The quantified self movement has made measuring various aspects of our lives incredibly easy. Nowhere has this trend taken hold more than in exercise. As an amateur cyclist, I can easily record everything from my average heart rate, power output on the bike, distance covered all the way to the number of calories I consume each day. The list really is endless and for the sufficiently motivated, there will always be data at hand to satisfy your craving.
One frequent topic on the cycling forums is that of over training, and various ad hoc methods seem to exist for determining whether you are over trained, ranging from your general feel to areas such as your resting heart rate.
A new device aims to take a slightly more scientific approach. The app, called Check, attaches to your hand and takes various readings to determine your general level of fatigue, and therefore how fit you are for a workout that day.
Check has been developed by the Finnish company FAM Sports, and rests in the palm of your hand. An electrode is attached simultaneously to both your wrist and your thumb. A small current is then sent through the muscles to test your peripheral muscle reflexes, with the aim being to determine your phsyiological and neurological state. The belief is that if you’re fatigued from previous workouts, or indeed from daily stresses, your reflexes won’t be as sharp. The basis of this test derived from the horse racing industry. FAM suggest that horses reacted slower to a pulse when they were fatigued.
Alongside this test, a questionnaire is given to users to explore how exhausted they feel, coupled with the amount of training they’ve done in the past 24 hours. This, combined with the previous test, comes together to provide a ‘training readiness’ score out of 100, with the higher the score, the more ready you are for more training.
So how valid is this? Well, FAM suggest that there has been extensive research into this method of monitoring and measuring fatigue, but they don’t provide any references to these studies on there site, although they are available in this document FAM supplied to me. Have a look and see what you think.