All posts by Tim Hanrahan

How Brain.FM can transform the way you work, sleep, and meditate

This past Monday I was introduced to a new app that I have since experimented with this week and have already concluded will change the way I work. Brain.fm can transform work, relaxation and sleep for you too. It takes 30 minutes to try, is free of charge, and for you too, it may also change the way you sleep or meditate.

The app is called Brain.FM and my first exposure to it was by attenting a Chicago Biohacking Meetup and hearing about it straight from the founders, Junaid Kalmadi and Adam Hewett. Their overall goal is to cure ADD, anxiety, and insomnia through their digital health app that emits audio brainwave training. The sessions are analyzed and EEG tested, with much of it coming from Northwestern University neuroscientist Dr. Giovanni Santostasi. His published results are here.

Their data has been further grounded by over 12 years of research, working with 35,000 customers, and over 180 studies conducted to continue the growth of audio brainwave technology across this time.

The information and their backing are both important to know before trying Brain.FM for the first time without any skepticism. I had the advantage of hearing both founders illustrate their passion and belief for Brain.FM in person. So needless to say, I was excited to try it for the first time during the rest of my work week. Here are my first impressions and a walk through of how to use Brain.FM.

Brain.fm can transform

The first great thing about Brain.FM is that it allows you to try it for free. So while you’re reading this, I suggest you follow along and hit the Focus option of the 3 that you’re initially presented above.

As you can see, the app can cover a lot. My primary interest is to improve my work efficiency so I used 3 of my 5 free sessions on Focus — two on ‘Intense Focus’ and one on their other subset of ‘Relaxed Focus’ to see the difference.

Brain.fm can transform

The comforting pop-up illustrated above again underscores the research and testing behind the brainwave session. It turns out, “Benefits should be realized almost immediately while listening to this session,” was 100% accurate as well.

You see, I’ve been searching for a new form of an audio compliment lately. I used to be able to work with hip hop or R&B in my headphones, and most recently podcasts, but I’ve found this summer that I am more easily distracted to the words and this slightest attention switch throws me off my focus. With Brain.FM, I was greeted with a 30 minute continuous instrumental that featured a calm, almost march-like melody to go along with a variety of orchestral or percussion layers. The sound wasn’t too complex and actually reminded me of the old computer game Age of Empires. If you played that game too, you can instantly think of the brooding instrumentals that accompanied your rising empire. I felt the motivational nostalgia, that’s for sure.

After the 30 minute session, I was prompted by another cool feature of Brain.FM — a survey intended to build your own personal, unique brian profile. Answer questions honestly about not only your focus, but anxiety, mood, stress, and sleep and Brain.FM will calibrate a sound that works best for your needs.

Brain.fm can transform

I underwent one more ‘Intense Focus’ 30 minute session afterwards and proved that the productivity of the first one was not a fluke. In fact, I started writing this post in that session!

To further test the app, I tried a ‘Relaxed Focus’ session while doing less pressing work. The instrumental was, naturally, more calmer and slower than the ‘Intense Focus’ track. I felt immediately transferred to the same zone as before, but this time I was only able to sustain focus for the first 20 of the 30 minutes. Then I was back to browsing my Twitter feed… so I’ll probably be sticking to what worked for 100% of the time: ‘Intense Focus’.

Next, I tried the ‘Sleep’ track last night. I usually have no trouble sleeping but when I was tossing and turning for 10 minutes, I decided to put my headphones in. Once again, there is an instaneous transplant inside your mind. You’re encouraged by Brain.FM to let your mind wander a bit and I did as I first noticed the sounds itself: a soothing thunderstorm in the distance combined with slow, wavy layers of strings.

I had to round out the capabilities of Brain.FM and test the ‘Relax’ feature as well. I didn’t use it to meditate but I did take a stretching break with the soundtrack in my headphones and again immediately felt a change within. This time, I noticed a sense of relief, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Within 1 minute, I felt more air flowing into and inside my body with each breathe. These tracks are 15 minutes long and I intend to combine them effectively with the ‘Focus’ sessions.

