124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Measuring movement one step (or swing) at a time

January 20, 2012

The Humana Challenge is a golf tournament, of course, the old Bob Hope Classic re-invented and re-invigorated. But it is more than that, as the festivities in La Quinta, Calif., have demonstrated this week.

Former president Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation have partnered with the Humana Challenge to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Among the activities were a Wellness Walk, a Healthy Fun Fair and the Clinton Foundation Conference, "Health Matters: Activating Wellness in Every Generation."


We bring this up because Nike has just introduced the Nike+ FuelBand, "designed for anyone who wants to be more active," the company says. The Clinton Foundation and Humana Challenge would like that to be everyone.

The FuelBand is worn around the wrist and tracks your everyday activity, including steps (or swings) taken on a golf course or otherwise and calories burned, and translates it into what it calls NikeFuel. The band contains colored LEDs that indicate the NikeFuel earned. It is red to start the day, but hopefully not red ending the day, red having been defined as sedentary. The object is set a NikeFuel goal for the day that has been achieved when the band LED goes to green.

"Before, there was no simple metric that worked across different activities," Stefan Olander, vice president of digital sports for Nike, said Thursday at a news conference to introduce the device. However you are moving, the Nike+ FuelBand is recording it.

What is NikeFuel? It's "a newly created fitness metric...which is based off the rate of oxygen consumption and motion," Roger Cheng wrote at CNET.

"Glenn Gaesser, a professor at Arizona State University's school of nutrition and health promotion, said the device could be useful in promoting activity, and more importantly, discouraging inactivity, which has led to a number of health problems. The FuelBand's motivational techniques are in line with what the government and health organizations have been pushing in terms of increased daily activity."

The Nike+ FuelBand connects to a computer via USB cable or to a smart phone via an app and bluetooth to help track your progress. It will go on sale on Feb. 22 and will cost $150.

-- John Strege