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I’ve always said that the majority of us would be in decent (not great, but not in poor shape) if we just moved around a bit more and made all of our own meals. It’s all the preservatives, salts, fat, sauces and the lack of movement/sedentary lifestyle that turns us into a pudgy version of ourselves. I only base that assumption on my own experience – when I’m moving around and getting a little bit of daily exercise (even if it’s just walking for an hour), and I make everything myself, I lose weight. That said, it’s incredibly easy to ‘fall off the wagon’ of health and get into a dark place that leads to gross eating and endless hours of sitting in front of a computer.

Over the last week, I have been wearing the Jawbone UP24 Activity Tracker to help give me some insight into my lifestyle, and ways in which I can improve. As I said above, I recognize when my body has been at its healthiest and when I feel gross. The Jawbone UP24 is an upgraded version of their standard activity tracker as it offers round the clock monitoring – it tracks my activity levels when I’m awake, but also tracks me as I sleep (Santa?).

Technically, the device features an internal rechargeable battery that lasts about 7 days. It charges via a unique 3.5mm-to-USB charger that comes with the device. The band has a single button which enables you to pair it via USB, but also to turn it off, turn it on, activate sleep mode, or toggle back to day. The app does the leg work, offering you the ability to set vibrating notifications if you haven’t moved in a while, alarms, and other activity based recommendations.

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Aesthetically, it’s alright. I’m not going to win any awards for my fashion sense by wearing this on my wrist, but no one is saying it looks bad either. In truth, it’s a passive accessory when worn… most people aren’t going to notice it, and I like that. The flat black band fits comfortably on my wrist at all hours of the day and I don’t really notice it all that much (until it starts to vibrate). Construction wise, it’s flexible and seems fairly durable. It is also water resistant, but it’s not waterproof so don’t take it in the shower with you!

Now, the important part – the information it provides! The Jawbone UP24 has two main features – it tracks your steps and it tracks your sleep. It advises you that setting a goal of 10K steps a day is a great goal – so I set it to that. Throughout your day it tracks every step you take and shares that information with the app – allowing you to review when you were active and how active you were during the day. The sleep tracker tracks your motions while you sleep to determine the kind of sleep you’re having – deep sleep, which I imagine is motionless, light sleep which likely involves some minor tossing and turning, and ‘wake up’ time, times where your body is moving around a lot. Now, the app displays your food scores as well – to enter that, I use a different program entirely but Jawbone pulls that data to create the visual representation. They do have their own food tracking option, but it’s a little bit too limiting in my opinion.

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What you get from this data are several different scores that can help you figure out what you’re doing well, and what you’re doing poorly. It’s ultimately up to you to do something with that information – and perhaps that’s the biggest flaw with the system. The Jawbone UP24 is a great device for people who just need a little bit of additional motivation to go to bed on time, or to walk a little bit longer or to eat a little healthier – but it will do nothing for someone who’s not already motivated to do something about their health. Now, for someone who is motivated the system does provide a daily ‘recommendation’ – such as go to bed 30 minutes earlier, or achieve a certain movement goal for the day. But other than that, the system won’t make you a better athlete, or better at sleep, or better at diet – it simply gives you a better look at what you’re doing. For someone like me who is motivated to live healthier, it’s the perfection addition to my life.

If there’s something bad to say about the Jawbone UP24, it’s that it can be addictive. I love stats and information. Data excites me and this now provides another source of data that I never really had before. On the positive, I know to eat better or move around more. On the negative, if I had a bad sleep or a bad food score, I get frustrated with myself. The sleep one especially – I’ll wake up feeling rested, only to find that the app says I only had 60% of my necessary sleep. ARRRGHH! Ultimately, the positives outweigh the negatives though and I think this is a great device to get certain people on the track to a better life through better health.

You can get a Jawbone UP24 for $100 from Future Shop.

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