08.12.2013Personal Tech

Guest Post: Jawbone UP Band an "Impressive" Way to Stay Motivated

color run

This is a Guest Post from Melissa Smith (left), Marketing Director of Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design. She provides a review of the Jawbone UP band in the context of preparing for a 5K run.

Some months ago, April to be exact, one of my best friends from college asked me to run a 5K. I've never considered myself a runner, so I turned her down.

Running has never been on my list of fun activities. However, my friend Maggie (above right) is an avid runner who has completed multiple 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and marathons. She always extends an invitation for me to join.

At this point, I've used just about every excuse in the book to not participate. But, this time was different. This time she was eight months pregnant with her first child and asked me if I'd like to sign up for the Lansing Color Run. She was already planning her post baby runs, the first being only two months after the baby was born! I couldn't even begin to think of an excuse good enough to compete with that, so I signed up for the Lansing Color Run-The Happiest 5K on the Planet. My first 5K ever.

A week or so into training for the run, I got the opportunity to demo the Jawbone UP band from Verizon Wireless. I had been researching fitness bands since I signed up for the race, so I jumped at the chance and, let me tell you, using the Jawbone UP while training made it that much easier.

You may be saying who trains for a 5K? It's like three miles. Well, me. I have no previous experience at doing this and I wanted to be prepared. I didn't want to just show up on race day having run here and there when time allowed, then expect adrenaline or who knows what to carry me through the race. So I trained.

I set up daily goals for both activity and sleep using the Jawbone UP band's app. It also allowed me to record my mood and food consumed, but that went beyond the scope of my needs. I am sure there are people out there who would love to utilize this feature as it can give you an even more complete picture.

As recommended, I set my goal at 10,000 steps a day. I was amazed at the number I was seeing after only one day of wearing the band.

To reach my activity goal, I would have to walk or run about three to four miles in the evening-which was good for me considering my run was getting closer and closer. When the information collected by the band is synced with the app, the data is displayed as an easy-to-read graph. You can immediately see your progress, time of the activity and intensity, so over time you get a good read on your progress.

In addition to tracking my steps, the Jawbone UP recorded my sleep patterns: how quickly I fell asleep, the number of times I woke at night, light vs. deep sleep, and how long I slept. I set the smart alarm to wake me up in the morning at the right moment in my sleep cycle (during light sleep--up to 30 minutes before the time the alarm is set for). This made me feel more refreshed. Plus, I got to ditch the loud alarm on my phone! I have to say I was a little nervous about this at first, thinking I would sleep right through the alarm, so I set one on both my phone and the Jawbone UP for a few nights. I quickly found out that I had no problem waking up to the gently vibrating band.

I also utilized the smart nap and idle alerts. I don't know about you, but I love taking a quick nap on the weekends. I find it so refreshing. When you set the Jawbone UP to the smart nap feature, it actually calculates your ideal nap length based on your sleep patterns! Who would have thought it could do that? It even has an idle alert, which I set for 45 minutes to encourage me to get up and move.

I found syncing to be a cinch. Just remove the cap on the band and plug the headphone jack into your phone.

The Jawbone UP band's battery life was fantastic. I believe I charged it three times in the month I had the band for the demo.

The only negatives were the occasional error message when trying to sync (wait for the app to open before plugging your Jawbone UP into your phone - this should eliminate the error message), and the few times when I would get the bracelet snagged onto something. While annoying, those two things paled in comparison to its marvelous performance in all other categories. Plus, it actually survived being under water for a few minutes when I took my dog out for a swim and forgot the band was on. Thank goodness it is water resistant!

Overall, I was very impressed by the band’s ability to get me motivated to run and be active--there is just something about wanting to hit the goal you set for yourself. The information is literally at your fingertips, or at least as far away as your phone, so you can't run away from it. They say information is power, and this is truly a shining example of that.

I had to give the Jawbone UP band back a few days ago and I can tell you my wrist feels like its missing something. As for my running, I'm going to keep it up. I'm planning on signing up for a hot chocolate run. It may not be The Happiest 5K on the Planet, but a run that gives you chocolate at the end isn't bad either.

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