Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The effects of my Amazfit Band 5

with 6 comments

The Eldest gave me an Amazfit Band 5, which works with iPhone or Android phone — I have an iPhone, so that’s the aspect I know. I’ve been wearing it since 15 February, so 9 days now. It took me a few days to work out how it works and how to use it. Some lessons learned:

  • It won’t track a workout as a workout unless you select it under the “Workout” function on the watch. It can track various types of workouts (bicycling, running, elliptical trainer, and so on), but the only one I use is “Walking (outdoors).” It will track your steps and the effort you expend (Physiological Activity Indicator — PAI — measures that) even if you don’t select “Workout,” but it won’t (for example) map your route and gather statistics on the workout, as it will do if you select the Workout activity.
  • It’s much easier to start and stop the workout using the phone app than trying to use the controls on the Amazfit Band 5 itself. I have an iPhone and “Walking” is listed under “Tools” if you scroll down. You can set what is listed in this section, so you can include your own exercise of choice.
  • I found that if I put the iPhone in my shirt pocket so that its screen faces my chest, the pressure on the screen as I walk will activate various responses and interrupt the readings. It’s important, it turns out, that the back of the phone is against my chest, with the (touch-sensitive) screen facing out.
  • If you tap the 4-leaf clover at the upper right of the home screen, you can enter your blood glucose readings and weight. For some glucose meters and scales, it will automatically import the data.
  • You can adjust display brightness (the initial setting was too dim for me) and duration (initial setting was too brief). On the device: More > Settings > Brightness (or duration).
  • Using this thing resulted in my walking more and the walks becoming easier.
  • PAI points are awarded based on exercise heart rates for your age and sex (click your age in the table to see the ranges). I have been disappointed on some long walks by finding that I earned only 6 PAI. I discovered that I can bump up the PAI score a lot by beginning my walk by going uphill. It doesn’t have to be steep, just a rising incline. That quickly raises my heart rate, and once my heart rate is going, I can maintain it just by walking briskly (say, 3.4-3.5 mph, though I use Nordic walking poles and that probably helps with the heart rate). A relatively short walk today garnered 38 PAI points. And in this post you can see a chart that shows altitude along the walk. Note that only the first part of the walk is uphill; the rest is downhill or flat. Obviously, take your age and condition into account (for example, in how long you spend on that initial uphill surge), but getting your heart rate going does seem to be the secret.. (Now, of course, it’s no longer a secret. 🙂 ) I will add that as I accumulate more 100-PAI days, my heart rate is less easily increased.
  • Recently the Amazfit would not connect to the iPhone app. The problem was easily resolved by rebooting the Amazfit. On the Amazfit, scroll to More > Settings > Reboot and select that. The Amazfit immediately rebooted and reconnected.
  • My Amazfit Band 5 in the last couple of workouts (Walking Outdoors) has been pausing the workout. Sometimes it will restart on its own, sometimes I have to restart it. Highly irritating. Thanks to Google, I found that Auto-Pause is a feature, on by default, and that it can be turned off. When you have the Activity display visible, “Settings” are accessed by tapping or pressing the tiny little gearwheel at the top of the Activity display on the Amazfit. When you scroll down the available settings, you’ll see Auto-Pause and can turn it off.
  • I found that often the Amazfit Band 5 would record a pulse rate that was unreasonably low. For example, a walk that earned 37 PAI one day would on the following day earn only 4 PAI — for the same route, distance, and speed. The original instructions said to wear the Band 5 one finger-width above the wrist, but an email from Amazfit Band 5 support said that wear it two finger-widths above the wrist. When I did that, I got readings that seemed much more reasonable.

The Amazfit Band 5 has clearly motivated me to resume walking. The PAI statistic is interesting. It is a computed value, and as you become more fit, you must expend more effort to get the same PAI score. This is important because the idea is to maintain a PAI of at least 100 as the cumulative total of the most recent 7 days. Thus you can take a day off or have a light day and still maintain a cumulative PAI of at least 100 for the 7-day period. 

Above are a couple of screenshots from my walk on March 18, 2022. I nowadays walk about 2.5 miles, since I’ve found that is adequate to maintain my PAI above 100, particular if I begin the walk going uphill, as I did with the walk above. That walk earned 72 PAI (and also tired me out). My shorter walks get a PAI of 20-40. I’m not sure of why the variance, but I expect some of it is walking speed, though I stick pretty closely to 3.5 mph. I do use Nordic walking poles. They make the walk more pleasurable and a more complete exercise (since they involve using arms and upper back) and result in no perceptible increase in effort — in fact, the walk seems easier with the poles, although in fact I burn about 20% more calories. (More information at that link.)

