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Posted: 1/29/2011 10:01:02 PM EDT
When considering preparedness, we often put the main focus on returning to low tech, sustainable technologies that can endure in the event of a serious disruption to society. I agree that this is both wise and appropriate. However, it’s a mistake to ignore the advantages offered by modern technology. While perhaps not sustainable for a lifetime, many technologies could be sustained for decades if proper power sources are stored away. I would argue that we should make plans that allow us to benefit from every technology currently available. In the past year I have become acquainted with modern wristwatch trainers. After extensive use, I have come to the conclusion that they can offer many advantages both now and in various hypothetical survival scenarios.

Wristwatch trainers are designed to aid in the achievement of sports and fitness goals. They measure such things as steps taken, speed and distance traveled, elevation, calories burned and heart rate. Heart rate monitoring originally emerged in the 1980s. It used to be very expensive and available only to the wealthy or to athletes affiliated with well funded programs. Thirty years later, the technology is now very affordable ($100-$400) and the electronics are small enough to fit inside a normal wristwatch. In fact, the only requirement to use a modern trainer is that you must wear a heart rate wireless transmitter, which is typically worn around the chest in the form of a strap. Some men may scoff at this, but it probably won’t seem much of a burden to women who have been wearing straps around their chests for quite some time. I find that it’s a minor discomfort which is quickly forgotten when I am engaged in any sort of work or fitness activity. The advantages far outweigh any other considerations. This technology has proven fantastic for motivating me to achieve my fitness goals. I have a Polar FT60 wristwatch trainer, and it has a built in training program that works quite well. It asks the user to decide what they wish to achieve with their training, and then it creates a customized program based on personal goals as well as height, age and current weight. It keeps track of weekly hours of activity at different exertion levels (based on heart rate) and it keeps one from over training by limiting the hours of activity at each level, as well as limiting the overall cumulative hours of training per week. It keeps track of calories burned for each session and for the week, as well as the user’s resting heart rate to gauge progress in the fitness program. In one year of training with this system, I have lost 50 pounds, and at the age of 32 I am now in the best shape of my life. Trainers like those offered by Polar, Garmin or Suunto will help your training to be as effective and efficient as possible, and the ability to monitor stats and workouts provides amazing levels of motivation. If you use it, it will help you achieve any fitness goals you may have.

Obviously, being fit is a big advantage in any difficult or hazardous situations that could arise. This is why the armed forces put such an emphasis on physical fitness. It makes one more capable of physical feats, as well as imparting confidence and mental health benefits. I have read stories of how Swedish resistance fighters were able to stay free from German capture by using mountaineering and cross country skiing skills that the German soldiers couldn’t match. Al Qaeda’s forces remain out of the reach of our modern armed forces, largely because our technologies are not able to function at high elevations and in rugged, mountainous terrain. Outdoor skills, strength and stamina have been and will remain vital in many different types of ordeals. It is time well spent to get as fit as possible now so that we are ready when trouble hits, and also so that we can live long, healthy lives.

This technology would have many advantages during a disaster or extended crisis. Monitoring heart rate provides a very accurate calculation of calories burned. If you have a limited supply of food that must last a period of time (such as through the winter), then you can use a trainer to dictate your daily exertion levels and to monitor calories used. Also, if you must travel during the winter, you can use the technology to guide your effort levels in order to avoid sweating. It’s a simple matter to set lock the watch into a certain heart rate range, and it will give an audible warning if the user goes above or below the set range. It’s critical not to get damp in serious cold weather conditions, as high exertion levels cannot be maintained and the water conducts heat away from your body at rapid rates. Using a wireless footpod transmitter, these trainers can also record with good accuracy your speed and distance traveled when running or walking. One can use GPS modules with the watches to achieve the same thing, but the pod would work even after a collapse of our GPS infrastructure. Knowing speed and distance traveled would be very useful when traveling on foot after a serious societal collapse. Of course, the trainer also functions as a trip timer and always works as a 12/24 hour watch with day and date.

An argument could be made that there’s no point in acquiring this technology for preparedness purposes because it will become useless after the batteries die out. I would argue, why not use it as long as possible? The batteries last 3-5 years in the watch, and 1-2 years in the heart rate modules. My watch uses standard lithium coin cell batteries that can be acquired in bulk for a dollar each, and these batteries will store well for 10-15 years. They would probably work even beyond that time, they simply wouldn’t have a full charge when inserted into the device. It would not be cost prohibitive to lay in an adequate supply of batteries to keep this technology at one's disposal for ~20 years. That period of time may well take you through any crisis you might encounter, and if not, it will be a valuable tool for the long period of time that it lasts. Wristwatch trainers are valuable now to get one’s body fit and healthy, and should prove valuable tools during prolonged calamitous events.
Link Posted: 1/29/2011 10:13:03 PM EDT
In b4 the EMP crowd.
Link Posted: 1/30/2011 4:55:14 AM EDT
Yeah, but what about an EMP blast?
Maybe if I put it in my safe and ground the safe...

Welcome, new guy. Thought provoking first post. Well done.
Link Posted: 1/30/2011 5:26:13 AM EDT
I would say that for me....the main reason to have a watch would be to make sure that I don't miss my watch rotation......don't need to piss off the person watching my back.

If you're fit....you don't need a watch to stay so....nor you heart rate monitored......I'm not saying this wouldn't be nice....but just not really that necessary.

If you are in a urban area.....I feel pretty certain your heart rate will stay "elevated".....and time will be fairly irrelevant until life returns to some type of normal day to day routine.

I feel your needs will be more primal.....and lean toward more primitive.....thus...returning to the farmer mentality....awake when you need to be....work....go to sleep.

Now if you have a bunker that you have stocked with provisions.....and you won't need to worry about food, shelter, or security.....then hey....knock you self out....a nice watch and monitor would be a good thing to time filter changes and water cycling...etc.

That being said...I have a few nice watches....and if the crap hits the wind genny....they are coming with me.....

BTW.....Welcome to the SF fewli0....good to have ya here...
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