Taking a Look at the Polar M400 Heart Rate Monitoring GPS Watch – Daily Activity Tracking

I’ve had the Polar M400 for the past two weeks and have had an opportunity to really put it to use, both in outdoor activities (cycling and running) and extensively with indoor use. So far I’ve been amazed at how solid of a heart rate monitor, and daily activity tracker, this watch is!

For transparency purposes, I will mention that I am a Polar Ambassador however the opinions and discussions in this article (and this blog) are my own.

The Polar A300, M400, and V800 are almost the next evolution of Polar products. Today’s technology on our wrists is more than a simple watch and, in Polar’s case, more than a heart rate monitor. The evolution of the watch is that they are now daily activity trackers (i.e. steps taken, approximate calories burned in your daily life, sleep habits). Additionally Polar has evolved their watches into incorporating feedback within the watch itself, based on how you are doing for the day.

The way I distinguish the three watches is like this .. The Polar A300 is targeted more towards the indoor fitness enthusiast, one who wants to monitor their heart rate but may not need GPS tracking. If you want a device with GPS tracking, that is where the M400 is a good fit for you. The V800 is the highest in the series, aimed at serious athletes and triathletes.

Over a series of blogs we will both take a look at the Polar M400. In the process we’ll also take a look at Polar’s new Flow website, which is pretty spectacular on it’s own!

My intention is to dive into different parts of the watch over time as to not be overwhelming in one monstrous blog. But trust me, it will be worth reading 🙂 . For now let’s look at the daily activity tracking aspects of this watch.

Daily Activity Tracking The M400 has the ability to track your daily activity, which includes steps, inactivity, approximate / smart calories, and sleep patterns.

Polar M400 - Daily Activity Screens
Polar M400 Daily Activity: Top Left – Shows the empty bar when little steps have been taken. Top Right – When you meet your goal that bar is full! Bottom Left & Right shows the feedback that watch provides as your day progresses!

Steps / Daily Activity:

Polar M400 GPS Watch - Showing Daily Activity Needed to Reach Your Goal
Polar M400 GPS Watch – Showing Daily Activity Needed to Reach Your Goal (argh .. fuzzy photo but I’ll have to try to remember to replace it tomorrow!)

The watch, by default will track the steps that you take within a day, comparing that to the goal that you set for yourself when you first setup the watch (NOTE: I set my goal at the highest level for myself so I have to work a bit harder to make my goals!).

One of the watch faces will show a bar along the bottom (as shown in the image to the left), giving you a quick view into your current steps for the day.

If you want more detailed feedback, you can easily go into the menu to see how many actual steps it has logged for the day, how much active time you have had, and also an estimate on how many calories that you have burned for the day.

Additionally, the Polar M400 will tell you how much of each different activity it will take for you to reach your daily goal (i.e. XX minutes of walking, XX minutes of jogging, etc) as shown in the screenshot to the right.

Inactivity Monitor:

When you are inactive for an extended period of time you can set the watch to alert you to get moving! This is great for people who have jobs where they are sedentary for long periods of time (like my day job!). It will beep at you and give you a message, gently nudging you to get moving!

When it beeps at me while I’m at work it’s always when I feel like a drone in front of my computer, and could really use the walk, so I am enjoying the nudge to get moving!

Additionally, Flow, which will will talk about later, keeps track of your inactivity alerts so you can see when you were idle, and also how that hopefully improves over time.

Smart Calories:

As shown in the image above, approximate calories burned are also tracked on the Polar M400 based on your daily activity. These are great to give you a rough estimate on how many calories we expend in a day through our daily activities, whether it’s sitting, walking, or exercising.

Sleep patterns:

Screenshot of Polar Flow, showing the breakdown of activities
Screenshot of Polar Flow, showing the breakdown of activities

So, this is nice!

Coming from the fitbit world, in order to log your sleep you had to tell the Fitbit One when you were going to bed and then tell it when you woke up. Guess what happened? I logged my sleep twice and never since. I’m lazy!!

On the Polar M400 it will realize your are asleep automatically based on your inactivity. That is fantastic!

If you look at the image to the left, taking a sneak peek into the mobile app it breaks down my different activities, from sleeping to vigorous exercise.

Are you asking what those hearts are? I thought you were. Those are the times I used the Polar M400 with my heart rate monitor in order to track specific exercise.

Since there are no other icons on the screen that means that I have not have any inactivity nudges today .. woohoo! … … although I suspect that I’ll get one soon as I’m sitting here writing this 🙂

So, that is a nice overview of the daily activity tracking on the Polar M400. Expect more talks to come soon as we will look at what else it has to offer! I’m also going to start blogging about the Polar A300 as well, so be on the lookout!

If you have any specific topics that you’d like me to cover, please let me know in the comments! Also, if you’d like to see all of the blog posts I’ve written on the Polar M400 I’ve made an easy tag for that! (I’ll be adding more soon!)

Thanks for reading!

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