* * * *

By now, you can see that my first impressions of Brain.FM are more than favorable. I want to sign up beyond the free sessions now and test the app more with my productivity. Right now, I can apply the same DIY Tracker that I used for my Coffee Intake QS Experiment and click the option for “A very high boost.”

Taking it a step further, it would be interesting not only to see black and white results in one’s productivity but also to track your vitals and see how it flows during a session. I told Paul about Brain.FM this week too and he’s already experimenting with the app for more data along these lines. Look out for his impressions and takeaways in the coming weeks.

Brain.fm can transform
Brain.FM presents at the Chicago Biohacking Meetup 09.14.15

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The future of quantifying our memories

The short answer to the quantifying our memories: a new app called Compass.

But first, let me explore how I got there.

This week, I’m taking my weekly writeup in a different direction (no pun intended.) A few of my recent quantified self experiments are simply requiring more time and data to evolve. I am still tracking my coffee intake before working out, and now I’m starting to gather more Moves data from those actual workouts. I can begin to see new conclusions forming, but am still stuck with a small sample size.

This limbo phase inspired me, however, to reflect to a time earlier this year before I had all the new tracking apps on my iPhone 6 upgrade. How else have I conducted my own quantified self experiments? What old data can I uncover?

Then it hit me: I have actually been tracking my travels for years. Thanks to Facebook.

I know this isn’t some revolutionary “light bulb moment” here. The majority of us are already aware of Facebook Places. Past check-ins and geotags on photos are aggregated into this data map below and you can sort your places by most recently visited and cities as a whole.

But today for the first time I viewed my destinations in a quantified self lens. Here are a couple of conclusions I easily arrived at: there are still so many cities in the U.S. I want to see and OH YEAH, I need to travel out of the country!

map-final
This is literally the entire world I’ve explored with my own eyes. I don’t even have a passport. But onto my next point…

The other cool feature of Facebook Places is if you hover over one of these data points, it pops up photos taken from that city. For example:

places-ny

 

So this begged the question: Where can we go from here with this data? It’s nice and heartwarming to revisit memories from places we visit, but then what?

That question triggered what I believe may be the answer: a new app coming out called Compass.

This is not some paid promotion. I am genuinely excited about this app and was introduced to it by the creator of Compass himself, Chris Dancy.

He spoke at the QS conference in San Francisco this summer and first established his overall philosophy to design with compassion. Dancy then presented Compass, the way to carry out his positive intention.

One key feature of the app, as it contrasts to Facebook up above, is that Compass shows us our memories in combination with a visualization of our data (see: above.) These photos may come with small reminders to keep us focused on a goal or even a behavior it automatically detects from us (see: the bottom left photo below.)

The result is Compass as a guide —  a friend — there to motivate us and help improve our wellness along the way.

I signed up as an Alpha tester soon after the conference and was able to experience the app first hand. Right off the bat, Compass was the most beautifully designed interface I have seen to date for a QS tracker.

You can view your entire day with a quick spin of the compass. You can view the breakdown your daily activities there, or in a timeline manner below. After a few days, Compass even began to predict my activities later in the day; for instance, an idea of what time I would be home for the night.

In my one month trial, I noted a few differences in my own personal behavior. I was exploring the Bay Area at the time and was even more alert to document my day with photos, specifically to see it in Compass. That spark alone is exciting enough to imagine the data it opens up (plus, I can be a nostalgic sap sometimes :))

It was clear that within days of getting settled with the app, Compass has the promise to be the one-stop app to track all things health, activity, wellness, and memories — and connect them all together.

For now, you can head over to existence.io to view more of the pretty display, understand the Compass philosophy even more, and sign up to be an Alpha tester yourself!

“Your behavior is the new device.” — Chris Dancy (@servicesphere) at the QS15 Conference, San Francisco

****

Realizing 10K steps walking isn’t enough (for me)

Guys, I have to admit: this wasn’t a great week of exercise for me.

