Saturday, July 26, 2014

Polar Loop Activity Tracker Review: The Pros and Cons

I mentioned to my husband in passing that I wanted to buy an activity tracker wristband. I wasn't sure what brand to buy because there are so many options on the market. We looked at some at Best Buy, but I just couldn't make a decision, so I decided to go home and do some more research first. (i.e. ask you what you think I should buy.)

I came home from work the next day and my husband surprised me by buying each of us our own Polar Loop! I guess he made the decision for me! I was pretty excited to get started tracking.

Polar Loop Review

(The Pros) What I love about the Polar Loop:

I love that it has a screen right on the device. I can click the button anytime and see my activity level, steps, calories burned, and time. The nerd in me likes it is a digital watch too. I haven't worn a watch in years, and not a digital one since I was 10. lol

I like that it is fairly discreet. I've never had anyone ask me what it is. Either they know, or it just kind of looks like a black/silver bracelet. Hubby said he likes the sleek design.

On days I work out, I easily meet my activity goals. Maybe too easily. A 30-40 minute run will blast my goal every time. I really like it best for the days that I don't formally work out. We might take Ollie for a two mile walk, but that still isn't enough to reach my daily activity goal, so I'll find myself doing high knees in front of the TV for 15 minutes at the end of the night in order to reach my goal. I really like that boost of motivation to get in some extra movement on days that I don't work out. I never would be doing that little extra otherwise. I am a strong believer that every little bit helps. 15 minutes of high knees in front of the TV is way better than being a couch potato in front of the TV.

I like the app for iPhone because it shows my activity data (same as you can get on the computer) plus it sends push notifications on my iPhone to alert me of inactivity. If an hour goes by without any movement, it will send me a reminder to get up and get moving! I like this little push, even if it is just to get up and do a lap around the office. It keeps me from sitting for too long.

I like that the iPhone app syncs wirelessly to the band. You still have to plug it in to sync to the computer, which is fine because I need to charge it every few days anyway.

I love the friendly competition it sparks between me and hubby. We are constantly asking each other how many steps we have for the day. He always kicks my butt in the steps department, but it is still a fun competition (as I try to keep up).

I love that it gives feedback on how many hours I was sitting, standing, walking and running. I especially like the feedback regarding restful vs. restless sleep. It is interesting to see that maybe I was in bed for 8 hours, but only 5 of those were restful.

(The Cons) What could be better about the Polar Loop:

When I walked in the door from work that day that hubby bought the loops, he was sitting at the dining room table with a pair of scissors, cutting the band! "What are you doing?!?" I asked, in horror. He explains this is what you are supposed to do, you have to cut the band down to your size. I was super happy that he was doing this for me, because I would never trust myself to do it right. He is a pretty meticulous guy, and he ended up cutting his own band slightly too small. He decided to give me his small one and cut his own again. While everything turned out fine, I sort of wish the band sizing was a little easier.

It doesn't sync to my Android phone. It says on the package that it works with Android, it just didn't happen to work with my particular model Android model (that is a new model I only bought a few weeks ago). This would have a been a bigger deal, but I also have a iPhone that I get through work, so I just had to sync it up with my work iPhone. Everything on the app is pretty much the same as syncing to the computer, except the inactivity alerts. You only get the real-time inactivity alerts through the app, so if you don't have the app, you miss out on a pretty important feature. Again, it worked out for me, but fair warning to check your Android model and Google Play store to make sure you can download the app before purchasing.

It doesn't sync to my heart rate monitor, which I thought was strange, because my heart rate monitor is also a Polar brand. It is fine that it doesn't sync because the HR monitor syncs to my Nike + GPS watch. It's really not necessary that everything syncs, but it would have been nice to have the data all in one place.

The goals are not very customizable. I think the goals are set based on how you answer two questions in your profile: your typical day (sitting, standing, or moving) and your training background (regular, frequent, heavy, semi-pro, or pro).  I chose sitting (I have an office job) and frequent training. I usually have to hit just above 10,000 steps to reach my goal, which is easy to do on the days that I run.

My husband walks with Ollie twice a day (once a day in the morning and again with me after dinner), he works on his feet, runs several times a week, and is generally one of those people who can't sit still. He had to choose professional athlete as his training background in order to make the goals even somewhat of a challenge to hit. My husband, a professional athlete? He's closer to a professional beer drinker. I think it would be better if you could customize your goals.

I think that these activity trackers are geared more towards people who do not formally workout, but want to be more active and move more, which is great! But even as someone who works out regularly, I love it for the additional push to move a little bit more!

Overall, I am happy with our purchase. I think it is a great tool for additional motivation to move. The inactivity alerts (for iPhone) are super helpful to remind me not to sit too long at work, and the daily goals motivate me to move just a little more on the days that I don't work out.

What do you think? Do you have an activity tracker? Are you loyal to a particular brand? What do you think of the Polar Loop? Are you considering a purchase? Do you have any other questions for me about my Polar Loop? Leave them in the comments!

If you haven't entered my awesome EveryMove prize pack giveaway, hurry over to the giveaway post before July 29th to enter!

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  1. I have a FitBit Flex and really like it! It's easy to use and all of the data syncs to my iPhone quickly. I do wish it had a digital display to let me quickly view my progress throughout the day.
    Karen @karenlovestorun

    1. Karen, I've heard great things about the FitBit too!

  2. I've been thinking about the Polar Loop for a while too. It's good to know the pros and cons!

  3. I'm testing a new tracker right now (I can't disclose the name) but honestly, it just feels like an over glorified pedometer. It tracks how many steps you "walk" and then changes everything over into miles, calories burned (based off of your height/weight I'm guessing) and miles.

    I like how it fits on your wrist though and that it is a motivator if you didn't hit your goals that you walk or do a little bit extra work.

    I'm not sold yet haha.

  4. Lea, the reason it doesn't sync with your Polar HRM is because you need the bluetooth H7 transmitter. The H7 will pair with both your Loop and what ever model Polar you are using.

    1. Jenny, thanks for letting me know! good to know!

    2. It should pair with any bluetooth smart heart rate monitor. For many people one of the problems is that with bluetooth smart you can't pair hear rate monitor with 2 devices at same time. For me I have to turn off bluetooth from my mobile phone before my heart rate monitor pairs with the loop.

  5. I don't use these trackers but may in the future so good review!!!!

  6. I have a FitBit One and I love it. It was a gift. I probably wouldn't buy one for myself because it is a glorified pedometer, but like you said I like that it get me to 'do a little more' on my non-formal workout days. If I check and I'm low on my steps, I go for an extra walk instead of sitting on the couch.


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