Sunday, 12 November 2017

New! Fitbit data (and some symptom updates)

Earlier in the year I got myself a fitbit (part of a gift from work to celebrate my working there for 20 years). If you dont know, this is a watch with a motion detector and a heart-rate detector. It allows me to track how active I am and how well I sleep (among other things). The data tracks over time. I'm hoping to be able to use it as another monitor for the slow progress of HSP.

So, first things first, what am I tracking?

  • Steps per day (along with distance & height)
  • Exercise/activity levels
  • Heart-rate
  • Sleep levels

I've got in my personal data spreadsheet various columns which track these things on a weekly basis. I'm hoping to be able to use this data in parallel with the data from strava ( and from patientslikeme ( and see if there are any trends. Perhaps between level of activity and fatigue

After looking at the first few months worth of data I note:

Stretching time - I hadn't been accurately timing the overall duration of my stretches. As I have been going to the physio regularly various extra stretches have been added in to my routine, and I had mentally chalked this up as "10-15 mins". However, using fitbit my typical stretching session is about 8-9mins. If I'm in a rush I'm in the 5-6mins and sessions over 10mins are unusual (for now).

Heart-rate - two things to note here. Firstly, my heart rate when walking goes up higher than my heart rate when cycling, which perhaps suggests that walking requires more effort than cycling. Also my resting heart rate goes up for a few days after I've consumed a fair bit of alcohol. Resting heart rate doesn't appear to be related to my level of exercise. Overall, the walking update is that I feel a bit slower now, and walking is beginning to require a bit more effort to do. I used to be a quick walker, and now I'm heading towards the slow end of normal/typical walking speeds. I notice this the most when I'm walking with other adults rather than out with my kids.

Stair counting - My fitbit counts number of flights of stairs climbed, which it does through sensing the change in air pressure. This is one of the aspects that I find frustrating as the count is not always accurate, and so sometimes I'll have gone up more flights of stairs then the fitbit says. My 'fix' for this is to raise my hand up in the air when I get to the top of the stairs and this normally registers the climb. I find that stair climbing is beginning to get more tricky - a bit slower, and having to use the banister. I expect that it will get more tricky as time goes on, so every step counts!

Step counting - This is generally good. As the watch is worn on the wrist it gets is step count by detecting the motion of the wrist rather than actually counting steps. So, it doesnt work well when I push a supermarket trolley around a supermarket for example, which leads me to suspect that a fitbit wouldn't work work well for someone with a walking frame. On the other hand, I can get quite a bit step count from doing tasks like unloading the dishwasher or ironing clothes, so for me I'm using step count as a measure of activity level rather than specifically a count of the number of steps I've taken. Having said that I've set myself a daily step target, and if I'm close to it at the end of the day I'll just a few more steps to get to the target or to the next badge level. (

Toilet counting! Fitbit can remind/nag you take 250 steps per hour, to avoid staying stationary for long periods of time ( At work I find that if I use the toilets that are not nearest my desk then a round trip is just over 250 steps. I find that once an hour is about right for urinating. Worth noting that I'm not desperate to go after an hour, so I'm going to the toilet more frequently than my bladder demands, and sometimes I'm in meetings or on telephone calls that are more than an hour in length without a problem. but it helps to understand how often I'm going. If my calls/meetings get on for about 2 hours long then I do need to go, urgently!

When it comes to my end of year review next month I'll work out what new health tracking stats i want to add to my symptoms tracker - I have more than a full year of bike/strava data already. On this front, there are a few alterations to my usual routine as well. Back in April I began going out for more leisure/social bike rides as well as my regular commute, so the first third of the year has shorter distances than the second two thirds. I suspect I'll need a graph to see if there are any trends.

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