The essential guide to Polar Flow

June 14, 2017

What is Polar Flow?

In many ways that’s like asking “what is the internet” or “what is Facebook“. Sure, you can come up with a description like “Polar Flow is the online window into your training, daily activity and sleep” or “Internet is the place where you go to see funny videos about cats” but that’s missing the point. It’s not really about what all these services are but what you can do with them.

So, what can you do with Polar Flow?

As it turns out: a lot.

But to get you started here are 8 ways you can use Polar Flow. If you want to jump right in and make yourself an account, you can do that here. (It’s free!)

A short introduction to Polar Flow

Polar Flow is your online window into your training, daily activity and sleep. (There’s that definition again!) It’s the place where you can see, analyze and understand the data that you’re tracking with your Polar product. Polar Flow is a powerful tool that you can use in a variety of ways depending on what you want to do. Here are some things you can do with Polar Flow:

  • Gauge your current fitness level
  • Find the right balance between activity and rest
  • Plan your training
  • See how you progress
  • Track your sleep
  • Manage your weight
  • Relive your best moments
  • Socialize with likeminded people

Polar Flow is available as a web service and as a mobile app for Android and iOS. When we talk about the ‘Polar Flow web service’ we mean the Polar Flow you can access at flow.polar.com. When we talk about the ‘Polar Flow app’, we mean the app you can download for Android and iPhone.

This is how the app and the web service are different from each other:

  • Use the Polar Flow web service to dig deep into your data
  • Use the Polar Flow app to get a quick view of your stats

Some features and views require you to use the Polar Flow web service. So, if you don’t see something in the app, have a look at the web service.

Also, to track your stats and get insights into them with Polar Flow, you need something to track your activity and training with – something on your wrist or on your bike. Have a look at our products that work with Polar Flow, if you don’t have one already.

Tip #1. Polar Flow for upping your running game

Running is one of the world’s most popular sports. It’s easy to start, you don’t need much of an investment upfront and you can do it basically anywhere. For tracking your runs with Polar, you’ll need a Polar product (Polar M430, for example) that preferably has GPS. Once you have that, tighten the wristband, put on your favorite running playlist and hit the road.

One of the most powerful features Polar Flow has to offer to runners is the Polar Running Program. While running is easy to start, it’s also very easy to quit. Some might even say running sucks (but only if you’re doing it wrong).

Enter Polar Running Program. With it, you can set up a distance and a date (5K, 10K, half-marathon or a full marathon) and the program makes you a personalized running plan. You can sync the training sessions to your Polar product, and follow the guided runs.

It’s like a virtual running coach. Read more about our adaptive and personalized running plan.

Furthermore, Polar Flow is designed to answer the questions that runners may have. Below is a table of some of what Polar Flow has to offer.

One thing to keep in mind is that what you see in Polar Flow depends on what Polar product you have. For example, the new Polar Sleep Plus™ is available on the new Polar M430 and Polar A370.

ProblemHow Polar Flow helps you
I don’t know how much or how often I should runSet up the Polar Running Program
I don’t know if I’m improvingKeep an eye on your Running Index report
Should I rest more?Have a look at your Recovery Status under Diary
I need motivationJoin a Polar Flow group and get support from your new friends
I’m going on vacation and I want to do some running but I don’t know any good routes.Explore your destination with Polar Flow Explore.

Tip #2. Polar Flow for exploring the world

Polar Flow is an adventure map. In the Explore tab you can see all the public training sessions people have logged into Polar Flow. You can filter for sport, time, distance and location, among others.

Read this article about exploring the world with Polar Flow to learn more.

Tip #3. Activity tracking with Polar Flow

Activity tracking is one of those powerful features of Polar Flow whose scope you don’t necessarily comprehend the first time you see it. It’s almost like an iceberg. At the top of that iceberg we have the daily activity goal (the bar on your watch) that is very easy to grasp: getting to 100% is good and you can and you should fill up your activity bar by being active throughout the day.

Easy.

But if you want to go delve deeper into your activity stats, you can log in to Polar Flow and analyze your daily, weekly and monthly activity and see the health benefits of that activity.

Daily activity

This is the view into your daily activity, the basic unit of activity analysis. However, don’t be afraid of the word analysis, this view will give you a very easy-to-understand view and spell out the health benefits too. Among other things, you can see your

  • Daily activity goal and how well you’ve reached it
  • Total calories burned (including basal metabolic rate, activity and training sessions)
  • Active time (time spent being active enough to improve your fitness)
  • Daily steps
  • Inactivity stamps (if you sit for too long, you’ll get an inactivity stamp)
  • Sleep time

Your daily activity graph takes up most of the screen estate here. It’s a handy tool to gauge how active you’ve been during the day and if there’s something you could improve. The darker the color, the more active you have been. The higher the curve, the more active you have been.

