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Matt Dorey

A bird is sitting on the grass with a kite

UP and about?

I have spent almost four weeks with my new UP band and — inspired by this article — I am thinking about whether it has changed my behaviour or not. Obviously I haven’t gone into it very scientifically, as I have just been enjoying the gadget for what it is: a wristband that makes a record of what I do.

First, I should explain what behaviour I wanted to change. I think that I generally get enough exercise, at least when I work to and from work each week day. That alone allows me to walk in the region of thirty kilometres each week and I am pretty happy with that. I have not tried the capabilities of the band for measuring more strenuous activities (although it does seem to think that I go for a jog most nights at about eleven thirty that lasts about five to eight minutes). I think I will use my phone and Runkeeper for measuring my running when I resume, any day now I promise.

The UP band also measures quality of sleep and this is something that I am very interested in. I also use an app called Sleep Cycle to measure my sleep and was intrigued to see whether the results of the band and the app would tally and the answer is yes, they certainly seem to (the band is definitely more accurate though). In recent weeks my sleep has appeared to get better, however I am currently on holiday and I do wonder whether I might slip back to a more sleep deprived routine once I go back to work.

The UP band’s iPhone app also allows for diet monitoring, though as this is somehow magically discerned (by mechanical turk?) from a photo I am not sure how precisely it can judge the nutritional content of what I am eating. My wariness of the app’s accuracy and my fear of just how bad my diet is (enough sugar to make a hummingbird diabetic — well, not really…) have kept me from that side of things so far. This means that the band has had zero impact on my behaviour there. However, I think in order to continue sleeping well I will have to get more exercise and eat better as all three things are inextricably linked. Perhaps the band is only beginning to do its job, by identifying the side of that triangle that matters most to me.

Moreover I’ve also been keeping a close eye on my weight and it is quite stable. Stable, but too high by a fair way, so that does need to be addressed. Obviously I still need to make some longer term changes. The band has been helpful in measuring the status quo, it will be interesting to see whether it can assist in the longer term changes that need to be made.

(Finally a brief note on the history of the band: I had one of the first generation bands that failed very early on its life. I received a full refund and this band was the same price as the last one. For now it is holding up very well, there are far fewer occasions when the band won’t sync — in fact I think I have learned what causes synching to fail — and the battery life is holding up very well. Also the wake up vibration never worked in my previous band, so it was a genuine shock to be woken up by it!)

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