Wednesday, 20 November 2013

D.I.Y. Data: Checking my vital signs

Following the self-destruction of my Up band, and general moaning about the lack of open source data, I've come up with a solution.

Well, a solution of sorts. I've started manually tracking myself.

Luckily, we had a blood pressure monitor in a back cupboard and that's the core of my new regime.

When I get up, I weight myself and check my blood pressure and heart rate. That's manually entered into a spreadsheet, and I drop the numbers into a simple graph (below).

It's not rocket science, but checking these vital signs at roughly the same time every day (always before eating) should provide consistent results.

More generally, checking our vital signs is a step beyond the sport and health trackers because you certainly can't take a blood pressure reading without a proper sleeve attachment. However, the monitors themselves aren't expensive and some manufacturers of other health equipment such as Beurer and Withings do sub-£30/$50 examples.

Equally, measuring your blood pressure is medically more important than factors such as heartrate, sleeping patterns or even weight. There's a reason they call high blood pressure the 'silent killer'.

Of course, it is related to metrics such as weight, diet and general fitness, but as you can see, at the start of the process, my blood pressure was rather high.

I've since made some lifestyle tweaks and am happy to see it dropping towards the standard '120 over 80', although I'm sure there's a large psychological element in this. My lifestyle changes are not so radical that it would have had this impact so quickly.

Anyhow, what's more significant for me is not just rely on what my sensors are recording. Sure, that's useful but just because we're measuring something doesn't mean it's important. 

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