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Fitness trackers are one of the hottest holiday gifts — and for good reason! They motivate, inspire, and can help incite massive physical (and mental) changes. Whether you’re trying to encourage more movement or help someone learn about their heart rate during exercise, a tracker can help.
I got the chance to compare my Apple Watch Series 2 and my Fitbit Charge 2 side by side, worn simultaneously (yes, I looked like a tool in my SoulCycle classes and on my runs and in my kettlebell class). Since trackers have been helping me on my fitness journey, I wanted to see what the user experience was like for each and what kind of data I could access after my workout. Let’s take a look.
If you’re worried about the look of your tracker, you have two great options to choose from. You either lean more toward the aesthetic of a traditional tracker/fitness band with the Fitbit Charge 2, or the digital watch styling of the Apple Watch. With both, you can choose the metal accent color (gold, silver, etc.) and change out the bands if you’d like to wear them every day beyond your workouts. Fitbit has a blush pink leather that I’m particularly fond of, and I may switch up my Apple Watch with a new color of silicone band if I get tired of the light gray.
General Features (of Note)
HRM. Both trackers offer a heart rate monitor, which is ideal for data tracking and learning more about your body. It also provides a more accurate account of how many calories are burned per workout.
Waterproof (or not). The Apple Watch Series 2 is waterproof, the Fitbit Charge 2 is not. You will definitely have to take it off in your post-workout shower.
Music Storage. Additionally, the latest Apple Watch has music storage capabilities, meaning you don’t have to bring your phone, and you can listen to your workout playlist — provided you have Bluetooth headphones.
Tracking Your Workout
The first time I used my Fitbit Charge 2, I had no idea how to start tracking my workouts — I was simply wearing it for step tracking and my heart rate. But when I wore it to SoulCycle, it somehow miraculously knew that I was doing a cycling workout from the moment I started — from there, it logged my heart rate every second of the way, and provided me with an in-depth analysis of my workout. Once the Fitbit synced with my phone, the app showed a workout logged as “Bike.”
I wrongfully assumed my Apple Watch Series 2 would do the same, and went into another SoulCycle class with it, only to be disappointed not only at its lack of intuitive tracking, but zero data to be found anywhere. It didn’t log my heart rate more than once or twice throughout the 45-50 minutes of the workout, and I had no data to track, no exercise counted toward my day. I get it — first world problems. But as someone who loves tracking all of my exercise and activity, this was sorely disappointing.
If there’s enough movement, the Apple Watch will sense it. I went to a hip-hop workout class, and though the Watch knew I was exercising (it logged minutes toward my daily exercise goal), it did not log any particular exercise nor give me the option to.
With the Fitbit, you can retroactively track your workout. Because the tracker is more closely monitoring your heart rate, you can enter the data and say, “I worked out from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45,” and it will populate your workout with the data from that time. This is not an option on the Apple Watch Series 2, as far as I can tell.
Both trackers give you the option to log a workout if you hit a button and “start” your run, cycling class, general cardio, or weight lifting (Fitbit has a weight-specific workout you can select, Apple Watch you’ll have to select “other”). However, neither tracker gives you the option to edit your stop time of your workout — so if you forget to hit the “stop” button and hours have passed, you’re stuck with wonky data and skewed average heart rate information (and a several-hour-long “workout” on your records).
Data and Accuracy
Each tracker displays the average heart rate, total calories burned, and the length of the workout — I wore both of mine at once (in the same type of class, three times, just to be sure) to see how close they were in terms of data accuracy, and I still have no idea which one was correct. Take a look — these are three cycling classes, about 50 minutes long (with the cooldown), both logged at the same time, with the same height/weight/age data in the system.
As you can see, they never lined up 100 percent. Although similar in average heart rate and caloric burn, it’s impossible to tell which one is accurate, which can be frustrating.
In terms of getting a better insight as to what’s happening in your workout, the Fitbit wins by a mile. The heart rate data is so much more nuanced, and it can even show you how many calories you burned in each minute of your workout. I love that it shows you how long your heart rate was in different zones, and the graphs really animate the physiology of your workout, so you get more of an inside look into what’s happening in your body. It’s great. Unfortunately, with the Apple Watch, you’re stuck with average numbers and no fun graphs.
