Exercise! - Bodybugg questions

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11-23-2010, 02:02 PM
I have been trying to find out what the Bodybugg (it's called something different in the UK for some reason but appears to be the same thing) actually does, but the information doesn't appear to be forthcoming. Sure, it tracks your calorie burn, but does it do it more accurately than other methods based on something that is genuinely going on inside of your body, or just by estimating that a person of your height and weight uses this much to do that activity? I'm interested in it because of my unusual physical condition, I'd love to know what my body actually burns up in its quest for survival and to stop crucial parts from falling off, and I've never been able to use averages and estimates because I'm not a remotely average person. Calorie burn estimates for wheelchair users vary from the sublime to the ridiculous, and heart rate monitors don't like me at all since anything over about 70 is pretty pumping for me, they somehow expect 120bpm. If I can't work out how much calorie burn I get from daily existence then setting calorie targets and expectations is really challenging.

I'm really curious - what does it actually DO? As in how?

Also, I'm pretty flabberghasted to find out that not only do you have to pay c.150 to own one, you then have an ongoing subscription cost to be able to upload the information that is inside it! Now is that just if you want to do complex online things, or is it really something that's necessary to get the benefits out of using it in the first place? Can you just download and analyse the information on desktop software, or do you really need the subscription before it's any use?


11-23-2010, 02:21 PM
I don't have a body bugg, but I have a gowear fit, (I think it's called bodymedia fit now), but it's basically the same thing.

You wear this band which I'm sure you understand, and the more you wear it the more accurate the information gets over time. My BMF records how much I have walked each day, how much I have slept (with a percentage that shows how well I'm sleeping- which is why I got it in the first place), how much exercise I have done (moderate, vigorous). I can also record my food on their but I use sparkpeople.com. I can also tell it my goals and it tells me how many calories I should eat, etc.

It's a great device if you want to spend the time to upload your information (I upload once a week and charge mine). I also pretty much wear it ALL THE TIME. Unless I'm in the shower it's on me. They aren't waterproof. I switch arms each day.

The membership is necessary because there is no other way to access your information other than the online system (of course we know that's done on purpose).

You might want to look into the BMF instead of the BB- it's much cheaper- I spend $7 a month for my membership and I believe my BMF is at least $100 cheaper. Also if you have a smartphone I hear the new ones can instantly access information from your BMF.

Good luck with a decision if you choose one- but overall the BMF is cheaper and I've known people to switch from BB to BMF.

11-23-2010, 03:28 PM
I'd just like to mention that I purchased a Bodybugg about a year ago and then it took me 3 months to return it to 24 hour Fitness (where I purchased it and since I wasn't a member at their gym, somehow this made it very complex for the to decipher).

I returned it because I found it to be completely inaccurate and they insisted that I was definitely not the norm. Regardless of whether or not I worked out vigorously and was drenched in sweat with a face the color of a beet or if I took a leisurely walk in the neighborhood, the bodybugg didn't show a differentiation in calories burned. This was quite frustrating for me and so I didn't see the point in wearing it.

I'm sure you'll get other more positive responses, but I just wanted to give you mine as well. When I was looking into it, everyone said it was a wonderful device that was very accurate and useful.

Best of luck.

11-23-2010, 03:57 PM
I think they talked about it on Biggest Loser once...if I were creating a device like that, I would build a sensor that measures heat output through the skin since a calorie is a unit of heat. (If you're a science-y type person, it would probably be a resistor whose resistance changes predictably when it heats up or cools down that is then calibrated.)

Since the device could only measure a small area of skin, the overall burn calculation would have to be based on an estimate of your body's surface area (it's my understanding that the body loses heat at the same rate over most of its area, except for extremities like fingers and toes). Your surface area is probably estimated by the program using your height and weight, so it would overestimate the calorie burn on those with denser bodies and underestimate the burn on the less-dense. Someone who is lean with lots of muscle, for example, would be much more dense than someone with a higher percentage of body fat because muscle is denser (takes up less space for the same weight) than fat. I'm not sure if there's a way to incorporate your own body composition into the program so it can adjust for that, but if there is it seems to me like it would be accurate. It is certainly a better estimate for your personal circumstances than averages on the internet!

If I'm totally off-base on this some bodybugg person can call me on it, but that's how I'd do it. :-D

11-23-2010, 04:23 PM
Here's how the BMF works:


It actually does measure heat flux, skin temperature, motion, and galvanic skin response.

They definitely do more than take into account height and weight- BUT you do have to input that information, along with a lot of other information, to your device. I imagine the bodybugg is very similar.

11-23-2010, 04:33 PM
the BB does measure heat, and movement (the pedometer feature). It does not measure HR

especially in a case like yours Rose, as well as in my own, he BB is a waste of money and will be completely inaccurate. Although it is measuring YOUR personal movement and such, it is STILL operating under basic (non-personalized) formulas of calorie expenditure based on a given height/weight/body composition/age, etc..... the exact same stats youd plug into an online calculator to get your BMR and whatnot.

Therefore, the BB gives you an EXPECTED calorie burn, ASSUMING you have a normal functioning metabolism, based on all the standard formulas. It will not be accurate if your persoanl daily caloric burn has been altered due to chronic dieting, overtraining, undereating, other metabolic medical issues, etc.

So, for myself, it was saying i was burning, on avg 2700 to 3000 cals, most days, based on my activity level and BF percentage. Guess what happens if i eat 2700 cals a day? Guess what happens if i eat 1400 Cals a day? I GAIN. The BB has no idea what is going on with my cortisol levels, and my thyroid hormones, and leptin, and progesterone and everything else.

It is especially way innacurate for most Conditioned, small, female athletes.

What it DOES do well however, is the one function that doesnt seem like it would be of much use to you...... it gives you a very good, general idea of how active you are through the day.... of how much you MOVE...... not how many cals you burn moving, but just how much you move.

The BB can be decently accurate for a lot of people though--- anyone who hasnt screwed up their metabolisms, or who find that those online calculators for BMR and activity levels and the like hit pretty close for them, will also prob find the BB to be accurate.

11-23-2010, 04:39 PM
Aw sucks, I'm not going to be able to use it if it's going to try to measure my steps. Wish someone would come up with a pedometer equivalent for wheelchairs. I can fit a cycle computer to get distance and speed, that's as near as I can get, but useless unless you can record terrain, I can get 20 metres out of a single push on some terrains and inches on others. Temperature control is a huge issue, I'll break a cold sweat for no reason at all. The rest of the time I've got an exceptionally low skin temperature, like block of ice kind of a deal. Sort of hoped something would be able to cope with a non-average anatomy/physiology, but no such luck.

Always been curious to see if I really do burn as few calories as I think or whether my body is quite busy, but it's non-movement things I want readings for. Because I don't have the correct ligaments just keeping my body together is an active thing not a passive thing. Sitting up is like balancing on a wobble board because the only thing that holds me up is continuous muscle readjustment, if I relax I fall down. None of these machines seem likely to measure how many calories go into these seemingly simple tasks. I bet I use more calories to sit than most people do, but unless I can prove it I record myself as being sedentary just like if I were sitting down and relaxing.

11-23-2010, 05:05 PM
Mine has been pretty accurate. When I was in the 210s it said I was burning around 2300 calories a day (I was also exercising).

As I've gone down the numbers have gone down also (very frustrating!).

The biggest thing for me was the sleep recorder. I had a suspicion my CPAP wasn't working and with that I confirmed it. COURSE my doctor scoffed at it but at my insistence I had things checked out and had my CPAP pressure lowered and then my sleep was back on track again. Obviously it's doing something right!