One contributing fact to the amount of PAI earned is whether I’ve had some time off. Even a couple of days of not walking makes the first walk day get more PAI points.

Obvious and immediate effects

1) I am sleeping better — not up in the middle of the night, sleeping through and sleeping more soundly. — update June 20, 2022: sleep markedly improved (as measured by Amazfit) after my pacemaker was installed. 

2) My fasting blood glucose is now running well below its previous readings. My 90-day average is 6.3 (114 mg/dL), but my 7-day average (this past week) is 5.7 mmol/L (103 mg/dL). I had experienced earlier how regular walking improved blood-glucose readings, but still it’s nice to see that it still works.

3) I really look forward to my walks — now that in part is because it feels good and I enjoy the post-walk glow, but initially it was just the appeal of the map. 🙂 I also enjoy that I can just strike out on a new route and get information on distance and speed.

4) I don’t sit in my chair so much. After a period of inactivity (an hour), the watch buzzes and displays the message “You’ve been sitting for too long,” and then I get up to move around — in practice, I do some household chore, so it’s all to the good.

5) Not directly an effect of the walks, but related: I have begun to have one meal as a smoothie using a segment of raw turmeric root (and, of course, some freshly ground black pepper) — it’s a savory smoothie — to combat inflammation, since I would guess that the muscular effort will result in some inflammation. Raw turmeric works better against inflammation than cooked (and cooked works better for DNA repair than raw).

Update: Anomalous heart-rate readings

I found that I would often get anomalous heart-rate readings — e.g., a vigorous walk with a relatively low heart rate, or a flat heart rate when I was walking briskly up a hill. I assumed the anomalies were because the Amazfit is, after all, quite inexpensive. As it turned out, the problem was not in the Amazfit but in my heart — I had an intermittent AV blockage that become more frequent, and ultimately I had a pacemaker installed

I think that will fix the problem, but I won’t known for another few weeks since I cannot do Nordic walking until six weeks after the surgery.

update to the update: The surgery did not fix the problem, which seems to have been caused by wearing the Amazfit Band 5 too close to the wrist. I was wearing it one finger-width above the wrist (as the instructions said), but Amazfit support said to wear it two finger-widths above the wrist. When I did that, the readings were more consistent and made more sense.

 

Written by Leisureguy

24 February 2022 at 6:06 pm

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I believe brisk walking, especially pole walking, is the best all-around exercise for most people, most of the time. My belief has been validated by material I’ve read in several books and magazines.

    Liked by 1 person

    Steve Riehle

    24 February 2022 at 6:34 pm

  2. I agree. It certainly satisfies the exercise criteria I listed in this post:

    Beyond being enjoyable and apartment-compatible, an ideal exercise for me satisfies 5 additional criteria:

    1. I can do it by myself—it doesn’t require other people (team sports or even just, say, a tennis opponent);

    2. I can do it anywhere—it doesn’t require me to go to a special facility (a court or a gym or fitness center or playing field or pool or lake or the like);

    3. I can do it whenever I want—it doesn’t require that I be some particular place at a scheduled time;

    4. I can do it with minimal recurring expense—it doesn’t require a monthly membership fee, for example; and

    5. It’s specifically a cardio exercise. Strength training is fine, and flexibility exercises are good, but my specific goal is cardiovascular health, and cardio/aerobic exercise is the only route up that particular mountain.

    Like

    Leisureguy

    24 February 2022 at 6:58 pm

  3. The PAI displayed is the 7-day total PAI, not the PAI for that specific day. Each day it lops off the oldest of the 7 previous days and adds the new day. So a lower PAI displayed may be because you took a couple of days off in the previous &?

    Liked by 1 person

    The Eldest

    25 February 2022 at 6:36 pm

  4. On the PAI detail screen it shows the PAI for the the day whose bar is selected (that has the black triangle under the bar pointing to it). That way you can see the PAI for any particular day.

    Like

    Leisureguy

    25 February 2022 at 6:54 pm

  5. Great information glad your doing well

    K

    Liked by 1 person

    Kurt

    3 July 2022 at 12:32 pm

  6. I’m please the post is helpful. I just added an update.

    Like

    Leisureguy

    3 July 2022 at 1:19 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: