I have been meaning to write a post about the ActiveLink for AGES now, but it’s better late than never, right!? Full disclosure, as a Weight Watchers Leader, I did receive an ActiveLink for free to try out before they were out in meeting rooms, but that doesn’t influence how I feel about the thing.
So what is ActiveLink?
ActiveLink is an activity monitor that you wear all day long. It measures movement from side to side, front to back, and up and down, as well as acceleration, so it goes well beyond a pedometer. As you can see in the photo above, it’s a USB, so you plug it directly into your computer to import all the activity data. You can wear the monitor clipped to your chest, loose on a necklace (!?), clipped to your belt, or in your pocket. You wear it all day long except when you’re sleeping and it is waterproof so you can even wear it in the shower (which I have NOT done). I usually wear mine attached to my bra, or else clipped to my top if I’m working out.
When you plug it into your computer to import the data, you get feedback on how many minutes of moderate activity and high intensity activity you’ve done that day (separately), as well as a bar graph showing how much you’ve moved each hour of the day.
So what do I think of it?
I absolutely LOVE, love, love the ActiveLink. One of the key ways that it works is that you have to hit your activity baseline before you earn any activity points, which the old system of tracking points doesn’t account for. The idea is that the personalized daily target of points is based on doing a certain amount of activity we should be doing anyway without getting credit or extra ActivityPoints for. We’re supposed to be moving 5 minutes per hour while we’re awake WITHOUT earning any extra points, and then anything we do beyond that is where we earn extra points that we can then eat.
So basically, I have to hit this activity baseline before I earn any extra activitypoints to eat. As you probably know, I am pretty self motivated when it comes to working out, but it has really changed the way i go about the rest of my day and makes me move so much more.
A good example is that sometimes I’ll go on a run in the morning for 3 or 4 miles, and I won’t earn any points! At first, that was so annoying, but then I realized all those miles went towards hitting my baseline, and every single thing i did from then on out during the day would earn me points. It made me want to walk an extra loop around the block, take two trips from the car, get up often during the work day, and earn points just from walking to/from anywhere.
I’m lucky that I live in a city so I move a lot more just by virtue of walking everywhere, and now I feel like I get “credit” for everything, which I like. For example, sometimes I’ll opt to walk rather than drive/metro to somewhere that’s about 2 miles away, just to get in extra movement. Before, I wouldn’t have entered this as activity since I didn’t break a sweat, but now that I’m wearing the ActiveLink it accounts for that movement on top of everything else.
One other way it has changed the way I move throughout the day is that I am more aware of standing still. Like, if I’m microwaving my oatmeal at work, rather than standing there staring blankly at the microwave, I’ll walk around the kitchen or back to my desk. Same thing if I’m waiting for an elevator or doing something else where I am idle.
What are the downsides?
Honestly, not much. The device itself costs $39.95 which is a LOT cheaper than other similar things. You do have to agree to $5/month to keep it active and connected to your eTools, but that doesn’t seem like a lot to me considering how easily I can throw around $5. The one thing that is annoying but temporary is that when you first start wearing it, you have to do an 8 day assessment. During this time, you go about your regular activity and then at the end it gives you a summary of how active you are and sets a goal for you to work towards over the next 12 weeks in the form of an ActiveLink Challenge. During this 8 day assessment, you get no feedback on your movement and don’t “earn” any activity points! It was so annoying to not earn a single point that first week even though I was working out regularly, but that is only for the first 8 days so it’s not the end of the world.