I know I’m a little bit late to the party, but this last week I finally got my own Fitbit. What many people have been using for 10 years already, has become my newest tool in staying healthy. In case you don’t know, a Fitbit is basically a wireless physical activity tracker. In short, it’s a fancy pedometer that can do so much more. It tracks number of steps per day, active periods of activity, calories, sleep quality, food and water intake, and in some models, heart rate. Fitbit isn’t the only activity tracker on the market. Jawbone, Misfit, Garmin and TomTom are just a few of other manufacturers out there. While this specific piece is how the Fitbit is my new best friend, pretty much any activity tracker is going to help you get healthy. Pick one that’s right for you, and get moving!
1. It Shows You How Much You DON’T Move
Having an almost 4 year old, I always just assumed that I never stop moving. The truth is, SHE never stops moving and I apparently spend a fair amount of time sitting and recovering. The first full day I wore my Fitbit, I went to church and then a day date with my husband to see a movie. Apparently, sitting for those 3+ hours really takes a toll on your activity level! You can see in the photo above where I sat and watched a 2.5 hour movie- NO movement at all! Suddenly, getting 8,000-10,000 steps (the recommended amount for a healthy heart as recommended by the American Heart Association) wasn’t so easy! I had to deliberately go out and walk, walk, walk to meet my goal. If I hadn’t been wearing my Fitbit, I wouldn’t have thought twice about exercising. In fact, I would have enjoyed a lazy Sunday afternoon and probably continued lounging around. Additionally, the Fitbit really shows you what 10,000 steps FEELS like. It’s a LOT of movement and takes diligence and effort, just like living a healthy lifestyle.
2. Hourly Activity Reminders
It’s recommended that you get up and move at least 250 steps per hour for your health and creativity. Working a desk-based job means that I often spend 2 hours sitting consecutively, with little to no movement from the waist down. Luckily, my Fitbit sends me a reminder every hour during the work day to get up and move around. I can promise you that I never would have thought about taking a quick walk break before my Fitbit. Not only is it easier to make my step goal every day now, but I feel more refreshed as a result of the consistent breaks from sitting.
3. Tracks Sleep
Sleep. It’s that 5 letter word that brings a smile to your face, but that rarely gets taken in regular intervals. If you wear your Fitbit while you sleep (which takes some getting used to because of the rubber wristband), you will awaken to some super useful information. You can set a sleep schedule to ensure you get the rest you need, and then your Fitbit will show you if you met that hourly goal, as well as document how many times you were restless or awake. As funny as it sounds, getting adequate sleep SHOULD be a goal. Without proper rest, your body is going to have a hard time meeting your physically daily goals, not to mention your emotional and mental responsibilities on a daily basis. Plus, you can use it to prove to your husband how much his snoring wakes you up.
4. Community Challenges
One of the most useful features on a Fitbit are the Challenges. You can pick from a variety of options and then invite your Fitbit friends to join you. You can cheer, jeer and taunt each other as you try to get the most steps. It’s definitely made me think twice about sitting on the couch versus going for a walk. As you can see in the photo above, there are some SERIOUS walkers out there. I’m in 4th place, and that’s despite walking over 11,000 steps per day. Working a desk job definitely has it’s limitations, as my friends are teachers and on their feet much more. But I’m doing my best to stay in the game, and this week isn’t over yet!
5. Food & Water Diaries
I am seriously HORRIBLE at drinking water. It’s not that I’m a big soda or coffee drinker. I’m just never thirsty. Seriously. But I know how important it is for your body and skin so I’m trying to be better at it. The Fitbit helps you set a goal that aligns with your body weight and then lets you track your water intake throughout the day. It’s been a game changer for me because I just never paid attention to it before. Now I’m addicted to getting my green star- proof that I met my goal. I may spend more time in the bathroom now, but I know I’m doing good by my body!
6. Random Features
When I purchased my Fitbit, I had no idea it was more than just a step counter. In addition to some of the amazing features I’ve already discussed, my Fitbit has become my own personal assistant. I can receive texts and alerts that my phone is ringing, set silent alarms for the morning (or any time for anything, really), track weight loss and connect with friends. I have the Fitbit Alta, and can also customize my display to show what I want, in the order I need it.
It’s a new year, why not do something for yourself and get healthy?