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Tips, Tricks and Gear Recommendations for Chicago Runners

Review: Polar Loop Wearable Device

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mike Adamle and Executive Director of CARA, Wendy Jaehn, discuss the benefits of training with a group. (Published Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014)

    Wearable activity trackers have turned into the latest must-have gadget over the past few years. While specific abilities vary from device to device, all trackers ultimately serve the same purpose: to give you an idea of your daily activity level and motivate you to move more for a healthier life.

    Polar, long known for its heart rate monitors, entered the activity tracker market last year with Polar Loop. Like other activity trackers, Polar Loop will log your basic fitness statistics-steps taken, calories burned and hours slept, but also utilizes Polar's heart rate monitor background to enhance its data collection.

    Marathon Training Tips: Group Training

    [CHI] Marathon Training Tips: Group Training
    Mike Adamle and Executive Director of CARA, Wendy Jaehn, discuss the benefits of training with a group. (Published Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014)

    Because activity trackers often rely on arm swing to give you credit for movement, some may not recognize exercises where your arms tend to remain still, such as cycling. But when paired with an optional heart rate monitor, Polar Loop notices your elevated heart rate and counts that toward your daily activity goal.

    Polar Loop is also waterproof, allowing you to wear it at all times, even if you choose to swim.

    Marathon Training Tips: Cross Training

    [CHI] Marathon Training Tips: Cross Training
    Nike master trainer Emily Hutchins discusses how putting an emphasis on strength training translates to improvements in your running stride. (Published Thursday, Jun 26, 2014)

    I enjoy health and fitness statistics, and in my experience wearing a Polar Loop for the past two months, it's given me a good idea of just how much I do or don't move.

    While my regular exercise combined with normal day-to-day movement generally hits my daily activity goal, I spend a fair amount of my day sitting, particularly during the week.

    I knew this before wearing a Polar Loop -- after all, I do have a desk job -- but seeing my statistics (available online through Polar Flow and the Polar Flow app for iPhones and Android devices), showed me how infrequently I actually move.

    Both the Polar Flow app and Polar Loop notify me when I haven't moved for more than an hour, although I've personally found the app notification more useful as I often don't see my Polar Loop lighting up to remind me to stop sitting.

    The device isn't always perfect -- I've gotten credit for over 300 steps while showering, for example -- but nevertheless, it is a useful way to gauge your personal activity trends over time.

    While a Polar Loop can't actually force you to move, it has helped motivate me to make more of an effort to get up throughout my day, even if only for a moment. As more and more evidence shows the risks of sedentary lifestyles, I like having a device that reminds me that marathon training alone doesn't counteract eight hours at a desk. I need to move throughout my day, and Polar Loop encourages me to do just that.

    The Polar Loop retails for $109.95. You can purchase it online or at any number of local retailers.

    Bethany Stripp is the editor-in-chief of Chicago Athlete Magazine. To stay up to date on everything related to running, biking and triathlons in Chicago (including Bethany’s training for her second Bank of America Chicago Marathon this fall), visit www.mychicagoathlete.com, and follow along on Facebook and Twitter.