I was attached to my computer the first three days of this work week. I otherwise blamed a sore ankle and other family and friend commitments for not hitting the gym at night. It happens. But this week made me realize a change is in store.

I can’t be satisfied with walking 10K steps a day as a substitute for real cardio and think that I’ll maintain shape.

One metric that helps me conclude this: I gained 4 lbs in this week of general inactivity and none of my usual cardio. I thought I would be able to maintain, especially after a day where I literally went on a scavanger hunt through Chicago! There was a lot of walking amidst public transport, but I looked at the data afterwards and didn’t even arrive at 10K steps for the day.

10K steps walking isn't enough
84% of my total day’s steps were from a scavanger hunt through Chicago. (Data via Moves)

Do you ever feel that after a long 20/30 minute walk you got your workout for the day? That’s how I felt after my walk around Lincoln Park. Because I know the area so well, I can visualize the distance I covered and embellish it to be longer than it actually is. As you can see below, it’s only 1.4 miles.

10K steps walking isn't enough
My longest walk of the day — just 2K steps over 28 minutes.

Reflecting on this now, I remember feeling satisfied both during the above walk and after the scavanger hunt was done. My friend, and QS expert Mark Moschel, can attest: we went on the scavanger hunt together and I remember telling him “I feel kinda good, we got to walk around the city today.”

I was a little bit tired, but certainly would have had enough energy left for a workout after some rest. I didn’t push for it though because I thought for sure I walked over 10K steps already. As I’m finding out, I didn’t even reach that standard and even if I did, a few days a week of this amount of walking is not enough to substitute for little to no cardio.

Just today, in tracking my more typical work day, I arrived at the same conclusion. My longest walk so far has been 16 minutes, covering nearly a mile of downtown Chicago.

10K steps walking isn't enough
My longest walk so far today. Again, it looks longer and feels like more steps than it really is.

Since I’ve gotten settled back home after my trip this summer to San Francisco, I have arrived at the same takeaway I initially gathered out in the Bay. As I detailed here, I averaged about 7.5K steps a day for my trip, typically struggling to reach 10K with the mindset to walk more and explore the city. Likewise to this smaller sample size, I gained weight over 3 weeks given this activity combined with limited opportunities for cardio.

***

I hope by now you can take something out of my experience and apply it to yourself. But that’s the last point I want to make: for you.

I still have dreams of regaining my peak shape from my college years and still want to play basketball in competitive leagues for another few years going forward. For that type of athletic competition, I have to be in better shape, simple as that.

My conclusion is that 10K steps a day, though the standard healthy zone, isn’t enough. For instance though, 10K steps/day for my parents (in their 60s) is an amazing goal. That’s the beauty of what QuantXLaFont is setting out to achieve. Everyone is different and responds different to cardio, nutrition, sleep, you name it.

 

Up next: Give the DIY Tracker a free download and join me in tracking your own progress. For me, I intend on rating my physical activity and energy at the end of each day. I’m hoping the results will further drive home my conclusion and give me daily reminders that I’m still far away from my goal, whether walking or running. And with that… I’m going to hit the treadmill tonight!

10K steps walking isn't enough
Create your own QS tracker, which automatically records your resposnes in a Google spreadsheet, here.

BONUS: I also plan to use the data from my Chicago tourist scavanger hunt as part of a future follow-up with my past step count writeups: SF and at Lollapalooza. Stay tuned, looking forward to it!

Exploring caffeine 30 minutes before a workout

This is a guest post by Tim Hanrahan, Editor-In-Chief at Gowhere Hip Hop.

before a workout

 

 

Earlier this summer, I was put on to a pre-workout strategy that I have since adopted: drinking coffee 30 minutes before a workout.

A friend had suggested I try it, knowing that I love coffee and play basketball when I can. He provided this Men’s Fitness link to kickstart my own research, and even this month, I later found a recent, more scientific and detailed article on BodyBuilding.com.

Heading into the test, I made drinking a cup of coffee 30 minutes before a workout a daily habit (or a daily habit on days I workout). I didn’t have any data yet, but I felt internally that it was giving me an extra boost. These last 10 days were the first time I decided to track it.

