By Chris Hague
Tri Swim Coach
There are two growing trends in health: young millennials are becoming more interested in quantifying their body and older baby boomers are becoming more concerned about their health.
The former, also called “body hacking,” aims to optimize the body and performance by exploring its hidden intricacies and then putting a number on it so that it can be tracked, monitored, and thus improved. Looking at the success of activity trackers like the Vivofit and Jawbone, optical heart rate monitors, and even glucometers and ketone monitors for recreational trackers shows that people want to learn more about their bodies in an effort to optimize performance and, to steal a phrase from the king of biohackers, Dave Asprey, “upgrade” and “bulletproof” their bodies.
The latter trend is just as interesting and strong. Baby boomers (and their concerned children) are looking more and more to new technology to track health and thus look for indicators of problems before they arise. They are turning to DIY metrics to provide their health care providers with more health information. Just look at the new health apps and devices that can send information digitally to nurses and doctors and instantly warn them if a red flag, like low body temperature, heart rate, or high glucose, arrises.
For a while, both of these groups have been looking for “one device to rule them all” and provide all the numbers you would like in one place. The BodiMetrics Performance Monitor wants to fill that niche.
The Monitor is about the size of a credit card and as thick as a cell phone but weighs just 3oz.
The sleep mode displays the time and date with the battery level in the lower right hand corner. Depending on how long and how much you use it, the battery life can last up to three months or if you use it more frequently, especially with the step tracker, a few days.
Once you hit the awake/home button, you see the home screen with the different test that you can do: heart activity (Heart rate monitor), temperature, pulse oximeter, relax me, and Body Check, which does it all including systolic blood pressure. When you swipe right, the second page shows the pedometer mode, reminders, bluetooth connectivity, reports and settings.
The BodiMetrics Performance Monitor can track:
- Heart Rate- by placing your hands on three of the sensors you get a near complete EKG reading in about 20s
- Temperature- Place a sensor on your temple and have a reading in 3 seconds which is much faster than standard devices
- Oxygen Saturation- Put one finger into the top sensor and see how much oxygen your blood is circulating
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV) (through the “Relax Me” mode) and Relaxation Score- Follow a given breathing pattern to see how relaxed you are and how your heart is responding to that
- Blood Pressure- When you run the “Body Check” it gauges systolic blood pressure at the same time
- Remind you to take medication or do a relaxation check-always good to do especially in a busy lifestyle.
- Steps- just like on a vivofit but since it is in your pocket, it gives a more accurate reading.
- Rate Pressure Product-(RPP) (more on this in a bit)
It can then push all this data to your smart phone app so that you (or trusted advisors, coaches, or significant others) can look for trends.
So how does this relate to swimming and Tri Swim Coach?
When it comes to athletics and athletic performance, the more you know about your body, and in particular how it reacts to training and external stress the better. Getting faster and fitter is all about stress management: applying more stress when your body can handle that and reducing that stress when your body cannot. The way you know when and how to do this is looking at all of the above metrics as one piece of interrelated information.
It used to be that you could just look at heartrate as a measure of health and the lower the better. HRV then became the better metric because it looks at the “flexibility” and “systolic” of your heart as well as stress and recovery. Now, with RPP, which is your HRV multiplied by blood pressure, you can track or monitor any irregularities in your heart rate rhythm and its responsiveness. A low number would indicate that you are overworking, under recovered, or both. When paired with the pulse oximeter reading, you get an even better picture of what your body is doing.
With an increase in swim related deaths in triathlon–mostly due to heart irregularities and heart health problems–it is becoming increasingly important to know your numbers, which the Bodimetrics can definitely help with.
Overall, I found the monitor very helpful and accurate. With the small, light size it fit easily into my pocket and went unnoticed throughout the day while I was walking around tracking my steps until it reminded me to take a stress test or pop my multi vitamin. The relaxation test itself in which you inhale and exhale on command made me focus on my breath and let go of stressful thoughts or situations. The stress reading that it gives out were not exactly the same as other HRV readings but that is to be expected because other tests like SweetBeat and the app on my Garmin 920xt have different algorithms to generate their own number. The BodiMetrics calculates HRV based on the EKG waveforms which is much more reliable and accurate than algorithms using Heart Rate.
The other readings, however, were fairly similar. My pulse aligned with my Garmin’s HR strap, and even without a cuff, the blood pressure readings were in line with the blood pressure cuff monitor that I have. It did take a while to figure out where to position my hands over the sensors, and it still takes a few tries to get the position just right.
The RPP was interesting to follow and track with my training. The day after really stressful days or long hours on the bike or run, it would go down but on recovery days it would bounce back up.
The temperature reading was about .5 degrees off from my under the tongue reader.
Two functions that I wish it had are a blood glucometer and a sleep tracker. With those it really would one all in one body hack.
None of these features, with the exception of RPP, is special by itself–there are apps and devices to do each one individually–but it is incredibly helpful and convenient to put them all together and see the relationship between the numbers and that is the true benefit of the BodiMetrics Performance Monitor.