The Apple Watch Series 2 ranges from $369 to $399, and the Fitbit Charge 2 ranges from $150 to $180.
If you’re looking for data, the Fitbit really does win by a long shot. The data it provides is so much more detailed, and the intuitive exercise tracking makes for much more hassle-free workouts. This is a specialty piece of equipment specifically created and designed for exercise — whereas the Apple Watch was designed with a lot of other things in mind. I do wish they’d provide a feature that lets you cut off your workout time if you actually forget to stop your tracking, though.
While the Apple Watch Series 2 provides a lot more of the bells and whistles (It’s waterproof! You can text on it! It stores your playlists!), in terms of tracking, it’s just not as smart as the Fitbit when it comes to fitness, data, and overall wellness. However, if you’re looking to use it as a running tracker, I’d highly recommend it in that case.Read More
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Why do some songs stick in our heads for infuriatingly long periods of time? According to the first large-scale study of its kind, it’s all about their combination of upbeat tempos, easy-to-remember melodies, and a little something unexpected. The new research looked at some of the most popular songs with this “stick factor"—and gives advice for how to get them unstuck, as well.
Tunes that we can’t seem to shake are sometimes known as earworms, or referred to in the scientific community as involuntary musical imagery. It makes sense that recent chart-toppers that get lots of radio play are more likely to find their place deep in our brains, but that theory—and the reasoning why some songs are catchier (and stickier) than others—has not been widely examined in a scientific way.
So Kelly Jakubowski, PhD, a former psychology teaching fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London, set out to do just that. Between 2010 and 2013, she and and her fellow researchers asked 3,000 people about their most frequent earworm, and compared those tunes' melodic features to other songs that were just as popular during the same time period (based on U.K. music charts), but were not named in the survey.
They found that the songs commonly cited as earworms were more likely to have fast tempos and, overall, fairly generic melodic contours. An example of a common contour pattern can be heard in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, where the first phrase rises in pitch and the second falls, Jakubowski noted in a press release.
This rising-and-falling pitch pattern is followed in other nursery rhymes, as well, which makes them easy for young children to remember. And it's used in plenty of pop music, too, she says—like the beginning of Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” one of the most common earworms named in the study.
But earworms also tend to have some unique and unusual intervals, such as musical leaps or repeated notes, that set them apart from the average pop song. Jakubowski cites the opening notes of “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple, the chorus of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” or the instrumental riffs of “My Sharona” by the Knack as examples.
"Our findings show that you can to some extent predict which songs are going to get stuck in people's heads based on the song's melodic content,” said Jakubowski, who’s now a research assistant in the Department of Music at Durham University. “This could help aspiring songwriters or advertisers write a jingle everyone will remember for days or months afterwards.”
The study confirmed the idea that frequent and recent exposure to a song make it more likely to become an earworm, and that people who sing and listen to music often tend to experience this phenomenon more than others. It also found that words, images, and other associations can bring songs to mind, often from deep in our memories.
"We now also know that, regardless of the chart success of a song, there are certain features of the melody that make it more prone to getting stuck in people's heads like some sort of private musical screensaver,” said Jakubowski.
But here’s the part of the study you’ve probably been waiting for: what to do about it when it happens to you. Based on survey responses of what’s worked for other people, the authors make three recommendations:
1. Engage with the song. Many people said that listening to a song all the way through helps quiet the constant loop in their heads.
2. Distract yourself. Thinking about or listening to another song helps some people, too. In the study—which surveyed Brits—the top-named “cure song” was “God Save the Queen.” (Maybe the U.S. equivalent is the “Star Spangled Banner?”)
3. Let it be. Other people reported that the best way to get rid of an earworm was to just try not to think about it, and let it fade away naturally on its own.
Jakubowski says that 90 percent of us get songs stuck in our heads at least once a week, normally when the brain is not doing much—while we’re in the shower, walking, or doing mindless chores, for example. Further research on this topic could potentially help scientists understand how brain networks involved in perception, emotion, memory, and spontaneous thought behave in different people, she says.
