TomTom wants to make it easier to track your exercise progress by showing if you're fitter than others your age.
Getting in shape can be a daunting process. Even if you've invested in a sports wearable, it can be tough to get your head round the numbers it's tracking and see if you're making progress.
TomTom is updating its apps and devices with a new measure of fitness that gives you a more easily understandable way to see how you're getting on. An update to the TomTom Sport app coming in September will track your exercise with "Fitness Points" and give you your "Fitness Age".
As the name suggests, your Fitness Age tells you how fit you are compared with others your age, with an easily digestible number rather than arcane measures like VO2max. That's the amount of oxygen you can use while exercising at your maximum capacity, and though it's a widely used unit of measuring fitness, it requires a special test and gives you a fairly abstract number. TomTom's Fitness Age is designed to be simpler for the more casual athlete and people just looking to get into better shape.
It's pretty self-explanatory: You exercise a bit, your TomTom watch reads your heart rate over time and gets a sense of your overall fitness, and the app tells you how you're doing compared with other people your age (drawn from data on people in the US).
If you're in good shape, it might tell you your Fitness Age is a few years younger than your real age (with a suitably celebratory icon). If you're not in great shape, it might tell you your Fitness Age is older than your real age.
If you are that unfit, the good news is it's easier to improve your fitness faster than someone who's very fit and can make only incremental gains. That's where the second part of TomTom's update comes in. As well as your Fitness Age, the app will quantify your exercise in terms of Fitness Points to make sure you're not just working harder but working smarter.
Fitness Points are designed to help you understand the most effective use of your time. Fitness Points take into account exercise intensity as well as the raw number of steps, distance or time; for example, an intense 10-minute run can have more impact than a 20-minute walk and so earns you more Fitness Points.
These simplified measures of your activity and fitness are then shown in a way that's fun and easy to understand. In the app, your activity is shown as coloured bubbles, so it's easy to see what you've done and how you can pump things up to the next level. At the same time, the app is smart enough to tell you to have a rest the day after you pushed the intensity to the max.
On any given day, the app will also show you what you need to do that day to hit your target, like another 10 minutes of cardio or a quick walk.
The app links to your actual workouts through your TomTom device, such as the Spark or Adventurer sports watches. In the app, you can manually set up a workout session, adding different activities to warm-up, high-intensity and rest periods. Or on your watch you can pick a workout goal -- burning fat, improving endurance or hitting top speed -- then pick a time and it'll suggest a running or cycling session. The watch coaches you through the workout by monitoring the perfect heart rate threshold to get results, flagging you when your pulse goes too low or too high.
TomTom is keen to stress this isn't designed as a long-term training programme. It's aimed instead at spicing up your next run or making it easier to get into the gym, showing your progress and your targets in easily digestible ways.
The new update will be realised during September to the last two generations of TomTom watches -- the Runner 2 and 3, and the Spark and Adventurer. People with older devices can still calculate their Fitness Age and Fitness Points through the app.
After that, the actual exercising is up to you. So get your running shoes on -- it'll take years off you.
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