models and think to ourselves “That’s awesome!” or “What were they thinking?”  That’s sort of how I view my and (moment of honesty) others’ human bodies.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “Hey, not bad” and other times it’s “What was or what am I thinking?!”

Just like cars, our bodies can be measured.  Not only dimensionally, but also in terms of performance and composition.  Since I’m a huge nerd and someone who views his body like a machine, I’ve acquired some interesting technology & gadgets that give me insight into my ever-changing “vehicle” and some that even make me feel like The Terminator or a bionic (part machine) man.

(All the pictures are of the items I use.)

GPS Watch w/ Heart Rate Monitor Chest Strap

This bad boy might be the most Terminator-like device that I own.  I take an elastic strap and position it around my chest when I go for a run and the strap then wirelessly transmits my heart rate to my watch.  Then, the GPS feature tells me within a foot or two where I am in the world.  Once I put my height and weight into the watch I have a virtual dashboard like you do in your car!

At any time while running, I can look at my watch and it will tell me:

  • Time of Day, Time Spent Running, Split Time
  • Distance Run
  • My current Heart Rate and Heart Rate as a % of my Max Heart Rate
  • My current Speed and also Mile Pace Time
  • Number of Calories Burned

When I get home, my watch will upload all of the data to my computer where it will also show me a map of the route I ran, the elevation I traveled, my heart rate & speed at any point and more.

The coolest thing has to be the current speed… It’s literally a speedometer like your car… If I run faster it goes up and when I run slower it goes down.  Doesn’t sound miraculous, but how often do you think about your speed in miles per hour when you’re not on a treadmill?

As an added bonus, the heart rate strap sends my heart rate data to any of the cardio machines at the gym so I don’t have to constantly hold on to the metal plates in the handles.

FitBit

This is the latest gadget that I just started wearing last week.  It’s about the size of an old-school 5-stick pack of gum and clips almost anywhere on your body or in a pocket or purse.  Outside, there is one button and a simple display.  Inside, there are accelerometers similar to a Nintendo Wii controller. I wear it on my body 24/7 and it tracks:

  • Number of Steps Taken (Resets automatically at midnight)
  • Distance Travelled (Based on height information entered online)
  • Flights of Stairs Climbed
  • Calories Burned (Based on activity level and body size)
  • Time to fall asleep, time spent sleeping, and # of times I wake up during the night

Whenever I am near the base station, it wirelessly uploads all of my data to a free website that tracks the data and trends automatically.  (Of course I can cycle through all of my current day’s data at any time by pressing the button.)

I’m a fairly active person as it is, but it still gives me the extra motivation to park farther and take the stairs even more than I already would.  Not a bad little gizmo for $99 to feed your inner-geek who wants to be healthy.

Body Fat Scale

My BMI is 25+, which means I’m overweight.  That’s according to our dumb US government health standards.  What BMI doesn’t take into account is anything besides your height and your weight, like body composition and water weight.

This gadget is pretty simple and has been around for a while.  It’s a scale that sends undetectable electric signals through your feet to show display not only how many delicious pounds you weigh, but also what % of you is fat and what % of you is water.

Right now, depending on when you measure me, my weight is floating between 177-181 and my body fat is between 15-18%.  I wonder if that’s OK by the doctors in Washington.  Either way, I feel pretty good and I think it’s cool to know more than just how hard gravity is pulling down on me when I step on a scale.

Pulse Oximeter

How much oxygen is in the air?  Go ahead, take a guess before you read any more…

 

 

It’s 20%.  Did you guess more or less?  Well, after your inhale, your lungs miraculously take the thin 20% O2 in the air and turn it into the 97-99% O2 in your blood (that is if you’re a healthy, non-smoker) needed for your brain, muscles, and organs to function.  If you have healthy functioning lungs, you’ll probably never have a need to care about your blood oxygen saturation, but if you’ve ever been to the hospital, chances are they clipped one of these bad boys on your finger tip.

In addition to telling you your blood oxygen, it also give you a very accurate pulse reading in beats per minute and the strength of each beat.  I don’t use this device a lot, but one of the best indicators of overall cardiovascular health is your resting heart rate.  My resting heart rate is about 47 lying in bed, 55 while sitting in a chair, and 65-70 while moving about.  By contrast, Lance Armstrong is rumored to have a resting heart rate in the 20’s.  I have a little way to go.

Map My Run

This is an app for your Android or iPhone.  It works a lot like the GPS watch, but it’s hard to monitor while using.  It is best for recording your walk or run, seeing your route and altitude on a map, and tracking your distance, speed, and calories.  It’s free, you just download it, open it, and press the “play” button to start recording.  It’s cool to go back and see all of your old runs and notes from the past.

Oh, and you can link your FitBit so your daily steps are automatically logged here as well.  🙂

OK, wrap it up already!

If you’re still with me, you are someone who likes technology or fitness, a huge nerd, my mom, or a combination of the above.

Just take this away with you…

  1. Occasionally, try to think about your body as your vehicle/machine.
  2. Like a car, the model “(Insert your name here)” is constantly changing.
  3. Like a car, your body and it’s movements are measurable.
  4. Incorporating technology can be a fun way to get to know your body in a new way.
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One thought on “The Bionic Man

  1. I am thankful for nerds like you that do this product research for people like me. With that being said, I believe I am going to buy a Fit Bit. I usually judge how my fitness game has improved by how many push ups I can do, pull ups (or lack there of) I can do, amount of weight I can lift, or how long I can run. I think a little piece of technology would be useful in monitoring what I do. Thank you for sharing your fascination with fitness technology! 🙂

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