How does the Bodybugg work?

28 Jun

The Bodybugg consists of three parts:

1. The arm band

The arm band measures your calorie burn rate in real time based on your body temperature, moisture and motion. It claims to be about 90% accurate, and having worn one for 18 months I’d days that’s about right.

You wear it on the back of your arm, like this:

When you’re exercising (or not), it’s taking measurements the whole time and storing them in its memory until you connect it to a computer to download the data, or until you sync it with the watchband.

Note that there is a newer, black version that I haven’t tried yet. 

It uses an AAA battery, which I’ve found needs to be replaced every 2-3 weeks or so.

2. The optional watchband

The watchband lets you see the key data in the Bodybugg during the day.

It’ll show you:

  • today’s calories burned so far
  • estimated steps taken (like a pedometer)
  • moderate exercise activity (in minutes)

You can also have it show you any of those measures on a “trip” basis, like the odometer on your car, you can set it to 0 and watch your progress. What’s cool about that is it also shows the calories/minute detected. If you reset it, then go for a run or a bike ride, you can see the numbers constant changing and increasing or decreasing along with your effort.

It will also show you your targets for each of those: calories burned per day, steps, and moderate exercise activity. Occasionally you have to sync it by pressing the button on the watchband, then on the Bodybugg, which then wirelessly syncs to display the data.

You can also see the actuals for yesterday, if you wish.

Finally, it shows you the current time (you know, like a watch!)

Do you need the watch? It is optional, but I find the watch to be critical and I check it often during the day. I highly recommend it.

3. The Bodybugg Website

The Bodybugg website is where you track your food intake, see trends in calories over long time spans, set your goals and manage your Bodybugg overall. It’s where I get the meal/calorie/nutrition screenshots I post on this blog as well as some of the targets I selected.

It’s an important piece too, since it shows you side by side what you burned vs what you took in.

For example, corresponding to my 6/28/10 entry, the main Bodybugg screen looks like this:


Note the graph at the bottom – that big burst of activity is me riding my bike to Farrell’s, doing the 45 minute cardio-kickboxing routine, and then riding my bike home after!

Importantly, it makes it easy to enter your food during the day, in the same six-meal plan that Farrell’s recommends. It has lots of foods already in the system, or you can add your own in about 30 seconds if you have the nutrition info in front of you:


It also tracks your weight and body fat over time, so you can see your long term progress (or lack thereof):



And there’s much, much more than this.

If you’re analytical in nature, like me, you can see why this is so cool: the cause and effect of what you’re doing, or not doing, is plain as day. You can dissect your performance, see what’s working and what’s not.

It’s not a perfect device, however, though my complaints are pretty minor.

  • It can get fooled by certain activities like driving on a bumpy road for a long time period seems to sometimes have it register like you’re exercising.
  • You can’t wear it in water, so no swimming with it on or running in the rain.
  • The watch is kinda dorky looking, and scratches easily.
  • The ongoing web account gets kinda pricy over time.

But those quibbles aside, I love this danged gadget and, as much as I love the Farrell’s stuff, I love the science and data that the Bodybugg provides to give me insight into my body and my workouts that would otherwise be invisible.

And – I can keep track of my six meal food intake quickly and easily, which is imperative for Farrell’s to work well for you.


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