Get active with the Polar Loop 2 and Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor

Get active with the Polar Loop 2 and Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor – includes full set up guide and Part 1 of 3, December training activity

Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart rate sensor - motherhooddiaries.com

Getting fit has always been a favourite pastime of mine. I regularly participated in long-distance charity runs and even took part in the Olympic London Mazda Triathlon twice. Ok, so, I was in my twenties. I had bundles of energy and no kids. So, as soon as I became a mum in my thirties, I got lazy and ended up doing absolutely nothing. I started to notice my body and, especially, my immune system weakening and realised that exercise played a huge part in protecting my immune system. So, 18 months after my second child was born, I decided to do something about it. I lugged my huge double buggy (with no power steering) and my two boys (aged 18 months old and 2 ½ years old at the time) out for a long walk every day, for the entire duration of summer. I started to shed the weight quite quickly and felt great. I realised that during this time I hadn’t suffered any bout of depression, illness or exhaustion, even though I was really walking off those pounds every day. Come to think of it, my boys were as good as gold over the summer as well. As soon as winter struck and I got lazy again, I caught a very nasty cold that was greeted with the flu and a tummy bug. That was it. I was going to do something about this. I now knew that exercising at least 30 minutes a day was enough to get the blood pumping and the body working. So, I looked into exercise DVDs that I could do at home and started off with the Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shred exercise DVD. I got quite bored of the monotonous workouts but did enjoy my new slim figure. Then, I found my love – Tony Horton’s P90X3 DVD Workout Series. I have been working on his DVDs ever since, but I’m not taking it too seriously. I haven’t got a plan in place nor a goal of how much I want to lose. This is something I would like to change in 2016.

My husband used to be quite sporty too, but he also took a back seat when the kids came along and I have been looking for ways that I can encourage him to get fit with me. Exercise DVDs are a no-no, as he gets home from work too late and going to the gym is difficult, as we are trying to save money to buy a house. So, that summer he ended up cycling to work and then did nothing the whole winter. Needless to say, he got sick too…



For the past year, I have been exercising using P90X3’s lean schedule, around 3 to 4 times a week, and I have lost a ton of weight. But, I never had any tracking device or heart rate sensor to actually monitor the weight that I was losing and how fit I was actually getting. I really wanted to know how many calories I was burning after one workout session and I didn’t trust the weighing scales, as I was flitting back and forth between 61 and 64kg, depending on weight and muscle gain. I looked like I was getting smaller, but my weight didn’t seem to reduce that much.

Then, something magical happened. I was offered the chance to review the Polar Loop 2 and Polar H7 Heart Rate Sensor (worth over £250), which claims to do everything that I wish for. Polar and TOTS100 are working together with bloggers like myself to review their new fitness tech gadgets in the run-up to Christmas and the New Year. I received two Polar activity trackers and heart monitors to try out with my husband in order to encourage us to be more active and have fun with the family, resulting in feeling healthier all-round.

“Families that are active together, grow together!” Polar

I (and my husband if I can nag him effectively) will be reviewing the Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart Rate Sensor bundle over the next three months (December, January and February) to find out whether we will become more active and healthier together as a result. The question is:

Do activity trackers encourage you to be more active?

Well, let’s find out!

P.S – This post also includes a detailed guide to setting up the Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart Rate Sensor and how to sync both devices with your PC/MAC and smartphone. I also include December’s fitness activity, which is the first of a 3-part series that documents my fitness levels and, indeed, answers the question of whether activity trackers do encourage you to be more active. You will find Part 2, January’s activity, at the end of January. Part 3 will come out at the end of February.

P.P.S – Watch out for a competition post for your chance to win a Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart Rate Sensor. I will be hosting a giveaway on Motherhood Diaries at the end of February, which means we can all get fit and active together!


Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart Rate Sensor Bundle – what we received

Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart rate sensor - motherhooddiaries.com

  • 2 x Polar Loop 2 – Black and White
  • 2 x H7 Heart Rate Sensors with a pink strap for the ladies and blue for the boys

You can check out the specs and features online here.

Polar Loop 2 bracelet set up

When you open your Polar Loop 2 packaging, you receive quite a few parts, as well as various manuals. The first thing you should do is weed out the manual that is in your language (you’ll find that it’s just one concertina folded leaflet) and throw away or store the rest. The process is quite a long-winded one, so you don’t need them around to confuse you.

You will then find one bracelet (I went for the white), a USB magnetic charging cable, around key for customising the bracelet and some spare pins (you’ll see what I mean by these in just a tick).

Polar Loop 2 instructions - motherhooddiaries.com

The first thing you’ll need to do is read your leaflet. Yes, I encourage you to read the instructions otherwise you’ll be faffing about, trying to figure out how to customise your bracelet. They arrive in an XXL size!

Polar Loop 2 manual - motherhooddiaries.com

Customising your Polar Loop 2 Bracelet

You will receive instructions to first set up your Polar Loop 2, but I decided to customise my bracelet first. The enclosed manual rather helpfully includes a paper measuring tape, which you will need to cut out and place around your wrist to find out your measurements.

Polar Loop 2 measuring tape manual - motherhooddiaries.com

It turned out that my wrist measures at “5&4”. So, I needed to customise my bracelet to 5&4. Sound a bit strange? Well, it really just means that I cut five of the grooves on one side of the bracelet and 4 on the other side.

Ok… here are the steps:

  1. Open the bracelet’s buckle and detach the buckle from both ends. It would be easier to use that round pin to push into the holes of the buckle and dislodge the pins.
  2. Measure your wrist size as shown above, by placing the measuring tape over your wrist. Bear in mind that the bracelet is more comfortable when it’s a bit loose.
  3. Trim the band from both ends, by cutting along the lines. In my case, I cut 5 of the lines on one side and 4 on the other.
  4. The tricky part is reassembling the buckle and the pins. It took me a while, but, painstakingly, I got there in the end!

The image of the leaflet above has illustrations on how to follow the above steps, hence why reading the instructions beforehand is advisable.

Syncing your customised Polar Loop 2 bracelet to your PC/Mac

1 – You will need a computer with internet connection to be able to access the Polar Flow web service features (more on that later)

2 – Open your internet browser, head over to flow.polar.com/start and download the FlowSync software. Follow the on-screen instructions and once the installation is complete, FlowSync will open automatically and ask you to connect your Polar Loop 2. Be warned, it’s quite a long process!

3 – Now connect your Polar Loop 2 using the magnetic charging cable, which has a USB on one side and around magnetic port on the other that connects to the inside of the bracelet. It’s quite sensitive, so no need to use any force here. There is a ridge on one side of the port, which secures the connection.

4 – Your computer will now start to install any suggested USB drivers it needs and then automatically open up the Flow web service in your internet browser. Now, it’s time to create your unique profile!

  • First, you create an account with Polar, which will initially ask you for your contact details, i.e. Name, Address, Email etc…

  • Follow all the online instructions and you should be done in about 5 minutes (or maybe 10…)

I initially chose Level 3 because I was exercising 3/4 times a week. But, I changed this to Level 2, as I don’t believe I do enough to be considered a Level 3 athlete (and I’d like to work my way up to Level 3 in the next few months, so it’s something to look forward to.)

Now you’re ready to sync all your information to your Polar Loop 2. Once you’re done, you’ll receive a pop-up confirmation, which means you’re now ready to disconnect and wear your bracelet. Always update your Polar Loop 2 when Polar Flow suggests as such, like below.

The whole set up process takes quite a while, but it’s worth it, as you won’t need to do it again and you’ll be synced to all online Polar Flow activity, which is awesome!

