Sunday, September 10, 2017

Fitness trackers: Friend or foe?

Using the Fitbit app of my phone I can view steps
walked, exercise minutes, time slept and more. 

When I first heard about fitness trackers I thought, there's another gadget I'll never need. But now that I've had one for nine months, I find it really helps to get me moving.

I read a post several weeks ago about fitness trackers being unnecessary when there are cheaper options available, like using a cell phone app or a pedometer. Unfortunately, these alternatives didn't work for me. First the cell phone tracker apps are notorious battery-drainers. I used one to track my steps for several weeks during a health challenge at work and as a result went from charging my phone once per day at most to several times. Plus, there are lots of times when what I was wearing didn't have pockets and carrying my phone wasn't convenient (i.e. during yoga pants casual time at home or whe,n say, you're using a public restroom). As a result, I missed a lot of steps.

Pedometers had issues as well, from missing or inaccurately counting steps to being far too easy to accidentally reset when I leaned up against something or hit it with my arm.

Luckily last November my deal-hunting-guru boyfriend found a Fitbit Flex on sale for just $40. At that price, I decided to give it a go. The result? Not only is it less obtrusive than either option discussed above, I find it really motivates me to more more.

Now the Fitbit Flex is almost as basic as fitness trackers get. It doesn't monitor heart rate or stairs climbed, isn't I have to check my phone to see my step totals. But it's one of the smaller trackers available, which is important to me, and the accessories are just as cheap as it is.

While the Flex isn't the most stylish thing to wear,
you can find wristbands in almost every color.

But does it actually make me move more? Definitely!

Had you asked me how many steps I walked before I started tacking, I'm sure I would have vastly overestimated my actual count. I also (incorrectly) thought I racked up steps at home than at work (where I have to park and walk a few blocks to my building, not to mention walking to other buildings for meetings, if I decide to eat out, etc.). My job tends to be sedentary most of the time, as are many of my hobbies (I'm looking at you blogging and reading!) so unless I consciously go for a walk, I can have just 3,000-5,000 steps in a day.

Since I've gotten the Fitbit, combined with the prevalence of health challenges a work, I usually walk 40,000-50,000 steps per week, versus staying in the 30,000 range. It also tracks active minutes (at least 10 minutes of continuous activity) and exercise minutes. Since I need all the motivation to move more that I can get, I find it more than worth it.

Is it perfect? No. For such a tiny thing I wish the battery lasted longer. I currently have to charge it two or three times per week. And unfortunately it can't track miles biked or stairs climbed. But for my needs and budget, I'm happy with it.

What about you? Are you a fitness tracker fan?


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