January 30, 2014
It’s 11:45 p.m. and I am in my pajamas, running up and down the stairs to ensure I surpass everybody in my social network, including (and most importantly) my husband, in daily steps. At that moment, I realized FitBit was onto something.
The FitBit is a small device with an accelerometer that can be worn as a bracelet or clip. It tracks the steps you take during the day, your sleep patterns at night and even the flights of stairs you climb. You can set a personal goal for each day, and when that goal is reached your wrist is massaged with a congratulatory buzzing from the device. The online tool allows you to record the food you eat and calculates your energy balance for each day. The appeal for more competitive folks (myself included) is the ability to compare the progress of you and your friends socially through the FitBit online dashboard. With the ability to taunt, cheer and message your FitBit friends, your options for social support are endless.
What’s the Big Deal?
So why has this device exploded in popularity in the past several years? According to Dr. Michael Mantell, Ph.D., Senior Fitness Consultant for Behavioral Sciences at ACE, “It's all about FitBit tapping into human ego. We want to be cool (latest product), like to see our progress easily and immediately, and want our friends to see it too (sharing on social media) so it becomes a bit of social health addiction.” The FitBit takes fitness and food tracking to the next level by giving us continuous feedback and by sharing our successes with others.
How Can the FitBit Benefit You?
This device offers many benefits. I love the step tracking and social sharing, while some friends use it primarily to monitor sleep. Surely one of these features will be appealing to you.
1. It’s a pedometer: These trackers monitor your steps, and do so quite accurately. According to FitBit, step tracking is 95 to 97 percent accurate when the device is worn correctly.
2. Counting stairs: The FitBit One and FitBit Force have a built-in altimeter that will count flights of stairs for the day.
3. Wake up quietly: The FitBeit features a “silent alarm,” which your spouse will love! Rather than the startling sound of an alarm clock, a gentle buzzing will waken you.
4. Social sharing: You are able to share as much or as little information as you like socially. For those who prefer to keep their goals personal, they do not need to share anything. Others like their friends to see, and possibly compete with, their levels of activity.
5. Sleep tracking: The device will track your sleep activity. When in sleep mode, the FitBit tracks when you are actually asleep, when you are restless, and when you are moving so much you are actually awake.
6. Calorie counting: Use FitBit’s online tool to record foods eaten and compare with calories expended through the day for successful weight loss or weight maintenance.
7. Continuous motivation: The FitBit Flex has a series of blinking dots that tell you how close you are to your daily goal. The FitBit One and FitBit Force give you an actual number read out. The app can send you encouraging messages as you approach your goal. And no feeling is more rewarding than the “you did it!” buzzing of the device when your daily goal is reached.
8. It’s indestructible: Well, that may be an overstatement, but the FitBit is waterproof and very durable. I wear mine 24/7 and it has survived kettlebell slams, regular dips in a chlorinated pool and extreme temperatures.
“With FitBit, the ‘flower’ we automatically ‘nurture’ on it as we do better is a hidden part of our motivation,” explains Mantell. And now I am off to nurture my flower (go for a jog) to stay on top of my leaderboard.
Shana is an American Council on Exercise and TRX Master Instructor and a six-time world champion lumberjack athlete. She also holds records as a collegiate pole vaulter and is a nationally ranked fitness competitor. She holds a degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and is a certified personal trainer through ACE, NASM, and NFPT.
The Fitness Director at Supreme Health and Fitness in Madison, Wis., Shana is also a highly accomplished coach across multiple disciplines. She has guided her lumberjack athletes and fitness competitors to world best performances and her collegiate track and field athletes hold many school records. An energetic and personable speaker, she is also the national spokesperson for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.