Display features on Polar Loop 2 bracelet – before smartphone and H7 Heart Rate Sensor synchronisation

Love it! Ok, so the Polar Loop 2 bracelet features the following on its small dot matrix style display:

  • For the Polar Loop 2 to work, it needs to touch your skin. Also, its water resistant and can be worn underwater (but, I’m still too scared to do this, so I take it off before I shower).
  • The Polar Loop 2 bracelet has 4 different settings when you first set it up. These are:
  • TIME: The time is automatically set and updated when you sync to the internet.
  • ACTV: This stands for activity, which shows the battery status and loops through how much more of each activity you need to do to reach your daily goal, i.e. ‘JOG’, ‘WALK’, ‘UP’.
  • STEPS: How many steps you have left to do to reach your daily goal
  • CALS: How many calories you have left to burn to reach your daily goal.
  • The bracelet will vibrate when you’ve been inactive for too long and alerts you that it’s “time to get moving!”

Now, let’s dig into how the whole Polar Flow web service works for us!

Once you have set up your profile and synced your Polar Loop 2 bracelet to your personalised information, you will be taken to a diary page, which should look empty to start off with.

Time to fill out some more personal details, this time adding a profile picture and whether you’d like to share your progress on social media. Next, you fill out your three favourite sports, your all-time motto (mine is, “There’s always a Plan B”) and your notification settings and you’re good to go.

My December entry looks like this:

So, as you can see, I haven’t been as active as I should be in the run-up to Christmas. My husband’s parents came to stay just before Christmas and then I had to host Christmas dinner for 17 people, for the first time ever. I ended up eating more than my body’s fair share of food (including dessert). From 27th December, my friend came to stay for a few days and so I did no exercise whatsoever, except I did manage fit in some exercise on 31st December before the New Year celebrations took over.

So, to understand what all these entries mean on the calendar, we first need to set up our Polar Loop 2 with our smartphone (in my case the Android version, Samsung Note 4) and then, finally, hook up our Polar Loop 2 and our smartphone to the H7 Heart Rate Sensor for an all-around activity tracker. This will provide you with the information that you can see above for my December activity.

Syncing the Polar Loop 2 with an Android phone

As I only have an Android phone, I will list the steps it takes to sync an Android phone to the Polar Loop 2. I’m pretty sure that the steps are very similar to an iPhone, but please check the instructions in the online manual provided.

There are two apps you can download from the Google Play Store. These are the Polar Flow – Activity & Sports app and the Polar Beat – Fitness Coach app.

Polar Flow – Activity & Sports – Android App

This is the main app to use on your phone, which accompanies the Polar Loop 2 (and other Polar devices). You will need to ensure that you have a compatible smartphone that uses Android 4.3 or later. You will be able to follow your training and activity just as you can with the Polar Flow web version and wirelessly sync up your Polar Loop 2 to see all your achievements on the go. You can also sync your Polar Flow web service (above) to this app, so they are both updated with the same activity.

Here is a full list of what the app provides:

ACTIVITY

  • Follow your active choices 24/7
  • Find out what you’re missing from your daily goal and get guidance on how to reach it
  • See the active time, burned calories, steps and distance from steps
  • Learn more about your sleeping habits: how long you’ve slept and how restful it was
  • Receive inactivity alerts encouraging you to get up and move

TRAINING

  • Get an overview of your training and analyse every detail of your performance straight away
  • See your progress with weekly calendar summaries
  • Get even more detailed feedback when training with the Polar H7, Bluetooth Smart heart rate sensor (more on setting up the H7 Heart Rate Sensor later)

How to set up:

  • Download the app from Google Play store (or Apple App Store if you have an iPhone)
  • Open the app and sign in with your Polar account that you just created above. Wait for the ‘connect device’ pop-up to appear.
  • Press the button on your Polar Loop 2 to pair it with the app. Wait for the Loop display to turn off so that synchronisation can begin. A few tips on successfully pairing first time (as it sometimes can be a bit tricky), bring the Polar Loop close enough to the phone and look out for a moving arrow, which will show you that pairing has succeeded.
  • Now your account settings should all be synchronised with your Polar Flow web service and your bracelet.

