What I learnt from wearing a Fitbit for a week
Fitness trackers have become a part of the modern health landscape. These wearable pieces of technology can improve our overall health, help us move more, and keep track of our sleeping patterns to ensure we’re better rested.
But for someone who hasn’t ever used a fitness tracker, what can they learn from strapping one on for a week? Melbourne writer TOM BRIGHT wore a Fitbit for a week to find out.
For the first 25 years of my life, I never had to worry about my weight or fitness. I could eat and drink what I wanted and my waistline didn’t pay attention. Then I hit 26 and it all, quite literally, went pear-shaped. I knew I had to start changing my exercise habits. Now, as I approach 30, I go to the gym twice a week, play basketball once a week, ride my bike to work, and walk my dog twice a day. I’m not a fitness freak but I’m more active than I used to be, so when I strapped on a Fitbit for the week, I wanted to see if my ‘active’ lifestyle is, in fact, active enough.
When I first put on my Fitbit Alta and downloaded the Fitbit app to my phone, I found it all a bit overwhelming. Where I would usually not track anything about my eating, drinking or exercise habits, I was now asked to track all of it. I started off with the intention of tracking my food intake, but after my first entry was a cheeseburger and a beer, I thought it would be too confronting to continue. Logging every tiny detail isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so don’t feel bad if you keep it simple as you start out.
For my week of Fitbitting, I set myself the target of hitting 10,000 steps a day. I thought this would be simple but also a challenge. I was half right: on my first day I managed 4,531 steps, which was a pretty poor showing. The next day, I made 8,457 steps. Progress.
Gamifying exercise makes it more fun. It’s not difficult to see the logic here: set yourself a target, in anything in life, and you’re more likely to succeed. My 10,000-step goal was no exception. I was more inclined to get up and wander around than I otherwise would have been. Having said that, my average daily steps for the week came in at 8,000, so there was room for improvement on my part. And having said that, 8,000 steps was probably about 3,000 more than I would’ve taken without the Fitbit, so I still count that as a win.
The fun is in the numbers. If you use Fitbit properly and for long enough, you end up with a big pile of statistics and numbers you can pore over. For example, over the course of a week, I know I walked an average of 6.38km a day, which is a seven-day total of 50.85km. I also know I burned around 2,775 calories and maintained an average of 53 active minutes a day.
The Fitbit is an expert nagger. At first, I wasn’t sure about the idea of this thing on my wrist vibrating every time I wasn’t doing enough exercise. I figured I already had enough to think about. But over the course of the week I came to appreciate it for that exact reason: the Fitbit meant I didn’t have to think about being active because it did all the thinking for me. All I had to do was get up and walk about when it told me to. And the Fitbit nags the right way, with gentle encouragement rather than heavy-handed demands.
You don’t want to disappoint it. It sounds weird, but on the days when I was a little less active than I should have been, I felt guilty looking over my numbers at the end of the day, like I’d somehow let my Fitbit down. The device was doing everything it could to keep me active and healthy, and here I was, taking it for granted. I learnt that’s a big part of how it all works too. Just by having a Fitbit strapped to your wrist, you’re going to be more active than you usually would be, whether you like it or not. And, at the end of the day, I liked it.
Fitbit is a partner of AIA Vitality, the health and wellbeing program available to members of myOwn Health Insurance. Members can save up to 25% off the RRP of a Fitbit device when they purchase through AIA Vitality, plus they can earn up to 50 AIA Vitality points when they step over 7,500 steps per day, and 100 AIA Vitality points when they step over 12,500 steps per day.