 

Some background:

I’m an active exerciser and a daily coffee consumer already. I always have 1 cup of coffee with my breakfast or by lunch at the very latest. I usually have cup #2 between 3 and 4 in the afternoon and proceed to do a daily 20 minute stretching routine, followed by a 30 minute pilates routine at home (3-4 days/week). This was a great first week to track the caffeine’s effect because I was preparing for a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and played basketball 5 times in 7 days. In fact, the experiment began on Sunday, August 17th when I was inspired to go to the gym late that night and shoot around. I came straight from a movie and did not have a chance to drink coffee before going. Given the situation, and the general fact it was late at night, I felt extremely sluggish.

For the purposes of this test, I consumed the same two brands of coffee K-Cups (Starbucks Breakfast Blend & Dunkin Donuts Original Blend), each containing 150 mg of caffeine per cup.

 

The data:

I used both Apple Health & QuantXLaFont’s free DIY Tracker to record my caffeine intake and my observations of its effect. Both were conveniently on my smartphone and the DIY Tracker allowed me to customize my observations and essentially create my own rating system.

before a workout
A graph of my caffeine intake for the last 7 days of my test, using Apple Health.
before a workout
I manually inputed the data on Apple Health while I waited for each cup of coffee to brew.

The graph and data already illustrate a few takeaways. One of the more general ones was that these were the first couple of weeks I upped my coffee intake to 3 cups/day. I have been steady at 2 cups/day for the past year-plus. I started to feel I needed a morning/afternoon/evening routine on days I played basketball at night.

That made it easy to visualize when I played basketball. I usually had that 3rd cup before playing just after 8pm at night. Over the weekend, I only had 1 cup of coffee each day. But one of those days was our 3-on-3 tournament that started at 10:30 in the morning.

before a workout
My custom survey to rate how big a boost the caffeine had on my workout, using the QXL DIY Tracker.

I made sure to be diligent and record my observation after I finished my workout using the DIY Tracker. It was easy to tell if I still felt sluggish, had just enough boost to maintain a sufficient energy level, or best case scenario: a very high boost where I had an extra hop in my step and an extra level of mental awareness on the court.

I knew going into it that the sluggish workouts would be few and far between. The coffee at least gave me enough of a boost to start drinking it consistently heading into the test. After my first “Very High Boost” day, I was really curious how often coffee would give me this best case scenario.

Here are the results, recorded into a Google Spreadsheet in real-time via the DIY Tracker.

before a workout
The automatic Google Spreadsheet of response results from the DIY Tracker.

 

The Takeaways:

The results proved encouraging! 3 of the 4 times I drank coffee before playing basketball I experienced a very high boost. I noticed I had an extra spring in my step and was able to see the floor and make quicker decisions comapred to the 1 off-day I didn’t have a very high boost during this period.

(Beginner’s Tip: If you try this yourself before basketball, make sure to hydrate yourself even more than usual in between games. Your body needs to adjust to the caffeine, which naturally makes you more dehydrated. After a few days of this, you shouldn’t feel extra dehydrated but take it from me, I learned the hard way!)

Additionally, I did pilates after my mid-afternoon cup of coffee 5 times in these 10 days and experienced only 1 day where I still felt sluggish. This one off day helped me realize that coffee isn’t the end all, be all solution to having a quality workout. In other words, it was a pleasant reminder that you still have to get reasonable sleep and eat well to have a quality workout no matter what. I remember vividly not having those basic factors fulfilled on this particular day.

However, the results also gave me a number, albeit in a small sample size. 80% of the time I’ll feel a noticable boost in my workout (basketball, pilates, stretching) thanks to consuming a cup of coffee 30 minutes before. Again, I felt it was helping me internally all summer, but now I had a high success rate to keep me even more disciplined to have that pre-workout coffee.