How does the app work?

  • Once synced, the Polar Flow app services show you your ‘Feed’, i.e. any training you did that day, active time, calories burned and steps taken. You also receive a percentage of what you achieved towards your goal.
  • The ‘Activity’ section shows you a more in-depth look at what you’ve achieved that day. You are shown a wheel with a colour gradient that relates to different activity intensities, i.e. no activity or where bracelet hasn’t been worn, resting, sitting, low or standing, medium (e.g. walking) and high (e.g. running). It rather helpfully tells you how long you have been doing each intensity and if you scroll further down you will find your ‘Daily Goal’ status, which is a percentage of your daily activity goal (which you set at the beginning. Remember, I stupidly set it at Level 3 when I was nowhere near Level 3 yet?)

  • If you haven’t reached your goal, it shows you ideas on how to get it to 100%, for example, 15 minutes’ football activity, 53 minutes of table tennis or 2 hours and 2 minutes of slow walking. Cool, eh! J
  • You can then find out how many calories you burned that day, how long you’ve been active, the steps that you have taken and how long you have slept restfully. You can input your weight here too, if it changes, and find out whether you received an ‘inactivity stamp,’ i.e. if you haven’t moved enough. I have received two inactivity stamps so far.
  • You have a final option to record how you feel/felt that day too/
  • You also have a ‘Notifications’ tab for any messages Polar sends you and a ‘Settings’ section, which shows your account details and how to sync your Polar Loop 2

  • Next is your training diary and for that, I will need to tell you how to set up your H7 Heart Rate Bluetooth Sensor and download the Polar Beat app to complete the setup.

 Polar Beat – Fitness Coach app

The Polar Beat app is all about being your training companion. Whether you are serious about running more, getting in some strength training at the gym (or, in my case, at home with Tony Horton’s P90X3 DVD series) or gentle yoga for recovery, the Polar Beat app is perfect for monitoring your heart rate and calories burned* and how fit you are becoming health-wise. It interprets quite accurately your workout data, so you’ll know what your body has achieved and what to do to meet your goals more effectively.

“The Polar Beat acts like a personal trainer in your palm” – Mashable.com

Options that can be set on the Polar Beat app are:

  • Choose your training target – you can choose to concentrate on burning calories*, beating a certain time or setting a distance record
  • Choose your activity – Polar Beat can be used for pretty much any exercise, indoors or outdoors.
  • Training at the right intensity* – Polar Beat uses real-time graphical and voice guidance on how to meet your training goals (I set my training goal once to ‘running’ by accident but practised yoga instead and the female voice kept telling me to ‘speed up’. So, make sure you’re in the right setting or it can become quite annoying!)
  • Track distance, pace and route while walking, running or cycling
  • You can even listen to music while you’re are training

Post-exercise data analysis

  • Now, this is the fun part – you can see what you have achieved with each workout – whether you improved your endurance, increased your strength or burned fat*
  • Understand the impact of your workout at different intensity levels*
  • Get the most accurate calorie tracking – even while exercising indoors*
  • Re-live your running routes on the map and get motivation from weekly summaries
  • You can share your results with your friends on Facebook and Twitter – Make sure to tweet me your progress too, using #rethinkyourday to @M_Diaries

Upgrades to boost your training experience

  • All-inclusive* – This is the app I’ve bought as it includes all of the following training features:
  • Polar Fitness test* – Measure your fitness levels while you lie down and relax!
  • Running Index* – Shows how your running performance is developing.
  • EnergyPointer* – See the main effect of your workout in real-time – whether you’re burning fat or improving fitness.
  • Benefit Target* – Set specific training targets – like boosting recovery or improving endurance – and get guidance to achieve it.

