Believe it or not, I have been wearing a few different models, but of one certain brand of pedometer, pretty much EVERY day for over two years now. It’s not just one of those lame, belt buckle-sized ones that have the cheap, LED display and is so heavy that it drops your workout shorts to your knees when you clip it on. No… I’m talking about my trusty old electronic Fitbit [www.fitbit.com/].
Before I get into some of the great features, I’ll answer a question… What is the main reason I love my Fitbit so much? Answer: Because it is small, easy and it is always there counting for me (and I am counting on IT for accuracy!).
Let’s be honest. Walking is probably the easiest exercise one can do. It’s almost not even exercise sometimes. Heck, if you can walk, you’re already doing it! [Duh, Mike!]
So, then the next step is to know how much of it you are doing. The generally “recommended” amount of walking per day is 10,000 steps. That equals about 5 miles. And if you primarily work on a computer at a desk, like I do, it is NOT as easy as it sounds to hit that number.
Sure, you can drink more water (like you should be doing anyway!), which will make you have to go to the bathroom more, which will give you more steps in the day, going to the bathroom so much. Sure, you can take that flight of stairs to the second or third floor, instead of the elevator (like you should be doing anyway!). That all helps, but you still will need to get a nice walk or two in on top of that.
I’m going to write the rest of this post as a set of questions you may be asking.
Why do I personally like the Fitbit better than any of the other step-trackers out there? Well, the higher-end Fitbits have an accelerometer and altimeter that count measurable metrics like steps, floors climbed, distance and calories burned.
Why is it important to have measurable metrics? Well, we know that what you can measure – you can change – in a positive way. Studies show that one of the most effective ways to help a person lose weight, is to keep a food log, as well as an exercise log.
What? The Fitbit site has a HUGE database of every kind of food one eats, where you have a personal dashboard that can keep track of everything you eat – right down to how much water you drink daily?! Wow! That alone is pretty impressive, even if you take the Fitbit itself out of the equation.
Once you get a Fitbit, go to the site and sign up for a free account. There is a dashboard there that will keep track of many things. Try tracking your food for a week – it will become addictive.
Are you feeling like you are having trouble sleeping? Shoot – this little baby tracks your sleep patterns and restlessness over night when you wear it! It also tracks sleep in your Fitbit dashboard.
In the morning, do you get startled with your cell phone jarring you awake with it’s alarm? [I do! Not sure why I have my alarm sound being a barking dog, but it scares the &#!# out of me!] Well, the Fitbit has a silent alarm function, that you can set to have it vibrate and wake you up a little more naturally (than rabid dog noises). I personally don’t use this function, because I NEED to be startled in order to get up – but I like the idea of the silent alarm for those of you “morning people” [I so dislike you!… Kidding!].
Is that all the Fitbit does?
What?! No! As if all of the above wasn’t enough for you to run out and get a Fitbit today, there is yet another benefit – fun! Fitbit uses gamification to become part of social media and even gives you badges for accomplishments. Many other websites and apps can tie into your Fitbit, allowing you to easily connect with others. I even tied it into Walgreens for awhile and received extra Walgreens points for hitting certain step counts.
I have a few friends, Karen, Jim and Toni, who also have Fitbits and we regularly “compete” weekly for top scores! [Darn you Jim, Toni and Karen for walking/running so much and beating me most weeks!!!] See an image here of the weekly email Fitbit sends me (which taunts my very soul!). You can also set it to automatically post to Facebook or Google+ with certain info.
You can simply add people you know, who also have Fitbits, using the Fitbit website. You are able to taunt, cheer and send messages to each other through the website OR the app.
Yeeeeeeeessssss… of course there’s also an app for your Fitbit! [It would be Snooze-City without an app for something, right?!]
So, now I’m going to kind of come full-circle and tell you how I even know about Fitbit – it was two (or is it three?!) years ago, when about 15 people in my department at work, decided to sign up and train for the Chicago Marathon. Woo-hoo!!! [Insert bells and whistles here!!!!]. Well, we also began an in-depth healthy-living goal plan system, which I helped propose along with my workmates, Kevin and Jen, (and, incidentally, also originally created this very blog for), [Insert bells and whistles here again!!!!].
Well, 102 posts, 18,202 views, 261 subscribed (not counting unsubscribed) followers later and I am still posting!
As always, I digress… but getting back to the post… at that time, our aim was not to just support the 15 Marathoners-in-training, but to also provide some way to get 100% of our department into a more healthily-balanced lifestyle.
I can’t even stress how great of a person and supporter of the healthy-balanced lifestyle the VP of my department is and always has been. Diana graciously allowed – and challenged – us to try something no other department had ever done before. She supported our ideas and set us up for success with many things… and a Fitbit to every member of the department was one of those things. [Seriously… where besides McDonald’s, would people’s health be so cared after, that they are able to literally create a healthier lifestyle?!]
“Yeah, Mike, but I’m sick of having to charge my phone, computer and everything else EVERY DAY! How often do I have to charge the Fitbit?”
This is one of the best things… you pretty much can skate by for nearly two weeks without a charge! Even better – I never even think about it because my Fitbit App sends me an email as well as gives me a message right on my phone when my Fitbit is running low on battery life. What?! My Fitbit acts like my mama to tell me when I should charge it?! Sweet!!!
So, by now you know the benefits. Especially, that nearly ANYONE can do this… walk.
The Fitbit models I would be an advocate of is the Fitbit One – it is a small, clip-on version, which actually has a display of steps taken, calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, a clock, distance gone as well as being able to program it with your name or nickname. (Yes, sometimes it even says, “Smooches, Mikey!” when I hit my goals. And isn’t that all that we are all looking for? A little lovin’?)
The Fitbit Flex, shown earlier in this post on my wrist, is a pretty small wrist tracker, that I have been wearing lately. I didn’t love it at first, because it tracked nearly double my steps, being on my dominant hand. However, it is SOOOOOOOO much better now, because it now has a setting to be less sensitive to normal hand movements, so is totally accurate now. However, the Flex does not display anything besides some small, pin lights, that light up to tell you very generally where you are at in your daily goal. No step counter display or calories or anything. But you can view all that info on your phone app if you want to. And I’m OK with that right now.
The Fitbit Force is a larger wrist-band, and I hear has pretty much everything the Fitbit One has. In other words, it is the One and Flex combined. But it is larger than the Flex, and personally, I don’t like rings or larger wristbands weighing me down. But that’s just me!
Check out what works for you and count those steps. You’ll be amazed how much the Fitbit will motivate you to hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps! You can get it at Best Buy, your local running store or even on Amazon.
[As you can see in a the photo of the Fitbit One above, I began this post at 8:30 and it is now 10:50 – it takes me well over 2 hours to write even one post. So, please… post comments about any pedometers or anything you would like to talk about – I NEED feedback!]