 

Looking ahead:

From here, I intend to continue to gather data, track how much caffeine I consume each day, and add variables to arrive at even more concrete conclusions. For instance: how does the amount of caffeine in the pre-workout cup of coffee effect my workout. The one day I consumed 180 mg of caffeine was due to a large Dunkin Donuts coffee I bought on the run. I noticed a very high boost in playing basketball 30 minutes later.

What do you guys think? Is there anything more you would like to see added to my test? I personally believe in the science behind it (if you missed the links in the intro, I suggest you give those a read) but perhaps there’s an ingredient here that it’s all mental. You know, like when the TuneSquad drank “MJ’s Secret Stuff” at halftime. 🙂

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions on Twitter @QuantSelfLaFont or @TimHanrahan10 and perform your own experiment like this by simply using Apple Health (already installed on your iPhone) and your own custom response survey via the QuantXLaFont DIY Tracker.

***

3 weeks of step count data — what did it tell me?

This is a guest post by Tim Hanrahan, Editor-In-Chief at Gowhere Hip Hop.

step count data
The view from one of my hikes in the Bay Area.

Last week, I took a look at my step count data attending the Lollapalooza music festival earlier this month. This inspired me to go back even further in my data to my 3-week nomadic trip to San Francisco this June/July.

I set out to the Bay to attend the annual Quantifed Self Conference and had the intention to stay out there and work remotely for as long as I could be away from home. I also set a daily intention to explore new neighborhoods, tourist attractions, and the many outdoor activities the Bay has to offer, especially being it was my first visit to the area.

Naturally, I knew I would be much more active walking around San Francisco than I am currently — commuting by car or simply not leaving home to work. I wanted to see how much more active I would be in a new environment and establish a new daily routine going forward.

I was also hoping that as a result from this trip, I would be able to test an upper limit of what I can physically endure in a day. To set my ceiling, I went on two hikes and compared the data below between those days and my “normal”, primarily pedestrian work day. I’ll explain more as we go…

 

The Hikes

First, here is a line graph that charts my total amount of steps across the 3 weeks, using the Moves app. As one might assume, my 2 highest step counts were the 2 days I went on hikes.

step count data

The 2 hikes I went on were very different, yet equally exhausting. The first was through Muir Woods, up, then back down a mountain that lasted for over 4 hours and accumulated 9.5 miles.

step count data
My first hike (and all-time record of steps!) up the mountain trails at Muir Woods.

The next weekend, I walked an even 9 miles mainly exploring the Marin Headlands and walking from there to the Bonita Point Lighthouse. This was not nearly as steep compared to the more traditional hike I had 6 days before, but my friends and I were able to explore more land this time during a relatively equal 4+ hour period.

step count data
My second hike: covering the cliffs, viewpoints, and beaches at Marin.

For me, these hikes, and this trip in general, were my first experience at really tracking and analyzing my physical activity. I knew that to improve my daily goals I had to test my limits. In the couple of months since, the record of June 21st still stands as my ceiling. I know I can pass it one day, but this number still acts as an inspiration that I can handle and reach that Fitbit magic number of 10,000 steps a day during a normal work week.

 

The Non-Hike Days

Using my data above, I calculated the average amount of steps I took per day, excluding the two days I went on hikes.

Over 18 non-hike days, I averaged 7,625 steps/day.

It fell short of my 10K/day goal, but I still have my head held high.

One of the biggest factors that skewed my average down was a 4-day extended recovery from not just the hike, but the start of my trip June 17-20 that included active days at the QS conference. I stayed dormant, worked from my friend’s place, and relied on BART or my buddy’s car to get around the city when otherwise during the trip I would walk. I enjoyed unwinding, but just fell comfortable into it for 2 days too long.

Furthermore, when I’m home, I’m more able to properly excercise. As you all know when you travel, one of the hurdles sometimes is finding a gym, treadmill, or even simply the time to go out for a run, bike ride, what have you. My main form of cardio is even harder to accomplish on the road: playing basketball.

Throughout the 3 weeks, I only found one day to play basketball: July 4th, pictured below, and that was not the full court pickup games I usually play in 2-3 times a week. My friend and I just shot around in the 80 degree heat for about an hour. I immediately noticed I didn’t have the same wind or leg strength after 2 weeks of not touching a basketball.

step count data
The one day I played basketball on my trip. I was able to separately analyze the steps taken while playing basketball in the right column.

 

Takeaways

Once I got settled in San Francisco, I figured a couple of things would happen for the last couple weeks of my trip that ultimately did not:

1. I would find more time to play basketball and not drop off my cardio too much.

2. The amount of walking would compensate for my normal cardio.

I dissected the latter takeaway and concluded that overall, I wasn’t as active as I thought I was. My active days inflated my perception, but I was brought back down to earth when I felt so out of shape after just 2 weeks of not playing basketball.

In fact, one other quantified result from the trip that proved this was a 5 pound weight gain. I felt I had been more active in San Francisco, and looking at the high step counts on my most active days contributed to that sense of security. But I didn’t realize it until it was too late: I just didn’t make enough time for cardio. I figured that with all the walking I did, plus Pilates 2-3 days a week from home, it would be enough to maintain. It wasn’t, but I didn’t feel I dug myself into an insurmountable hole either.

Looking at it positively though, I found I really enjoyed hiking and just walking more in general throughout the work week. I would take breaks and seek out a new destination for work, meetings, a tourist spot, food, etc. throughout San Francisco. Those days in the city were ones that increased the 7.5K average.

Overall, my trip helped me determine that this is the routine I would like to establish, given my current, remote work situation. The goals are now to hit my 7.5K average from just walking during the work hours, and then reach 10K through nighttime exercise. On the few nights a week I play basketball, 12.5K steps total is a more challenging goal. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to really hike around flatland Chicago (my current home) but that’s where the basketball steps in.

Up next: Streamlining my data tracking and creating even better graphs to visualize my activity. I had to manually input data and create the graph above, when I could have been doing this automatically with this all-new DIY Tracker on QuantXLaFont.com. It’s a free download, with optional personalized coaching, to start to track your own version of either my experiment above or something like weight tracking or measuring your blood glucose levels.

If you enjoyed my story here, you can use this tool and start your own story too. Check it out and let us know what you think: @QuantSelfLafont.

***

10,000 Steps at a Music Festival

This is a guest post by Tim Hanrahan, Editor-In-Chief at Gowhere Hip Hop.

Steps at a Music Festival
Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Chicago.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended one of the biggest summer music festivals in the country: Lollapalooza. Everyone from Paul McCartney to The Weeknd and Sam Smith to even Metallica were performing across the 3-day festival at Grant Park in Chicago.

I turned the festival experience into a fun Quantified Self experiment for the weekend and all I needed was the Moves app. The results provide a peek into the amount of exercise you actually get at a music festival, which you can compare to your most strenuous or inactive days. Plus, there’s always the added inspiration to run more QS experiments like this in your daily life going forward.

So without further ado…

The Data

To first give you some background, the festival is laid out across the entirety of Grant Park, with the two main stages being on opposite sides of the 3.4 square mile area.

Here’s the visual, which shows my 24 minute walk from main stage to main stage amidst heavy foot traffic from the 100,000+ festival goers per day.

Steps at a Music Festival
An end-to-end journey in Lollapalooza from Saturday, Day 2. Illustrated via the Moves app.

Day 1 — Friday

Lollapalooza is also known for being an all-day event that starts at 11am and goes until 10pm. This isn’t my first go around at Lolla so I arrived around 7pm. On this night, I only wanted to catch the headlining acts, with an after-party to attend later and 2 more days at the fest to come.

Ultimately, the 3 hours I spent at the festival and the 1.5 mile walk to the after-party concert afterwards was the least amount of distance I traveled for the 3 days.

Steps at a Music Festival

I, somewhat surprisingly, hit the standard FitBit goal of 10,000 steps. I wasn’t bouncing around to too many stages on Friday night and acknowledged when I went to sleep that I had another level of energy still in reserve. I also immediately realized I would need that for the increased ground I knew I was going to cover in the next 2 days.

