Thursday, September 18, 2014

Walking with the GPS

After getting settled with my new mobile phone, I realised that I could probably use an Android app which would measure the distance and time of my evening power walk. So I downloaded something called 'MapMyWalk', entered some initial definitions then started walking. When I came home, I looked at the results and discovered that I had walked 0 km in 40 minutes. Obviously something was wrong.

I rationalised this by suspecting that the GPS was having difficulty in discerning my movements, considering that I was effectively 'walking around the block', a distance which might be beyond the powers of the GPS to resolve. I deleted the app from my phone (thus learning how to delete unnecessary apps).

A few days later, I was riding in a car with someone who also received a new phone (although this one replaced an earlier smartphone); he was using Waze to discover the fastest route home from Tel Aviv that day (and just as well he did because we avoided a traffic jam which could easily have added 30 minutes to our travel time). The first thing that he did was activate the GPS on the mobile phone.

The penny dropped: I had to activate the GPS before the walking app would work. It seems painfully obvious in retrospect, but I had assumed that the app was capable of turning on the GPS by itself and had actually done so. 

So last night I downloaded the app again, turned on the GPS and set off for my walk. I have to walk about 100 metres before I get to my starting point; I use this time to warm up. Coming back, I turned the app off when I reached the end point instead of waiting till I got home. Whilst this means that the distance walked will be slightly wrong, I will get a better indication of what was happening during the power walk itself. Whilst I was walking, I vaguely heard the phone 'talking' to me but I didn't catch what was being said.

At home, I looked at the screen and discovered that I had walked 3.38 km in 32:39 minutes at a pace of 9.4 mins/km (or more familiarly, 6.38 km/hour) and had burned 255 calories. I think that the calorie total is misleading as the walk isn't intended primarily to burn calories but rather to get the metabolism moving and that the total calorie count will be higher. I'm surprised that I was walking so fast as I start off fairly slowly (at least for me; I've always been a fast walker) and I know what 6 km/hour is like on the treadmill.

Now that I have some data, I can track my progress. I've discovered that I can also access this data via the app's website which is much easier than via the phone, and that I can get a weekly activity report sent to my email address.

Incidentally, I weighed myself last Friday morning - 79.2 kg. I walked on Friday and Saturday night and also swam 16 lengths on Saturday morning. My weight on Sunday morning was 78.7 kg, which is almost a record. I hope that I can keep my weight below 79 kg - if not lower. I also did a blood test on Sunday and my cholesterol levels are getting lower: "cholesterol" is now 171 mg/dL, triglycerides 154 mg/dL and HDL 42 mg/dL.

No comments: