At Heads Up Health, we’re always on the lookout for new technology that can help us better manage our health. When it comes to activity trackers, there’s a ton of them on the market these days. Choices run the gamut from wrist-worn devices like FitBit and Jawboneto mobile apps like Moves, GoogleFitand Apple Health. One of my personal favorites is the Misfit Shine. I’ve been using it for over a year now and here are the three reasons why I love the Misfit Shine Activity + Sleep Tracker.
The Shine runs on a watch battery. This battery has a life span of between four and six months, which means you never have to take it off for charging. With other devices, taking it off to charge means you run the risk of forgetting to put it back on and potentially missing out on a day (or more) of valuable data.
Runs on a watch battery
The Shine is completely waterproof. You can leave it on while swimming and/or showering. If it accidentally ends up going through the washing machine, chances are it will survive that, too.
MisFit Shine Review – Waterproof
Automatic sleep detection
Lastly, and most significantly, is Shine’s sleep tracking. Getting enough sleep is one of the best things you can do for overall health and longevity. However, with many activity trackers on the market, if you want accurate sleep data, you need to manually set the device into “sleep mode” before you go to bed and then take it out of “sleep mode” when you wake up. Inevitably you end up forgetting one or the other and the result is incomplete sleep data.
The Shine is able to automatically detect when you fall asleep and when you wake up. Just wear the Shine and you get good sleep data – every night! Figure 2 below shows my weekly data in the Heads Up Health Dashboard to make sure I am staying on track over the course of the week.
MisFit Shine Review – Integrating with the Heads Up Health dashboard
Misfit Shine + Heads Up Health: Better Together
Connecting your Misfit Shine to your Heads Up Health account lets you get even more value out of the device.
While the Shine comes with a fantastic mobile app, the Heads Up Health web app provides a complementary experience. For example, you can easily look at your Misfit data on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis to make sure you’re staying on track with sufficient exercise (steps) and rest (sleep). I may have occasional days with insufficient sleep or activity, but using Heads Up Health I can look back over the course of the month and ensure I am making up for lighter days.
Figure 3: Looking back over the past month to ensure I am on track with sleep
Heads Up Health also let you compare your Shine data with other health metrics, like weight, BMI, body fat percentage, blood pressure, blood sugar and even data coming from your electronic health records.
MisFit Shine Review – Tracking MisFit data alongside other health data
A Word of Caution
One caveat with the Shine is that several Heads Up Heath users — myself included — have lost the device because it fell out of the wrist strap. Losing the device is a risk with any tracker but the Shine seems especially prone to slipping out of the wrist band. That said, when I contacted Misfit support to report the issue, they gladly issued me a replacement at no charge. Kudos to Misfit for providing great customer support.
The Verdict Is. . .
Overall the Shine is an awesome device. It’s reasonably priced and comes with some great benefits. Using the Shine with your Heads Up Health account can be an even better combination. Misfit just released a new version of the Shine, which is supposed to have improved accuracy for sleep and activity tracking and we’re excited to test it out.
If you’re ready to link up your Shine with Heads Up Health, head over to our website and get started! Or to if you just want the latest from Heads Up Health, follow us on Facebook or Twitter. Lastly, if you’ve got questions about how to get started tracking your health, shoot us an email. We’re here to help!
The personal challenge feature lets you structure a block of time within the Heads Up Health software to track changes in your body over the course of a specific health experiment. Examples of how this feature can be used include:
Giving yourself a challenge to quit a certain behavior or habit (e.g. smoking, consuming alcohol, consuming sugar etc.) and observing any changes in your health (improved sleep, lower blood pressure etc.)
Tracking changes in your body (e.g. weight, body fat or BMI) while testing a new diet (Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Ketogenic etc.)
Tracking changes over the course of a vacation
Tracking the effects of a new medication or supplement
Setting up your own custom experiments and using Heads Up Health to track changes
Step 1: Create the challenge
Use the “Add Data” button and select “Personal Challenge.” In the example below, I’ve setup a custom challenge to track changes while I test aketogenic diet:
Figure 1: Create the challenge
The challenge will show up as a card on the dashboard (figure 2) and will count down the time remaining in the challenge.
