Polar Fit heart rate monitor: Feeling the burn

Around 43% of men and 33% of women are overweight. That means at least a third of you need to do more exercise, and there’s an almost even chance that I do, too. Don’t fret, however: Polar, manufacturer of heart-rate monitor watches, is here to help.


Introduced to us as, “the perfect solution for those who want to give loved ones the gift of motivation”, what Polar don’t know about romance is made up for in heart-rate knowledge. One killer feature is the watch’s unique EnergyPointer, which visually indicates whether the main effect of your training is fitness improvement or fat burning.

It uses heart rate variability to calculate the centre point between the two training effects. When the heart rate is below the point, the user is improving their fat burning; above it, aerobic fitness. It a simple solution, but vitally important for people unaccustomed to the intricacies of weight loss and exercise.

The watch also keeps track of how many calories are burnt each session, which can then be uploaded onto your computer to track your progress. If you grab the optional Polar FlowLink data transfer unit, you can even upload your details onto the net. Here there’s a whole world of functionality: interact with other active people, analyze training results, see your training load status, and get online training guidance. It’s like a Facebook for Fitness.

The chest strap that monitors the heart-rate is individually coded, which means data sent to your watch is definitely your own – the device won’t accidentally receive crossover information from other exercisers.

To complete the service, Polar offers downloadable training plans, so even the most inexperienced exerciser can get started with expert advice.

Aside from all this, the watches actually look pretty cool. In either red and silver or red and black, the hexagonal pattern makes you feel totally Tron. Awesome.

Available now for £93.50.

Philips DirectLife Activity Monitor: Fighting flab with gadgetry

I freely admit it – I weigh a little more than I’d like to. And unlike a reasonable number of tech journalists I’ve met (naming no names) I actually try to keen the pounds off. Countless salads for lunch (not in one sitting, that would be counter-productive), repeated shunning of donuts and countless gym classes. And yet the flab remains. Moping around the office, listlessly poking at my spare tyre I got an email from iGlobalFitness asking if I’d like to look at the Philips DirectLife
Activity monitor – the device they use with their Personal Weight Management Programme and the Stay Active Challenge. After an initial wave of paranoia (how did they know a tech journalist would be overweight?) I thought I’d take a look.


As my more muscly buddies at the gym keep telling me, sustained weight loss is gained by a bit of basic math (burning more calories than you consume) and by consistent sustained changes to your lifestyle. There is no point dropping a kilo in March only to revert to your bad habits and pile it all back on in April.

A combination of these two simple rules is employed by the iGlobalFitness’ Personal Weight Management Programme but with the added magic of technology.

1.         Your iGlobalFitness Wellness Facilitator will meet with you face to face to review your current wellness status and set realistic goals in four areas: lifestyle, health, exercise and nutrition.

2.    iGlobalFitness will provide you with a clever little gadget known as the DirectLife activity monitor which, along with your own online Personal Activity Coach, will support you to be more active on a  daily basis.

3.         You will meet with your Wellness Facilitator every three months to measure your progress, get personalized advice and set more challenging targets.

4.    Your Wellness Facilitator will ‘nudge’ you via email, text or phone between sessions to keep you motivated.

5.    At the end of the programme you can delight in your success of creating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle, or you can extend your programme and challenge yourself to get into even better shape.

The little DirectLife activity monitor is shaped like a small pebble and can be hooked to a belt loop, worn as a necklace type thing or just popped in your pocket. Recording all your activity throughout the day it’s a really helpful reminder that sitting still all day doesn’t help with weight loss and encourages … well not quite fidgeting but regular bursts of activity. And the ability to look over data coupled with regular online sessions with a personal trainer combine knowledge with convenience. There is even a Stay Active Challenge where you can compete against internet people or your friends/co-workers.

So would I recommend it? Depends on how you respond to motivation really. If you like the idea and convenience of being able check your activity throughout the day and respond to a constant supply of data then it’s worth a look. As will all weight-loss things – you can just still to the simple rules above and have a bit of self-discipline – saving yourself a bit of money. But if that fails you (like it does me) then this is a neat high-tech alternative.

www.stayactivechallenge.com has now officially launched and is £50 per person to take part.