Alessandro Gonella

My first months with a Smart band

I’ve never really liked the idea of wearing a Smartwatch or an activity tracker on my wrist. I think I stopped wearing watches in middle school: after all, who needs it when we all have a smartphone in our pockets?

I’m trying to approach Minimalism, and the last thing that I want is to spend money on another device that I don’t need. Also, recently I’m trying to avoid all kind of notifications: you don’t really need to be interrupted every 5 minutes by your phone, and surely not by a device that buzz on your arm. So what’s the purpose of a Smart band?

I decided to give the Xiaomi Mi Band 5 a try for monitoring my sleep (“Why we sleep” played a role here) and also my fitness activity during the day. When I bought it I wasn’t in my “digital detox” yet, so reading text messages without taking my phone seemed also nice (I’ve now disabled this feature).

How was it?

Monitoring your sleep with the Xiaomi Mi Band

One of the newest features is the Sleeping Monitor. Sleeping with something on my wrist wasn’t something I was used to, so it was a little bit weird at first. I’m not really comfortable with the Band’s sensors lights, blinking from time to time: it has been proven that even a small led ligth in the room can make your sleep worst.

Anyway, the results are what I expected: I don’t sleep as much as I should, I go to bed too late, and my deep sleep is not enough. The last point is the hardest one: after a few months I still have to find a way to improve it. Some things that work are:

  • Going to sleep earlier
  • Reducing stress
  • Exercise
  • Sleep in a complete dark environment

Monitoring the fitness activity

I decided to turn on the full time Heart monitor. If you disable it, the battery will last longer, but I can reach a week of use anyway. Monitoring exercises, walks, runs etc is nice (if you pair the Band with the Mi Fit App you can track your GPS position too. I’m using an arm band for my phone) and gives you some nice stats to read. The most useful is the PAI indicator.

What is PAI?

From the official website:

PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence) is a science-backed health score that measures the heart health impact of physical activity. It gives you a personalized score, based on your profile and heart rate data to tell you if you’re doing enough, measuring what matters and keeping you motivated.

Basically you get a score, based on the cardio activity you made on the last 7 days. If this score is above 100 you’re ok, otherwise you need to move your ass. That’s a nice and simple way to understand if you’re exercising enough.

If you share your data with Google Fit you will get another similar score (they call it Cardio points). The scale is different (you need to get to 150), but the concept is pretty much the same.

Is it worth it?

So, I’m not using the Smart Band for reading notifications (except incoming calls). I’m just monitoring my sleep and tracking exercising and all-day heart beats, and I have to say that it’s helping me a lot.

I know my sleep will be tracked, so I try to do the best to read that I’m going good on the app. But especially for my cardio activities: I now I want to keep my PAI above 100, so whenever I can I go for a walk or a run. I also started to go to work by bicycle. I mean, I’m maintaining a healthier lifestyle to not drop my fitness score. For less than 30€, I have to say that’s completely worth it.

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