If you’re an office worker and you mostly sit at work, it’s a good idea to stand up from your desk, take short strolls and work standing up every once in a while. By looking at your daily activity graph you can see that ‘oh yes I guess I am sitting too much’ and make changes accordingly.

Tip #4. Tracking sleep and Polar Flow

With the introduction of Polar Sleep Plus™ (available for Polar A370 and Polar M430), Polar Flow becomes an even more comprehensive tool for tracking the duration, quality and timing of your sleep. See last night’s sleep stats or have a look at whole weeks to spot trends in your sleep schedule. If you want to know more about Polar Sleep Plus, we’ve got you covered with this introduction to tracking your Zzz’s.

Tip #5. Polar Flow as the ultimate training log

What did you do on June 28, 2015?

Well, officer, I went for a run. 6.3 miles, average heart rate 143, 710 calories burned. Here’s my route and as you can see it didn’t go anywhere near those gingerbread protein pancakes that were reported missing.

Polar Flow is the ultimate training log. If you track your training session, you can find it in Polar Flow whether it’s the following day or two years from today. Our memory is notoriously fallible but your training stats don’t lie.

One year of training sessions

Here are some ways you could use Polar Flow as a training log:

  • See how much training you did the whole year
  • See what sports you did
  • Count how many calories you burned
  • See what heart rate zones you trained in

Tip #6. Understanding a single training session

One single session can reveal a lot about your fitness level. Especially professional athletes or coaches can go deep into a training session to analyze heart rate stats, distances and power levels, for example, in order to reach peak performance.

The newly updated training view shows the different graphs (such as heart rate, power levels, elevation) on separate rows. You can zoom in closer to a section or a lap to get a better look. See the video to learn more about analyzing a single training session:

Tip #7. Managing your weight with Polar Flow and Polar Balance

Do you want to manage your weight? Lose a few pounds or just keep an eye out on your weight? Here’s our combo for that:

Here’s how you could use the Polar Balance weight management system. First you need to have two goals: how much weight you want to lose and how quickly. You put this data into the Polar Balance service in Polar Flow and it gives you guidance on how to reach that goal.

Polar Balance for weight loss

The system is based on the idea that you have to burn more calories than you intake to lose weight: calories in vs calories out. In theory, there are two ways to arrive at a calorie deficit: eat less and burn more. The Polar Balance service gives you a 60/40 split. So, 60% of the total daily calorie deficit (450 kcals in our example) comes from consuming less and 40% from activity or training.

How to use Polar Balance

  1. Weigh yourself and update your weight to your Polar wrist unit
  2. Sync your weight and activity from your wrist unit to the Polar Balance service via Polar Flow
  3. You’ll get personalized guidance from the web service or from the mobile app for how much you should eat and how active you should be to reach your goal
  4. See your adaptive, automatically updated daily activity goal on your wrist unit. Fulfill it every day until you have reached your weight loss target

The activity bar on your fitness tracker reflects the amount of activity you need achieve to reach the “be more active” half of the equation.When you fill up that bar, you know you’ve achieved your activity goal for the day. Polar Balance gives you suggestions as to what you could do to fill up that bar, like going for a jog for 23 minutes. When you weigh yourself regularly, Polar Balance will take your weight trend into account and modify your daily activity goal accordingly.

For the “eat less” part of the equation, Polar Balance will suggests food items you should skip.

Weight-loss is never simple but with something like Polar Balance it can be simpler, which can make a world of difference.

Tip #8. Polar Flow for community and togetherness

Best things in life are made better by sharing them with someone. Even gingerbread protein pancakes.

Polar Flow is many things, it’s a training log, an adventure map, a weight-loss companion… But it’s also a community. Among other things, you can follow your friends, comment and like their activities and see their training sessions on the Map in Polar Flow Explore.

In the Community tab in the Polar Flow web service you’ll find Flow groups, Flow clubs and Flow events.

Flow Groups

Anyone can start a group in Polar Flow. There are groups for running for weight-loss, for different countries and different sports and much more. And if you don’t find a group you want, you can create it. Within the group you can see what others have been up to, get and give support and work together towards a common goal.

Flow Clubs

Find your fitness club, see classes and schedules and share your sweaty successes.

Flow Events

Now we’re talking. There are a bunch of events in Polar Flow already. For example, there’s one for the NYC 2017 marathon. So if you’re planning to go, you can join the event, see how others are training, get tips, make some friends and arrange a meet-up once you get there… And after the event, you can see the results from everybody for a little friendly competition.

Sharing our collective wisdom

We have only scratched the surface here. Polar Flow is a very powerful tool and how you use it really depends on what you want to achieve. That’s why we’d like to hear what Polar Flow means to you and how you use it. So when you share this article, add your insights and let’s start spreading that collective wisdom.