Discover more about Polar Beat at www.polar.com/beat or Google Play Store

*For best results, you need to hook the Polar Beat app up to your Polar Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor.

How to set up the H7 Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Sensor – including set up with Polar Beat app

It is very simple to set up your H7 Heart Rate Sensor.

  • You receive one strap (in my case, a pink strap) and a Bluetooth heart rate connector.
  • The plastic electrode area on the back of the strap detects the heart rate and the connector sends the heart rate signal to the receiving device, in our case the Polar Loop 2 bracelet.
  • Moisten the electrode areas of the strap and attach the connector (watch it as it’s quite cold on the skin – I flinch every time)
  • Adjust the strap length so it fits tightly, but comfortably and then tie the strap around your chest, just below the chest muscles.
  • Hook the straps together using the hook provided
  • Then you simply connect the Bluetooth connector to the straps and you’re ready.
  • You will first need to pair the Heart Rate Sensor with Polar Beat, which is very simple to do. Follow the instructions given and then you should see your heart rate blinking on the screen and your Polar Loop 2 device.
  • I started with the Polar Fitness Test after upgrading my Polar Beat package, which is literally just lying down really still for 5 minutes whilst the Polar Beat app works with the heart rate sensor to determine how fit you are. I started right at the very beginning of my Polar training journey and I’m ‘Moderately fit’, so I’d like to boost that to high/athletic by the end of the three months.
  • After use, detach the connector from the strap and rinse the strap under running water. Sweat and moisture may keep the electrodes wet and heart rate sensor activated, which will reduce the transmitter battery life.

You can find more information on the H7 Heart Rate Sensor and how to look after it online.

What you get on the Polar Loop 2 Bracelet after full set up is complete

Your settings on the Polar Loop 2 are now completely personalised and unique to you only. You will still have all the display features as explained above, but there are some few added gems now that you’ve hooked up your phone and heart rate sensor to your Polar Loop 2 bracelet.

  • Your bracelet will now vibrate “MESSAGE” every time you get a notification on your phone. Rather excitingly, I now get notifications on my bracelet when an opponent has rolled their dice on Yahtzee with Buddies. Yes, I am very addicted…
  • When you have your H7 Heart Rate Sensor in place, ready for a training session, your bracelet has an additional setting, it displays your heart rate! You can be sitting still or running around, but it’s very helpful to monitor your heart rate, even when you’re not by your phone or computer.

So, now that you are completely set up, you should now know what all the entries mean on your Polar Loop 2, Polar Flow web service/app version and your Polar Beat app. If not, you’re welcome to email me any questions you have (leyla@motherhooddiaries.com), as I’ve become quite a fanatic now and I am madly in love with the Polar Loop 2 and H7 Heart Rate Sensor Bluetooth bundle. I do believe that it has, indeed, encouraged me to be more active and I even noticed hubby doing some stretches earlier, whilst examining his black ‘manly’ Polar Loop 2 version. So, there’s progress all-round!

You can also learn more about your Polar Loop 2 from the full-length user manual, FAQs and tutorial videos at polar.com/support/Loop2.

Here is my December training activity in detail:

It has been difficult to stay fit and active during the Christmas and New Year festivities, but January is all about positivity and getting serious about becoming fit and healthy. I really like the motivation messages I receive from Polar to summarise how active/inactive I’ve been that day and how I have benefited my heart and health in general. You can find these messages in the December activity images above. In January, I hope to read more messages like the one I received on Thursday 17 December.

I’m going to start sharing my fitness journey on Facebook and Twitter, so please join me, tweeting @M_Diaries your results and using #rethinkyourday. Let’s spur each other on to get more fit, active, healthier and happier with the family in 2016. I know what my resolution is for this brand new year. What is yours?

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Leyla Preston (525 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 5, and Aidan, 4. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked! You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: https://www.facebook.com//groups/motherhooddiaries/