The ActiveLink activity monitor works with the Weight Watchers diet program to convert your physical activity into PointsPlus values. It tracks your full day of activity before adding PointsPlus for exercise beyond your baseline. It tells you your total time spent in moderate intensity and vigorous intensity activity each day, but it doesn't give you a step count or an explicit calorie count.
It has a simple display of light bars to show you how you are progressing throughout the day, but it must be plugged into a computer USB port to upload its data. While it works with either Mac or PC, you are out of luck if you only have an iOS device such as the iPad, as it needs Flash to work. The ActiveLink requires an ongoing extra subscription to use ($5 per month), in addition to a Weight Watchers Online subscription.
Wearing the ActiveLink
The ActiveLink is a three-axis accelerometer that accurately picks up motion and speed in three dimensions to determine exercise intensity. It is small and very lightweight, about 2 inches long and one inch wide. It comes with a carrying clip and can be worn on your waistband, clipped to your bra or neckband, on a necklace, or carried in a pocket. The belt clip is not completely secure, I lost one Activelink during a walk, so it is best to add a pedometer safety leash to keep it secure.
The ActiveLink is waterproof and you can wear it swimming. It doesn't track sleep, so you don't need to wear it to bed.
The ActiveLink has six light bars. You can see your progress towards your daily activity goal by laying it horizontally on a surface. One corner light bar blinks and then it lights up bars for having achieved 25%, 50%, 75%, 100% or more of your goal. If you are more than halfway to the next milestone lightbar, that bar blinks. You can only see your data after uploading it on a computer with a USB port and viewing your data on the ActiveLink web site.
Activelink also communicates your Weight Watchers PointsPlus earned through activity after the end of each day. If you achieved more than baseline physical activity, those PointsPlus values are added to your Weight Watchers totals the next day.
The ActiveLink charges when plugged into a USB port and a full charge should last up to three weeks. It stores up to three weeks of activity data.
12 Week Challenge
The first week that you wear the ActiveLink it assesses your baseline activity and produces an activity challenge. It assessed me as an Occasional Athlete who enjoys enough workouts but is often inactive throughout the rest of the day. In my assessment week, I was earning an average of 5 PointsPlus values per day and my challenge would be to gradually increase that to an average of 7 PointsPlus values per day. Each week my daily goal would be increased, so the flashing bars on the Activelink needed more activity each week to light up.
You also have a My Coach tab with a personal coach. I asked mine questions about what to do when I lost my ActiveLink. She got back to me in a few hours.
You receive a weekly email listing your total Activity PointsPlus and how you performed towards your goal.
Viewing Your Activity
You can upload your data by plugging the ActiveLink into a USB port on a computer that has the ActiveLink communication software installed. You will see your activity each hour and can drill down to see activity per minute. You also can see your total minutes of moderate-intensity activity, with a goal of at least 30 minutes per day, and of vigorous-intensity activity, with a goal of at least 20 minutes per day.
I found that my brisk walking workouts were tracked as vigorous intensity activity, while easier strolls were counted as moderate intensity activity.
Naming: You can label activity periods by the activity you engaged in. This will adjust the PointsPlus that might be earned for activities that are under-counted with the Activelink. The activities that you should name when doing are cycling, elliptical, rowing, skating, skiing and swimming. You can name other activities just to note them for your own motivation and tracking, but it doesn't adjust the PointsPlus for those activities.
You can also schedule recurring activities, such as my Wednesday Zumba! class.
Editing Lost Days: When I lost my ActiveLink, I wanted to continue to log my activities until the replacement arrived. You can only edit days after you have a full day with no activity, at which point a link to manually edit activities will appear. However, you can also use the Naming function to fill in any activities where you should have earned credit but you didn't wear your ActiveLink. This is a little less obvious than I would like it be.
Working with the Weight Watchers Program
Your data syncs to your Weight Watchers Online Plan Manager. You have to have a subscription to both the ActiveLink site and Weight Watchers Online.
Each day, your activity PointsPlus earned are added to your total.
My typical workouts are brisk walking and Zumba dancing, which I felt were accurately tracked with the ActiveLink. For example, the day I walked a half marathon at brisk pace gave me 40 PointsPlus and 216 minutes of vigorous activity and 297 minutes of moderate activity. But for my mostly inactive days at the office with just a couple of bouts of brisk walking, I may earn just 1 PointsPlus or even zero.
Reading reviews other users, many were dissatisfied with the number of PointsPlus they earned with the ActiveLink compared to what they got if they entered their activity into the usual Weight Watchers calculator. Proper use of the Naming function can adjust for activity that is under-counted. I think it is very easy to overestimate your activity and intensity, and the ActiveLink should be a more accurate measurement of activity and the calories you burn.
Bottom Line on the ActiveLink
The ActiveLink is a good tool for measuring activity energy expended for tracking with the Weight Watchers program. It can only be used as a part of that program.
ActiveLink has no mobile upload, you need to have access to a computer with the communications software installed in order to upload your data. This makes it difficult to use if you often travel without a laptop computer. I could track my food with the Weight Watchers mobile app, but would have to use the web site and Naming in order to get PointsPlus for activity if I couldn't upload from the ActiveLink. Because I travel only with an iPad and iPhone, I am out of luck.
I generally don't like devices that lack a numerical readout on the device itself, but the lightbar indicators on the ActiveLink were a satisfying check on how much activity I was achieving throughout the day. It's definitely not satisfying when you far exceed your daily goal (as I did on half marathon day) but have to wait for a few days to get home and upload your data.
I would like to get a step count and calorie count in addition to the activity minutes and PointsPlus. If you have been tracking that sort of data for a long time, you also may miss it if you start using the Activelink while not also using a pedometer.
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.