Posts tagged data collection
How Much Personal Data is Needed to Stay Healthy?

A few months ago, a story ran in Wired Magazine that described a noticeable shift in the scientific method, and attributed the change to our ability to produce and store large amounts of data.Historically, the scientific method was built around a testable theory.  But in the 21st century, theories were becoming obsolete; the data simply spoke for itself.

Read More
Automatic Data Tracking with Personal Health Monitors

I started thinking about the usefulness of personal health monitors last year. Heart disease runs rampant through my family, and several of my maternal uncles have had heart attacks, one of them at the age of 35.  With my 30th birthday rapidly approaching, I started to think about my own mortality -- my blood pressure and cholesterol were both already well above average.  Given my family's history of heart disease, I decided to go talk to my general physician.  We decided the best course of action was to treat the problem with diet and exercise modifications.  Although I have been physically active my entire life, I realized that I no longer had the metabolism of a teenager, and had to start thinking about what I was eating and how I was exercising before there was a serious impact on my health.And so, I began running again for the first time in a very long while.  I knew that as I ran more and more, I would start to just feel "better", but that notion just wouldn't satisfy the science geek inside me, and I needed to put numbers to my improvements.  So I started tracking my heart rate (via a standard chest-strap heart rate monitor ). I figured, at the very least, tracking my heart rate (HR) during my run would allow me to understand how it correlated to my exertion level.  It would also be interesting to see how my HR changed as I got back into shape. I bought the basic version -- the one that shows your current heart rate, but doesn't store any of the data or calculate statistics like max/min/average HR.  I was surprised how consistent my HR was during exercise, and soon began to use this information to gauge the intensity of my runs.  For example, some days I would be feeling fine and I would be running at my normal pace, but my HR was running about 3-4% higher than usual.  While I'm not sure if that is abnormal, it happens very infrequently, and I used it as a signal that I should slow down and take it easy.  While my current understanding of my HR during exercise is far from the interpretation of body metrics talked about here at The Decision Tree, I believe my analysis has me headed in the right direction.

Read More