DIY fitness analysis graphs

Fitness analysis devices have developed so quickly over the last few years that what was thought to be schmick not that long ago is now very dated.

Heart rate monitors (HRMs) have evolved from simple HR measurement tools into devices that measure heart rate, track your training route via GPS and allow uploads to your PC, or to online analysis sites like Garmin Connect.

These days, anything you buy for your school should have the following as standard:

  • PC connectivity and software that allows exchange of data between device and PC
  • GPS
  • HRM
  • Functions that will provide results for analysis (eg. speed, distance, time, calories burned, altitude, climb and descent)

For school use something like this would be great.

But if you’re like me, you’ve invested in technology already and don’t have an opportunity to re-invest, then making do with what you’ve got can be just as effective.

I created the graph below using my iPhone (I know iPhones may not be common amongst students, but who knows what the future may hold?) and an app called Runkeeper Pro, and my very dated Garmin Forerunner 50 (which only records HR data). I think it is a very presentable graph that I could use in class, or ask my students to create themselves.

I now have speed, elevation and heart rate all on the one graph. To create the image, I used the internet, the Runkeeper site, the Garmin Connect site and software installed on the DER laptops

Here’s how I did it.

  1. Recorded an activity on my Forerunner 50 HRM. Upload the Forerunner data to Garmin Connect (you’ll need an account, but it’s free) using the ANT connector. Log into Garmin Connect, view the HRM graph, snip it using the Snipper tool in Windows 7 and save it as a JPEG.
  2. After completing the activity with Runkeeper Pro running, save the activity. The data is then uploaded to the Runkeeper site (you’ll need an account to access your data)
  3. Log into Runkeeper, view the activity graph, snip it using the Snipper tool in Windows 7 and save it as a JPEG
  4. Using Photoshop, layer one graph on top of the other, making one about 65% transparent so that you can see them on top of each other. There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to do this.
  5. Save the final result as a JPEG.

Kids at school could do the image manipulation, analyse the data and then upload a final report (including the graph) as a PDF to Moodle, BlogED or in any other paperless way you care to mention.

I know that handheld GPS units will record speed, distance and elevation but they may be beyond the budget of a PE faculty to buy more than 1 or 2 .  If you can purchase, make sure they can move the data to a PC before you buy, like this one, or this one

If you know of a way that records speed, distance & elevation via GPS and can be uploaded to a PC, other than using an iPhone or a handheld GPS, please let me know.

For me it was great to know I could do it with what I had and without having to beg for a new device (at home or at school!)

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3 thoughts on “DIY fitness analysis graphs”

  1. I use Runkeeper Pro on my iPhone also, it my favourite and most frequently used app. I have often thought about how to integrate the HR information into and this post is what I was after.

    I dream of the day when this type of technology is cheaper and more prevalent amongst the students. As a PE teacher this type of learning is invaluable on so many levels.

    • Thanks for reading the post, and for your comment.
      I share your hope regarding the cost of equipment, but if you can get one class up and running, and then report to the powers that be the inevitable rise in engagement of students, your job asking for more cash gets much easier 🙂 Good luck on your ed tech journey.


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