Numbers Game


I’ve been using one of these new fangled tracker things over the last few weeks to some amusement – I still have not got past the shock of it vibrating away on my wrist the moment I have passed my step target (not something I would have thought about before I confess). The reason I have it is that I am interested, as I get older, in having some indications broadly as to how fit I am and whether things are working smoothly, although other than tracking the amount of movement and making a decent stab at monitoring my heart rate (I suspect at least it is accurate as the nurse who has to record it when I give platelets, I am under no illusion that it is a precision instrument) everything seems to be a rough algorithm. Like Body Mass Index then it can only be a guide to progress and not a reliable indicator of overall health.

I can see the appeal for more though and I suspect it is only a matter of time before we have sensors that will also conveniently and unobtrusively monitor blood pressure and also measure a lot of what we get blood tests for – cholesterol, various organ function measures and a one that personally interests me, blood sugar. As far as I can tell I have not yet succumbed to type II diabetes but I’m certainly in the risk zone – it runs in the family on both sides and my grandfather first went blind and eventually died of complications brought on by it.

But for the moment it feels almost like a game, this monitoring. Which I guess is what they are supposed to offer, a way of making people do more exercise than perhaps they would otherwise. Maybe, you think, I‘ll walk the long way back to my desk. After all, you don’t want to reach midnight only a few steps short of target do we?

I did miss it yesterday, but then I did not think climbing up and down the stairs a few times before bed was really necessary to get my literal ‘buzz’ of the day – even with good-natured coaxing from the Lovely Wife. But then I’m suffering from a bit of a head cold so I thought that no amount of playing the numbers game is going to make me feel any better because it is stopping me form running. Which as anyone who runs a lot will know is incredibly frustrating.

OK, I know that taking a sensible few days out to recover so I can get back in the trainers properly and safely is the right thing to do, but as is so often the case the opposite is more tempting. When the illness or injury is not bad enough to banish any thoughts of physical exercise, the temptation is to push your luck and come back as early as seems possible, but my judgement in that matter is often flawed. And as a result the setback is will take longer to heal and produce more frustration than if I had left it well alone in the first place.

But actually, it did help today. Having a step target gave me the satisfaction at least that if I cannot do the exercise I want to do there was still a target to aim at that was achievable even when I was not well which was still useful and would not put me back to square one. So hooray for the technological boost… But I want to be back in the running gear soon nevertheless.