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There are lots of products in the market which targets individuals who want to be more aware/in control of their training. The most common and classic of such instruments are pulse sensors, either as watches or devices that are strapped on the chest (while running for instance). I stumbled upon two new devices which I think will take the concept one step further; Jawbone UP and Nike Fuel Band. Since I have no intentions of advertise for any product I'll leave it to the interested reader to get more information about them.

  • What I am wondering is what variables are used in these kind of products? Or rather what constitutes as a good measure of training effectivity/intensity?

  • The pulse and blood pressure are the obvious answers, and the majority of the newer stuff use 3D accelerometers for motion sensing. There are concerns about the accuracy of these sensors in training, however, due to the localization issue (i.e. if the device is on your arm, all training not involving your arm goes more or less unregistered)

  • I have heard about the "blood oxygenation" (dunno even know if it's a proper word) to be an interesting/important parameter, but it's supposedly not yet possible to measure it with non-invasive equipment. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

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Blood oxygenation is a proper word, but its a bit involved to measure. It either requires a clip on your finger or on your ear, where it can shines infrared through your body and measure how much gets picked up on the other side. Not really useful if you're running or cycling, unless in a lab –  Ivo Flipse May 14 '12 at 21:01

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I haven't read on oxygenation, but have heard the term. I actually bought a heart-rate/pulse monitor watch about a week ago. It does NOT include the chestband thing, just wrist only taking over your heart-rate. Using it during a basic workout I notice more calories registering as burned, vs if someone calculated calories burned from the exercises I did. This is to be expected as calculating calories burned from the exercises you do can only take into account the the "work" (force/distance) you do or energy (power/time) expended by by using power (work/time).

The best way to test the efficiency of these heart-rate monitors is to just get someone to measure it. I'm not sure if machines like the blood-pressure measurer at Walmart also give you your pulse rate, but that would be one way to measure. You could also compare by using the heart-rate indicators on a PreCor (elliptical) machine at a gym. Those machines take your age and weight as a way to approximate measurements, and they have handles to hold to check the rate. Start walking, check the rate on the PreCor, then the Watch. Speed up and get a second reading.

The accuracy or Calories burned as measured by heart-rate on the watches is based on the number of times you "check in" with your heart-rate. Meaning if you check-in before the start of your workout with a 78, then it assumes you to be at 78 until you enter another reading. Thus, in a hour, even if you ran a mile, it won't show you burning a lot of calories. I'm not sure of the chestband types have constant monitoring, but if they do (again) a comparison with a PreCor measurement of calories burned would let you know if you have the accuracy of a more expensive machine

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