If you follow me on Twitter or know me personally, you know that I’m a big user of Fitbit and MyFitnessPal. In 2009 I weighed in at just under 300lbs while today I’m a healthy 195lbs and I credit my Fitbit (One and now a Flex) as well as MyFitnessPal as part of my success in losing the weight and keeping it off. That said, there are some out there who do not necessarily want to have a wearable device to track their activities let alone have another app they have to go to so they can log their food and caloric intake.
With the introduction of the Lumia 1520, Nokia introduced SensorCore, a sensor and software application built into certain Lumia devices that will allow you to track activities such as walking and running. Couple that with the free MSN Health & Fitness app for Windows Phone, you now have a way to keep track of your steps, runs, diet, and calories burned all in one app and you don’t have to wear any other devices other than your Lumia in your pocket – which is where it always is anyway, right? Setting up your Lumia to use SensorCore is easy and it automatically configures MSN Health & Fitness so you can get to tracking things straight away.
Let’s first talk about SensorCore. Essentially it is a motion tracker, using a the sensors in your Lumia to track that motion. The accompanying software that drive SensorCore is a low power solution that has an available SDK (Software Development Kit) for developers to tap in and use SensorCore in their apps. In order for it to work you have to have a device that has it built in and not every Lumia does have it. The devices today that have SensorCore technology includes:
- Lumia 630
- Lumia 635
- Lumia 830
- Lumia 930
- Lumia ICON (Verizon Lumia 930 variant)
- Lumia 1520
If you do not have one of these devices then you do not have the technology built into you device which mean you will have to go down the Fitbit, UP! or Microsoft Band route to track your activity.
Right now you can get a Lumia 830 with a free Fitbit Flex from AT&T for $99.99. If you don’t want to wear a tracker, you could go get yourself a Lumia 635 at the Microsoft Store for $49 without a contract on AT&T. That’s $50 less than the 830 package but isn’t nearly as good a phone. But it is less expensive, by a lot, and a pretty darn good phone in my opinion. You can read my review of the Lumia 635 at this link.
Assuming you have a SensorCore enabled Lumia, you will need to enable it on your device. Go to Settings>Motion Data then turn the service on. It is off by default because it does consume additional battery power on your Lumia. If you are going to use a Fitbit for example, you should keep this turned off. It doesn’t drain the battery heavily but it does consume power. With Motion Data now enabled, you will start tracking your activities right from your Lumia in your pocket. Now it is matter of getting an app that will interpret the SensorCore data and that is where MSN Health & Fitness comes in the picture.
MSN Health & Fitness is a free app in the Windows Phone store that is actually one of the better MSN apps in my opinion. It gives you news and information on health trends but also gives you recommendations for workouts and even provides a symptoms checker if you are not feeling tip-top. Even if you don’t have a SensorCore enabled Lumia, download this app and give it a try.
One of the benefits of the MSN Health & Fitness app is it is a Step Tracker and this is where SensorCore comes into the picture. The app can interpret the data from the SensorCore software in your Lumia and translate into the number of steps you have taken, the distance you have walked and an estimation of the calories that you have burned. All of this happens automatically – there is nothing within the app for you to configure. It makes it easy to get started and really eliminates any excuses. It’s a free
app with zero configuration. What’s there to lose other than a few pounds, right? 🙂
One other added benefit: If you use MSN Health & Fitness on your Windows Phone and your Windows PC, your data will be synchronized across the both so you can see your activity in both places.
It is recommend that we should take 10,000 steps per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For most people this breaks down to 4-5 miles of walking. If you are just starting out with a exercise routine, this will seem like a huge number but actually it’s not. By carrying your Lumia in your pocket as you walk around your place of work or just your normal day-to-day routine, you will find that most people walk 2-3 miles anyway. That means most of us don’t really have to do that much more to get to 10,000 steps.
The MSN Health & Fitness app not only allows you to track your steps on a daily basis but also allows you to see your weekly trend or your steps over the course of a month. That way you can see what your exercise patterns are in your life. You may find for example that Monday’s are always your top walking days while Friday’s are your slowest. Personally, Monday’s are my slowest days as it is a day that I’m usually stuck at my desk on weekly conference calls. My busy day is usually Wednesday as I
make sure I get a good amount of exercise in to push through the rest of the week.
Within the MSN Health & Fitness app you can also track your diet to give you a good idea of how much you are eating on a daily basis. Most people, especially Americans, overeat by a lot each day which is one of the reasons why we as a nation struggle with our collective weight. I’m not suggesting that this app is as sophisticated or provides you the level of diet detail that MyFitnessPal does (which is also a free app) but it is a starting point for you if you are not sure where to start.
I suggest keeping one thing in mind about using a SensorCore enabled Lumia to assure you get as accurate a step count as possible. You have to have the phone on you at all times, just like you would a wearable tracker like a Fitbit. In the testing and using this on my Lumia 635 for this post, that device is actually quite comfortable in a pocket but your mileage will vary. I know Tricia has raised many times on Twitter – as has my wife – that women’s pants are not well suited to carrying a phone in a pocket. If that is the case or you don’t want to carry it on in your pocket, a jacket pocket works or even carrying it in your hand. The SensorCore technology does a really good job of figuring out if you are just swinging your hands around or actually walking making it hard to get false positives on your steps. No tracker is perfect and this isn’t either but it is pretty darn good. The most accurate measurements I found in my testing though were in your hip pocket or front pocket on your jeans, pants or shorts.
If you are looking for an easy way to get started tracking your steps, you can do it with your SensorCore enabled Lumia and the MSN Health & Fitness app. It is quick and easy and it could be the first steps you take to a healthier, more active lifestyle.