Technology

New year, new you... new fitness band

woman jumping in sea Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It may be the middle of winter in the UK but this is how I hoped my fitness band would make me feel

I'm determined that 2015 is going to be my year to finally get fit.

But I am not the sort of person who can easily resist eating chocolate and/or sitting on the sofa, so I've invested in something to help me keep my eye on the ball.

I'm going back to basics and writing this on the eve of day three of having a fitness band attached to my right wrist.

It informs me that today, among other things, I have walked 9,080 paces and burned 709 calories.

It even gave me a little technicolour fanfare in honour of my athletic achievement - I'm assuming it isn't capable of sarcasm.

I'm a little dubious as it seemed to record 600 steps between my bedroom and the shower this morning, and frankly the entire house and garden isn't that big - but if it's a glitch, it's a glitch in my favour so I'm happy not to dwell on it.

Losing Luke

On Day One my main task was recalibrating the device - it's a premium-priced product so I got mine second-hand from an auction site.

This involved creating yet another online profile in order to convince my new accessory that I am no longer a 90kg (198.4lb) man called Luke.

Mission accomplished - or so I thought. I decided to take a long walk to really put it through its paces, dragging the family out with me.

A few hours later, following both the walk and an exhausting session running around after a pair of excited toddlers in a not-so-local park, I was horrified to discover that I hadn't even burned off the Brussels sprouts I had had with my Christmas lunch.

Pushing a buggy with both hands, it turns out, even for more than three miles, does not register movement on the pedometer because you're not swinging your arms. That was lesson number one.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption This probably wouldn't count either

Poor effort

On Day Two I clocked up a respectable activity profile but disaster struck when I attempted to sync the device. The ghost of Luke was still in the machine, it seemed. A repeated "communications failure" left me with no choice but to do a factory reset.

I lost my entire score.

After the reset I walked a few paces before attempting to sync it again, as a test. Of course this time it worked perfectly, giving me a daily score of four steps. I'm supposed to hit 10,000.

The app helpfully gave me a graph to indicate just how poor my effort was.

"How other women your age got on today," was on the right-hand side, a big, solid chunk of activity and well-being. "How you got on," was on its left, a tiny little flat pancake of shameful slothery.

"Why not share this with your friends?" the app asked, helpfully providing a myriad of buttons linking me to all the big social media platforms.

I can't repeat my exact response. Needless to say swearing at a fitness band does not improve your score.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Is this exercise?

New tricks

This brings me to Day Three. While I'm tentatively enjoying the process of monitoring my progress and my ego has been thoroughly stroked with the appreciative light show I received after 9,000 paces, I'm also starting to get a bit obsessed with it.

I want to check it all the time. I'm trying to catch it out - does it count when I lift my hand to drink tea, or chop vegetables?

My partner keeps asking me why I'm looking at the time so often. I'm starting to question whether I'm monitoring it more than it is monitoring me.

I'm also now wondering about my heart rate and blood pressure. Would it be sensible to track that too? My heart hasn't let me down yet. But now I'm wondering how I can possibly know that for certain.

It's not exactly a reassuring thought.

Baby steps

Shortly after the birth of my first child I visited a friend who had invested in a monitoring device for her baby's cot. She invited my son to take his nap on it.

It was the longest sleep of my life, if not his. Every time he paused for breath, or twitched a limb, something beeped on the monitor, sending me running up the stairs.

My fitness band would have had a field day, but by the time the baby woke up I was a nervous wreck.

Image copyright zoe kleinman
Image caption The baby didn't seem that bothered about his health being monitored

One of the big themes of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year - which begins in Las Vegas next week - and indeed the tech scene in general, is health monitoring. Everything from your hosiery to your headphones seems set to want to make sure you're in good shape.

It sounds like fun, but is the infrastructure reliable enough? It was irritating to reset my fitness band because of a glitch but would I feel so blasé about a heart monitor - or the call from my GP if the data was eventually synced with health professionals, as some tech firms propose?

Time will tell whether we are ready to have our every neural impulse recorded and tracked. It could of course save countless lives. But on the other hand, perhaps life is truly too short.

There's a famous quote, attributed to various sources, often somebody called Shing Xiong although nobody seems certain.

"In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took," it goes.

"But how many moments took your breath away."

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