The study, which was published today in the academic journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, lists the following as the most frequently named earworms. (Remember, the survey was done between 2010 and 2013.) We apologize in advance for bringing them up, as we know you’ll be humming them all week long.
Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
Can't Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minogue
Don't Stop Believing – Journey
Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye
Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5
California Gurls – Katy Perry
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Alejandro – Lady Gaga
Poker Face – Lady Gaga
This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.
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You probably already know that your cell phone can be a pain in the neck. (And back. And shoulder.) It’s something that both researchers and doctors alike have been noticing for the past five years or so. But fast forward to today: Are our texting/Snapchatting/selfie-taking habits getting any healthier?
Probably not, says Jocelyn Szeto, MD, a primary care sports medicine physician with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and the Memorial Hermann Ironman Sports Medicine Institute at Texas Medical Center. In fact, if Hoda Kotb’s “selfie elbow” is any indication of our progress, it seems like we’re finding totally new ways to injure ourselves.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people suffer from tech-related aches—“the incidence rate is still underreported,” says Dr. Szeto—but she sees plenty of people who are bothered by tight tendons and overuse injuries.
The culprit, she says, is pretty much one thing: repetition, repetition, repetition. Problem is, we not only text, type, and selfie often, we also do so without really noticing it, she says. Time to change that. Here are four tech-related injuries to be aware of, and ways to ward them off.
Selfies are all about finding the best angle for your face, not your joints: With our arms stuck out in front of us and our elbows held at an awkward angle—sometimes for 10 to 15 seconds at a time—"it's not a very ergonomic position,” says Dr. Szeto.
The problem: Taking tons of selfies can strain one of the forearm muscles that helps stabilize your arm. And when you use that muscle too often, tiny microtears form around the part of it that connects to the elbow joint, causing inflammation. “It’s the same muscles that are affected in ‘tennis elbow,’” she says.
The fix: Scale back on the selfies, which should give your muscles a much-needed break. Alternating your camera hand can help, too. (Or you can always ask a friend to take the picture for you.)
RELATED: 6 Ways Your Mobile Devices Are Hurting Your Body
Whether you’re a stickler about cleaning out your inbox, still playing Candy Crush, or are just really active on Tinder, you can trigger an overuse injury by repetitively swiping your thumb.
The problem: Scrolling, swiping, typing—your thumb is probably doing way more work than you give it credit for. And repeatedly moving your thumb in the same manner can cause inflammation in the tendons in your thumbs. (Dr. Szeto notes that this can also occur in the tendons of a person’s forefinger, which is often used for typing on a tablet or phone.)
The fix: Taking a break every few minutes or so to rest your fingers and thumb can help prevent overuse. Try switching up your typing fingers too.
Any hand-held mobile device can cause posture problems, but it’s hard to hold a tablet in an ergonomically friendly way, says Szeto. Most people hold their tablets too low—i.e., resting on their laps or propped against their thighs.
The problem: When you look down at your tablet screen, you’re also transferring more pressure to your upper spine; when that happens, your neck muscles have to work overtime to support your head, upping the odds that you’ll strain those muscles.
The fix: If you’re watching a video clip, prop up your tablet on a table at eye level; if you’re typing, try to use the device in the same way you’d use a desktop computer (as much as possible anyway). For example, use a keyboard and place the screen on your desk at eye level. And take a break every few minutes, says Dr. Szeto.
RELATED: 15 Natural Back Pain Remedies
The empty space about the fireplace mantle is an aesthetically-pleasing spot for a flatscreen. But it means you’re constantly craning your neck to watch your favorite shows.
The problem: When you look up at a TV, your neck is “hyperextended”— medical speak for “bent in an awkward position.” And since that puts extra stress on your neck muscles, you could wind up with a sore neck. (More incentive to move the TV to a more ergonomically-ideal place: Americans spend almost three hours a day in front of the tube, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor.)
The fix: You should always put the TV at eye level, says Dr. Szeto, so you're looking straight ahead. This way, your neck and spine will be in the “neutral position”—i.e., you won’t have to lift or twist it to see the screen. Think of it like this: “No one fights to sit in the front row when they go to the movies,” Dr. Szeto points out. Besides, whose family room actually looks HGTV-ready in real life?