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fitness tracking applications

Jawbone UP review - Discovering my own inconvenient truth

02 Oct 2013
Mark Headshot


amaysim's digital stuffologist

Howdy, it’s Ric here.

A few weeks ago Seph, the digital guy, asked me if I’d review the Jawbone UP. To give you some context, Paul’s a fitness fanatic. He was keen to get a few different opinions on the UP, including one from someone who was an “every day person who doesn’t do much sport.”

At first I was a tad insulted. Then my mind went through a series of realisations from “What’s Paul talking about - I’m really athletic?” to “Well, maybe not as athletic as I could be – the last time I went to the gym was three months ago… I used the mirrors to get ready for a night out.”

And so my journey with the UP began.

So, what’s the Jawbone UP?

The UP is a band you wear on your wrist that allows you to track your movement, sleep and what you eat. The idea is that by being more aware of your body and how you use it, you can change bad habits and improve your health.

The UP works like a fancy pedometer, counting your steps and monitoring your movement throughout the day. Plugging the UP into your mobile through its headphone jack syncs the two devices. Your step and sleep information is stored in the UP app, and updates about your movements are sent to your UP contacts (I’ve only got three – Paul and Hayden who are also reviewing the Jawbone UP for amaysim, and my aunt).

You can then graph different types of data against one another – like hours slept vs water consumed – to see if there might be a correlation between the two.

My own inconvenient truth

I walk to and from the amaysim office each day (around 3kms each way), so although I don’t do as much organised sport as I could, I do still have quite an active lifestyle.

One of my first surprises when using the UP was that (disappointingly) I don’t need to be eating nearly as much food as I do. Whenever you pick up a food packet it often tells you that the average person needs to eat between 8,000 and 8,500 kilojoules a day. I assumed that walking at least 6kms a day would have put me at the upper end of that estimate.

Alas, the UP told me that on a typical day when I walk to and from work but don’t do any other organised exercise, I only burn around 7,200 kilojoules. Ouch.

Finding this out has made me way more aware of what I eat. Being able to see how much energy Paul and Hayden use compared to me has also really increased my awareness around the different energy requirements of men and women.

I was always kind of proud that I could eat more than Sam, my partner, but now I’ve realised that I should be opting for smaller portion sizes than him (especially as he’s a long distance runner and I’m not).

What I learnt from using the Jawbone UP

Don’t assume you know how much food you should be consuming – I didn’t.

Not all steps are created equal – Often I take more steps than the other amaysim guys testing the UP, but mine are predominantly walking while they run. Walking’s great, but if you want to up your energy expenditure (be it to get fitter, to lose weight or because you just want to eat more), running could be more effective.

It all adds up – I set my movement goal at 12,000 steps a day. As part of my daily routine I walk around 11,000. Whether or not I make my goal is affected by small things, such as walking to get lunch and taking the stairs over the escalator. If you’re trying to move more, every little bit helps.

Clearly I'm no health expert though, so you know the drill - if you're looking to change your diet or take up a new sport, always have a chat with your doctor first.

So, over to you – how aware are you about your body? Have you used any apps that calculate your movement, like UP, perhaps Moves (it’s an iPhone / Android app) or even Map My Run? What did you find out that you didn’t already know?