Figure 2: Showing the challenge on your dashboard
Step 2: Track changes using the Analyzer
As you enter data over the course of the experiment, you can use the Analyzer to zero in on specific areas of investigation. In figure 3 below, I’ve set the date picker to show the 30 days prior (9/10/2015 – 10/10/2015) to the ketogenic diet experiment and my average fasting blood sugar was 91.5 mg/dL.
Figure 3: Changes in fasting glucose during ketogenic experiment
I then set the date picker to show when the ketogenic experiment started (10/10/15) and also show fasting glucose which has now decreased from 91.5 mg/dL to 80.3 mg/dL, just within the first week of the experiment (figure 4). The “Personal Challenge” displays a shaded area on the graph showing the duration of the challenge.
Figure 4: How the ketogenic experiment has impacted other health indicators
I can easily look at other health metrics that have changed as well such as weight, body fat, BMI or even blood chemistry (cholesterol levels, glucose, inflammation etc.). Sharing this information with your health care practitioner of choice can be very helpful when working on specific health goals.
The same techniques can be used regardless of the challenge or experiment. It could be as simple as tracking weight gain/loss over the course of a vacation or as advanced as tracking several variables as part of a new lifestyle change.
Currently it requires some manual work, changing date ranges and data sources to extract the information you want out of the Analyzer. However, in the near future we’ll be able to automaticallygenerate a report to tell you exactly what changed over the course of the experiment.
What’s the first thing you think about when you hear “mediation”? Is it the Dalai Lama? A surfer on a beautiful, exotic beach, far far away? Is it a monk or priest reaching deep to a quiet, peaceful place that regular people just can’t get to?
If you answered, “yes,” then good — you’re exactly the person who can benefit from some meditation 101. The truth is: meditation isn’t just for those people.
Who Can Benefit from Meditation?
Everyone. Yep, everyone who has just a few minutes to spare each day. Here’s how everyone can benefit:
3. Regulated blood pressure: Medication alone sometimes isn’t enough to reduce or regulate blood pressure. A small study found that 40 out of 60 participants who started meditating reduced their blood pressure and eventually reduced their medication dosage.
4. Lower the need for healthcare services (and in return, healthcare costs): A recent study found that meditation, along with other relaxation-response techniques like yoga and prayer, can reduce the need for healthcare services by 43 percent.
Meditation can help lower blood pressure
5. Better sleep: Everyone has trouble sleeping at some point. And, once you get onto the insomnia merry go round, it’s really hard to hop off. Meditation can help fight insomnia and improve sleep.
10. Regulated cortisol levels: Cortisol is a stress hormone; a hormone that can wreak havoc on your body, including interfering with learning and memory and lowering your immune system, among other things. Meditation, even in super short spurts of minutes at a time, can help lower cortisol levels.
How to Track It in Heads Up Health
If you’re a Heads Up Health user, you can use the technology to track your meditation and compare it against your other health metrics to see how your new healthy habit is making a difference. Here’s how:
Manually enter your meditation time each day. Just go to the “Add data” button at the top and select “Meditation Time” from the drop down menu. Do it right after your meditation so you know your data is accurate and up-to-date.
Track meditation in your Heads Up profile
Add it to your Dashboard.
Tracking meditation on your Heads Up dashboard
Use the Analyze function to create graphs. These graphs will show you how meditating impacts your sleep, weight, blood pressure or other health metric that you’re looking to improve.
Use the Analyzer to explore trends and compare meditation time with other data, like blood pressure
Heads Up Health Recommends
Headspace – This app acts a personal trainer for your mind and provides loads of support for a huge variety of meditation techniques, based on what you’re using it for — better sleep, increased creativity, reduced anxiety, etc . It works on your smartphone or computer.
Calm – Meditation in its most simple form. This app includes a variety of nature-inspired backgrounds and sounds accompanied by timed meditation or guided meditation. At the end, you can even share your session on Facebook.
Teachers and classes:
Meditation teachers and classes: Another great way to get started is searching for a meditation teacher who can work with you directly and provide instruction and feedback. You can also look for group training classes in your area.
Mindfulness based stress reduction: This is an 8-week course with a standardized curriculum developed by John Hopkins University. The course teaches the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation for stress reduction. In many cases you can access this training through your health insurance provider.
emWave2 – Although not technically the same as meditation, this is a handheld device designed to provide heart rhythm feedback in real time and can help you transform your physical and emotional response to stress. One of the challenges when first learning to meditate is you never know if you’re meditating properly. emwave is a great way to get some real-time feedback while you train yourself to relax using the emwave hardware and software. You can then progress into other forms of meditation if you so desire.
