The Quantified Self: Useful or Not? | Queal - Eat Complete
April 9, 2017

The Quantified Self: Useful or Not? | Queal

Article

The Quantified Self: Useful or Not?

Today (its 9.45am) I’ve taken 1913 steps. At 6.32 I was fully awake and I’ve slept for almost 6 hours (I know, not enough). It’s Thursday and I’m at 4 out of 5 days of weekly exercise already. My resting heart rate is 60 bpm, up 5 from a week ago. Today I’ve burned 1054 calories already and only eaten 427 (one WundrBar). This morning I gave my mood a 7,5.

The stats come from my Fitbit (steps, calories) and some self-reported data (eating, happiness). They are part of my quest to better understand my body and to make constant improvements. The goal is to gather information and learn from what I see. Would sleeping longer improve my mood? And how much should I be eating whilst prepping for a marathon? All this can be labeled as part of the quantified self movement.

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The Quantified Self

The goal of the quantified self movement is to stimulate a healthy lifestyle through a combination of technology, science and fun (so says the movement). All over the world people are tracking stats. They want to discover how food impacts their mood. Or when they are sticking to a diet and when not. Or just to become aware of their habits.

Technology is helping them along. Only 10 years ago a sleep monitor was something that stood in a lab. Now it fits on your wrist or could even be measured by putting your phone under your pillow. Sensors have shrunk and collecting data has become cheaper. But what do we get from all that tracking? Do we actually improve ourselves, or is it just numbers in an excel sheet that are collecting dust?

Meet John

One of the users of the quantified self data is John. He is an investment banker in London and, like we all know, he is putting in long days at the office. He has trouble falling asleep and worries that his work is negatively impacted by this. He starts tracking his data, from hours of sleep to noting down his exercise regime. He even notes down how much he is drinking. And after a few weeks of data he sits down to look at it.

He finds out (maybe not surprisingly) that on days he drinks a few beers, his sleep quality is much lower. When he drinks coffee later than 12pm his also has trouble falling asleep. And on days he exercises he manages to fall asleep faster. And so he makes some changes to his habits. He cuts down on the alcohol, stops drinking coffee in the afternoon and still enjoys working out. Over the next weeks his hours of sleep go up from 6 to 7 and a half.

Meet Sara

Sara is using the quantified self approach to determine the best drug combination to control her…

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