One visit to Disneyland = 16,000 steps. The Withings Pulse Tested

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You may remember my love affair with my Fitbit – oh how happy it made me when it’s little flower grew each day, how I loved getting emails telling me I’d climbed the equivalent of the World’s Tallest Pencil. Then it stopped talking to my computer and our love affair ended. I’d never found another device to keep me moving until the Withings Pulse plopped onto my desk. Smaller than the Fitbit, a bit more suave and masculine looking and with a swooshy touchscreen, it was Blaine to the Fitbit’s Duckie*.

Fix it to your waistband or bra (or, very cleverly even put it in your pocket) and it will measure steps, calories, distance, and elevation. Stick your finger on the back and it’ll measure your heart rate, attach it your arm while you sleep and it’ll work out how rested you are and suggest if you need to take care of yourself. It’s like the best boyfriend ever.

To test our relationship therefore I took it on a romantic holiday to Disneyland.



I’ve always been fascinated by how far you walk in when visiting a theme park- after all if you’ve ever done a 12 hour stint at Disneyworld in Orlando you’ll know that by the time you get back to your hotel room your feet are killing you. Because I was running so far – and I was in Disneyland which is much smaller than Disneyworld – I didn’t have to do 12 hours stints, but I was in the park from opening at 9 or 10am for about four hours, then I’d walk back to my hotel, lounge by the pool for a bit, and walk back about 4pm for another two hours attempting not to be a grown up. On this trip the Pulse came with me and the answer to my question was that on both days I did this, I racked up close to 16,000 steps – that’s the equivalent of 8 miles! No wonder your feet ache – and I did one of those days AFTER running the half marathon. Sadly I didn’t wear the gizmo to run – I’d have had major bragging rights that day.

The Pulse itself is very easy to use – well except for linking it to the app, which I completely gave up with as it kept crashing. This does kind of defeat the object of the added technology as linking gives you lots more whizzy info in the forms of comparison charts, and you can link it to fitness apps like Runkeeper and even your scales if you have the right ones, but in my world, life is too short to spend it yelling ‘download and link you *******’ at your iphone and all I really want to know is how far I’m walking and how many calories that means I can eat later and that information is on the screen. Do not assume however that this mean the app does not work. I am EXTREMELY technologically challenged and so my experience with that side of things should never really be trusted.

I also didn’t bother with its ability to measure sleep – whilst I was away my sleep was a mess due to getting up between 3 and 4am to run and I didn’t want a gadget stressing me out about it. When I’m at home I sleep like a log, I don’t need a machine to tell me that. What it seems I do need though are things like the little growing FitBit flower to keep me moving – now I’m back from my trip I’m back into ‘stuck at my desk’ mode and just looking at the numbers on the screen isn’t quite enough to get me off my butt. The result was that yesterday’s total was a paltry 945 steps and I had no inclination to raise it.


One thing that did impress me though is that it’s fairly waterproof.  How do I know this? Because I decided to rinse out some clothes in my hotel room. In went what I’d been wearing that day for a soak. An hour later as I swished around the clothing I found an unexpected hard lump – much swearing ensued as my brain worked out what it was, much amazement ensued when I pulled it out to find it was still working. That’s pretty impressive. I’m not sure what would happen on a full washing machine spin cycle, but it’s reassuring to know there might be some chance of survival if you throw it into the laundry with your undies.

So, in summary, technologically it’s a great gadget with a heap of bells and whistles, but as a motivator, you need to be self disciplined – or turned on by graphs and pie charts and tech savvy enough to link it to the app – for it to truly motivate you. If that sounds like your kind of thing though, you might want to add it to your Christmas list.

Helen’s Weight Update – we haven’t had one of these for a while have we!

Admittedly, pie chart motivation is also something I may have to get into. Sadly despite running a very long way in Disneyland – and walking just as far, I gained a few pounds (three to be precise) on the bagels, burritos and beer diet I adopted while in the US. I know that isn’t many, but it’s enough to tip me into tight waistbands and a high BMI. I am therefore on mission fitness and living on planet no-carbs for a bit as of tomorrow………wish me luck

* If you have no idea what I mean here, but love a rom-com, download Pretty In Pink.. You can thank me later.


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  1. Forrest

    Another great way to motivate yourself to use devices like this is a competition. We’re having one at work, everybody was given a Fitbit One, and there will be cash prizes handed out depending on how many steps people have taken per day throughout the summer. I’ve averaged 14,330 steps per day since July 22; occasionally one of my peers will beat my record, which sends me on a 6 or 7 mile walk around the neighborhood.

    As a bonus, I get to enjoy peoples’ gardens and small parks as I go, delightful little things I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise, and it gives me time to be alone with my thoughts and relax.

    1. healthehelen

      Excellent idea. I work at home and share my office with a goldfish; I’m thinkiing the prize is already mine. I like this game.

      1. Forrest

        Well, sometimes I put my fitbit on my cat’s collar, and use the laser pointer to send her back and forth across the room after she’s been into the ‘nip, so the competition is fierce on my end. 😉

      2. healthehelen

        Brilliant; will mock up device with a fish flake on the end and try it with her. I’ve already said the Pulse is waterproof.

  2. Pingback: Known Issue – Withings Pulse | The way I Run my life this thing on? Talk to me, it's lonely down here

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