Empower yourself by starting meditation and tracking it in Heads Up Health. You’ll look better, feel better and sleep better. Who doesn’t want that?
Ready to start your meditation practice? Curious to see how meditation can improve your sleep, blood pressure, weight and other health stats? Sign up below to start tracking!
Recently we caught up with Todd Smith. Todd used Heads Up Health technology to discover a significant heart condition that he had been born with — and living with unknowingly all along. He told us about how he used the technology and healthcare analytics to identify this issue and take appropriate action to treat it.
Heads Up Health: So, you’re in great shape, you love taking long cycling trips and pushing your body. What happened that made you realize, “Hey, something’s not right”?
Todd: In early 2014, I went to a spin class; I was training for a ride down to Sarasota, FL. After the class, I had really bad headaches for weeks afterwards. [My doctors] did a CT scan and didn’t find anything.
So, I road down to Sarasota and on the last day of the bike ride — day five — I had heart palpitations for 24 hours. I had an echocardiogram last year and again nothing was discovered, so I didn’t think it was anything serious and neither did my doctors.
When I went to get my physical [exam], my doctor noted high blood pressure and cholesterol as potential issues and recommended a medication for hypertension. But, instead of jumping on a hypertension medication, I decided to start taking matters into my own hands.
I decided to hold off on the prescription and began collecting my own data at home including blood pressure, heart rate, sleep, activity and other lifestyle metrics. I also started tracking my own lab test results in Heads Up Health. My data led me to suspect the diagnosis from my doctor was incorrect. I sought out a second opinion from a different cardiologist and that’s when the correct issue, a genetic issue I was born with but had never been properly diagnosed.
Heads Up Health: Tell us about your experience with healthcare and your life leading up to the discovery of your heart disease.
Todd: As far as my own experience with healthcare, I’ve always been physically active. When I was in my 20s I ran marathons; I ran the New York City Marathon twice, plus the Los Angeles Marathon. After having some knee trouble, I dialed back from that and got into cycling. I even rode my bicycle coast to coast. I have a long bucket list I’d like to accomplish of other bicycle rides, too.
Heads Up Health: How did you feel after your diagnosis? What did you do?
Todd: I’ve continued to track my own health very closely using Heads Up Health’s solution. I’ve finally found the right specialist, which has ultimately led me to the right healthcare treatment. I was nervous about the outcome, but I’m confident that I have control over it. My hope is to jump right back onto the bucket list and cross things off.
Heads Up Heath: How do you use the Heads Up Health technology?
Todd: I have the Withings wireless blood pressure monitoring cuff to track my blood pressure and pulse rate. I use a FitBit to track my sleep and physical activity. Both of these devices are connected to my Heads Up Health account. I manually enter my BMI, weight, body water and muscle mass into my Heads Up account about once a week.
Blood pressure tracking with Heads Up Health
As someone that’s super busy, I’ve used Heads Up Health’s Concierge Service to help me get all of my clinical data (labs, medication history, conditions, etc.) into my profile. I can now track all of my medical data alongside all of my daily lifestyle data and share this with my doctor as needed.
Heads Up Heath: How did this whole experience — between the Heads Up Health technology and interaction with healthcare providers — make you feel confident about being in control of your health?
Todd: I think the analogy is, you’re becoming the driver of your own healthcare, as opposed to a passenger. Especially when you have a tool like [Heads Up Health]. I feel very confident about my situation. I don’t feel like I’m in the dark; I feel like I have control, and that’s pretty cool.
Other issues could crop up as I get older — I’m 45 — but hopefully I’ll be able to make decisions quickly, especially seeing trends over time. The more information you have, the more you have to make decisions to take care of yourself.
Heads Up Heath: OK last question. Based on your personal experience, what’s the one piece of advice you would offer others who are on a similar journey toward health transformation?
Todd: My one piece of advice is that people should take 100% control of their own health, instead of relying on hurried, overburdened healthcare providers. At the end of the day, I know that no one has a more vested interest in my health than I do. Far too many people place some sort of mystical trust in doctors, and the fact of the matter is they’re human, they make mistakes and overlook things, and they’re really taught to be reactive instead of preventative.