Day 2 — Saturday

Saturday proved to be my most active day before and after the festival.

I started by walking to brunch near my place. Later in the afternoon, I stopped by a lounge party across the street from the festival’s main entrance. And after the festival, my friends and I hopped from one hotel bar to another, taking in the many brand sponsored parties that come to town for the festivities.

All of these spots were walking distance from one another but we were going back and forth across the Chicago River in an inefficient manner, only adding to my steps. My night ended at 3am, and afterwards, my body was aching everywhere.

Steps at a Music Festival

The first variable that skewed the data can be seen above. “Moves off 2:03 h” is the Moves app’s way of saying my phone died.

Pro Tip: If you go to a festival, your phone will be searching for a signal the entire time and your battery will drain faster than normal. Bring one of those small battery pack chargers so you can be plugged in amidst the crowd.

However, I can accurately estimate how many total steps I ended up with on Saturday. The biggest factor: I made the same 35 minute walk on Friday, to the same hotel Saturday night. This walk amounted to 2,369 steps.

I would then add another 0.7 miles of walking from hotel to hotel while my phone was off. That is about half of the distance of the 1.3 mile, 35 minute walk the night before.

The resulting, approximated total for Saturday: 16,800 steps. This is the highest amount of steps for my 3 days.

Day 3 — Sunday

The last day of the festival turned out to be my most active day actually within the festival. I was there for 6 hours and was stage-hopping most of the time too.

Steps at a Music Festival

My data highlights a few interesting observations. The hidden one is that my night ended much earlier than the previous two: roughly at 10:35pm.

The more obvious one: I set my month record of 13,640 steps (though I just calculated above my Saturday was a few thousand more steps) AND I ran… for 932 steps, a.k.a. 0.6 miles.

Steps at a Music Festival

I was humorously running toward Union Station to catch the last train after the festival had ended. The train was set to take off at 10:35 and as you’ll note above the map, my running ended at 10:34. I just made it!

That experience was made more memorable by the fact that I had to carry around a 40lb. backpack with my laptop, media equipment, and change of clothes that entire time. All the while, I was weaving past attendees who were walking with no knowledge of the train schedule. Unfortunately, Moves can’t quantify the added weight to my exercise but I’m comfortable knowing it was a great, and unexpected cardio workout. (I was sitting on the train in a full sweat and catching my breath for 15 minutes.)

The Takeaways

Festivals are tiring.

OK obviously. But more useful to you, I found out that festivals are actually an unexpected, suitable workout substitute, especially if you’re worried you’ll fall behind your regular workout schedule.

Heading into the weekend, I was worried about just that. I had turned the corner in recent months recovering from an injury and following a strict routine that mixes full-court basketball, treadmill sprint workouts, pilates, and weight lifting.

On that train ride home Sunday night, and the couple of days after, I felt more sore than after any of those other workouts. The festival, for 3 straight days, flat out takes a heavy toll on your body.

Here’s how the weekend’s steps compared to my more inactive days:

Steps at a Music Festival
I attended Lollapalooza during the 3 highest days. (Illustrated via Apple Health)

A quick glance at my monthly data shows pretty clearly when I attended Lollapalooza. Relative to my work days, the weekend contains a lot more steps. (The variables to note here: I work from home and I don’t have a FitBit or wearable to track when I play basketball or run on the treadmill, etc.)

The latter point is actually another one of my takeaways from this experience. I really want to see how attending a festival compares to my normal day playing pickup basketball and the days I’m actually active.

I did track my all-time ceiling: in June, I made a 4 mile hike up a mountain in California that amounted to 30,000+ steps. Now I know that a busy day at a festival is about half of that for me. So where do my other activities lie on this spectrum?

Hopefully this experience is as inspiring to you as it was for me to track more of your everyday movements. If so, let us know @quantselflafont!

Steps at a Music Festival
An overhead panoramic view of the size of Lollapalooza at Grant Park, Chicago. If you want to read more about my actual music experience at Lollapalooza, click here.