Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Christmas came and I ended up with a Fitbit Flex. Bit of a story behind that, but perhaps another time.

The Fitbit, a very popular fitness device. I've been watching some sports TV at the gym and there were a number of Fitbit ads. It could be argued where else would a fitness device be advertised but on a sports channel? It was a very positive ad, as they all are. In fact if one looks at the local electronic store, there are a numbers of devices that do the same. Or one could simply use the smartphone with the various apps that would give the same functionality. So why go for something on the wrist? I do have a watch, I still wear one, in fact my watch is a GPS enabled watch, which I use when I run. On the other wrist I have my various silicone bracelets, yes I still wear those. In fact, try and take them off my wrist, I don't think so. But that's not the topic. I first wondered about wearing one and was it something I would be interested.

When you purchase the Fitbit Flex, you will have the Fitbit and a wireless dongle. Chances are you're not going to use it. If you do, it plugs into the USB port on your computer desktop or laptop and it is used to synchronize the Fitbit. This is because there is a website which one can track and keep a record of the activity. However, one of the best aspects of the Fitbit is the fact that it's Bluetooth enabled, so with a good smartphone one can easily sync without having to go through a dongle.

I believe there are two main functions, at least that is what I'm using the most: measuring steps and timing sleep. The default is 10,000 steps a day. This is based on the idea that 10,000 steps is a good number to walk a day, it works out to approximately 8 km, or 5 miles a day. As we have been made aware, sitting at a desk for 8 hours or more can have a very negative impact on health. Some are calling sitting the new smoking. I don't know if I would go that far, but sitting down for a very long time can be detrimental to your overall well-being. I'm discovering that sitting down doesn't help your outlook on life at all, probably because when at work, you're doing something that takes all the attention and there's a deadline connected and it becomes you and that is a troubling place to be. Plus you're spending far too much time at Facebook and there's a big beautiful world out there, and you could be enjoying it and posting the photos you admire on the page of others. Well, that was a bit of a rant, let's get back to the steps. Your steps are measured out for you, and with the Flex, I can by tapping the top of it, get an idea of the number of steps I've taken. Plus when I reach the goal, it vibrates. In fact vibration is one of the ways the device communicates with the wearer. For true accuracy, the sync'ing with the website and more like your smartphone will give you all the information. As I mentioned, it is Bluetooth enabled and does quite a good job in the syncing, not too much of a delay. Also, through the smartphone app, you can add more data as required. One thing I keep forgetting is how much water I drink in the day. Along with the daily total, you can get an idea of how you've been doing over the past week, has it been a good week to walk, or has there been way too much sitting. As you study the graph, or even look at the daily numbers, you gain a motivation to do better. After all, how difficult is it to walk 10,000 steps, surprising sometimes it can be difficult. So you begin to strategize how you plan to either pass it or at least improve. That might be it's hidden function, not just a keeper of steps, but a motivator you wear on your wrist, at all time. Of course, if you suffer a bit with OCD, this might become a shackle, because your entire life will now be geared to those 5 little flashing LED's. This is probably part of the secret sauce of the Fitbit, you have this motivation on your wrist and you don't want to get rid of it.

. Then there is sleep. Do a search on 'not getting enough sleep'. There are all sorts of reports. One website has this comment:

Getting fewer than 6 hours of shut-eye night after night is risky. In one study, people over the age of 45 who got less than 6 hours of sleep a night doubled their chances for stroke or heart attack and were also more likely to have heart failure.
Of course if you get more then 8 hours, there are other complications. It seems for adults, the sweet spot is between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Then again, with television and the Internet, there are so many distractions. This is where Fitbit can help, you can monitor your sleep and each morning you can download a graph that will give you the times of sleep, how many times you were either up or restless. The latter according to the help file means you were moving about, although you weren't fully awake, or you had some sleep related issues. Then there is the times you were awake. It will give you the minutes you were awake and so you will have a good idea, also it will feature the time you were awake. You can probably deduce what the problem was, mine would be the cat wanting in, and then wanting to be fed.

As with the steps, it defaults to 8 hours. So each morning, this can be downloaded and you can probably look back and understand why you were either so full of energy or why it didn't matter how much coffee you drank, you were dragging yourself at work.

Like I said there are other activities to track, such as calories burned, amount of water drank, also you can post a specific exercise, plus you get the amount of time you were active. So there is a great deal of feedback available for you to track and follow through. It's good to get feedback instead of wondering if you're doing enough, or getting enough sleep, or exercise, or water for that matter. All of this, on your wrist.

Overall, I would say the Fitbit family of devices are worth owning and using. They can be very unobtrusive, being they are just on your wrist. Although I will say, they are easily identifiable. You can customize your Fitbit, there are a large selection of wristbands of every color and design imaginable. Just check out the global flea market that is Ebay. I just purchased a teal one and it looks nice. I suspect you can get a wristband that will match your mood or outfit. I'm still learning but I think this will be an important part of my overall fitness plan. The more I learn, the more it will become a part of me.

If I was to give a downside, it's just one more device to wear. I'm still not sure how to track non moving exercise, I know it can be done through the website, but that's a bit of a pain, I wear this to the gym and when I'm working out, I would like to know how it gets tracked. Also, there is question about accuracy, some times it seems to track more steps then other devices. Still, it gives a general idea on how things are going and will help you track your day. So they are worth owning and using.

I'll keep you posted.

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