Should You Get a Fitbit?

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You have numerous options for a wearable fitness tracker: Jawbone Up, Nike FuelBand, Basis Band, Polar Loop, the Fitbit Flex and more. The Fitbit Flex is one of the least expensive and most popular activity trackers, and it works with either an iPhone or Android. Should you get a Fitbit?

From Google Glass to the Apple Watch, wearable tech is the big new thing – and fitness bands are leading the way. Wireless, wearable activity trackers are getting more and more popular. These bracelet-like devices cost $100-$200, and they measure your steps and other activities, including how well you sleep (based on the time you spend in bed and how much you toss and turn). Data from your tracker is uploaded directly to your smart phone and/or your computer, so that you can see your progress from day to day.

I decided to purchase one of these high-tech bracelets to kick-start a new exercise regimen. My Fitbit Flex arrived within days and after an overnight charge, was ready to go. It’s a simple accessory: one data tracking device, and two sizes of black rubber bracelets for you to choose from. It also comes with a USB charger and a wireless sync dongle for your computer.

The Fitbit Flex keeps track of your steps taken, calories burned, miles moved and active minutes. You can also use the online dashboard to enter your food eaten, exercise performed, water consumed, pounds lost, etc. It is pre-set with a daily goal of 10,000 steps, but you can switch this to a certain mileage or number of calories burned if you would like.

Pros:

  • The Fitbit’s battery lasts for five to six days, and charges up completely within a few hours.
  • Wireless data syncing is extremely fast – in fact, I can hold my iPhone 5 and see the steps accrue as I walk.
  • At $99, Fitbit Flex is one of the least expensive activity trackers.
  • If you forget to switch it from sleep mode to daytime mode or vice versa, the device figures it out anyway and your steps are accurately tracked.
  • All it takes are a couple of taps on the bracelet to find out where you stand for the day towards reaching your goal.
  • You can receive encouraging alerts throughout the day “Only 1,120 steps until you make your goal!” or “You’re 2,388 steps ahead of your daily goal – what an overachiever!” Everyone needs a little encouragement, even if it’s from an automated system.
  • Measuring your steps works if your goal is to walk more. If you are about to settle in for the night but see that you have 629 steps to goal until you reach your goal – chances are, you’ll take a stroll around the block. Or the house; I’ve actually made a few dozen loops in my apartment at night in order to reach my daily goal.

Cons:

  • It gets annoying having to wear a drab black rubber bracelet every day, particularly for someone like me who doesn’t normally wear many (if any) wrist accessories. However, there are different colored bands available for purchase if you want to change the scenery, and Tory Burch has designed a fancy gold Fitbit case to upgrade your look. You can also take the data tracker out of the bracelet, and wear it in your bra.
  • I had to get used to sleeping with something around my wrist – I usually don’t wear anything at all. I still wake up from time to time when the rubber gets caught on the sheets, or the bracelet gets tapped and the lights turn on.
  • I have realized how very few calories I actually burn as a 36 year-old woman, and it’s a bit depressing. A leisurely 45-minute stroll in the park with my dog isn’t quite the workout that I had previously assumed - and I can no longer pretend that cleaning my house qualifies as serious exercise. But that is all the more reason to find new ways to be active.

Overall – I am more active since I starting wearing the Fitbit, although I was committed to this change before the bracelet arrived. If you are dedicated to becoming more active in your life, a wearable fitness tracker can help you towards your goal.

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 Image: kara brugman

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