Tuesday, 11 March 2014

FitBit says I'm not that Fit?!


You may recall this post from last year, in which I was waxing lyrically about my newfound love for the FitBit pedometer.

Almost a year on, I’ve gotten my hands on a newer version of the same step-counter and thought I’d give it a try. This one’s a bracelet, so unlike having to remember clipping the old version into my bra, I just keep it on at all times (unless I’m in the shower). This thing can even measure your sleep patterns, which I did for a while. Then the thought of having my every waking AND sleeping hour measured and stored away somewhere in the data universe freaked me out too much, so now it comes off when I go to bed. Two people in there are enough!


Now, my work is rather sedentary. Not rather, it is. Plain and simple. My life, on the other hand, tends to be a bit more active. I work out a lot and am generally moving about a fair bit, whether it’s doing the grocery run, pottering around the house or going for a walk along the seafront.

You might recall that I told you that the suggested daily rate of steps is 10,000. You may also recall that that’s not actually that easy to achieve.

With a lot more work and a lot less running (read: none), I was curious to see what my daily total would amount to on average. Unfortunately, I’m having a really rough time making it to 10,000 steps.

That’s got me wondering how realistic a 10,000-step goal actually is. I go to CrossFit on average three times a week. The other days I tend to do yoga or go for long walks. On Mondays after CF, I tag on a trip to the store to do my weekly food shop. I usually end up pottering about the house, cooking meals, tidying, etc. but yes, I also spend a fair amount of time in front of my computer, cause that’s how I pay my bills. Now on that kind of day, despite CrossFit, grocery shopping, etc., I still struggle to reach my daily step-goal, unless our WoD (workout of the day) happened to include, say, 400m repeats. That ain’t right? Or is it? I’m active, I work out, I move, yet I’m still not ‘getting enough exercise’?!

To be honest, all this has me a bit skeptical. Don’t get me wrong. I know how important it is for us to move and exercise, etc. But I would consider myself a pretty active person and I have days where I simply struggle to reach my goal. I have a friend who walks to and from work most days of the week. That’s an hour and a half round trip. Now she manages 10,000+ steps per day. When I go to work, I walk across my upstairs landing. That’s it. And I would bet that most people aren’t willing and/or able to put in an hour and a half commute on foot on a daily basis.

Take the other day, for example. I got up, did my bits around the house and sat down to work. I managed to finish my project early so decided to throw in a 30-minute yoga session, followed by a walk, as it was sunny out. I walked to our local pool (25mins.) to inquire about swimming lessons, walked to the shop to pick up some bits for dinner (15mins.) and from there walked back home (20mins.). I was out walking for a full hour and only managed this:



I then tidied the house, cooked dinner for G, a friend and myself, did more cleaning and finally sat down on the couch for an hour of TV pre-bedtime. My daily total? Only 8,910 steps. I may not have gone to CrossFit or squeezed in a run, but that was a pretty active day, or at least so I thought.

I’ve decided to stop driving myself mad over this. I think I can say with confidence that I’m a pretty active person. So I may not regularly reach my 10,000 steps a day, but then I have days where I manage double that. Or I forget to wear my FitBit, don’t have my every move measured and guess what? The world doesn’t end either.

So as ever, I think it’s important to use these things with a bit of common sense. If you’re overweight and/or extremely sedentary, it’s a great little gadget to start measuring your daily activity levels and provide a little kick up the derrière in terms of motivation and all. If you’re an already active person with a pretty balanced and healthy lifestyle and are curious to see how many steps a day you manage, it’s a fun little gadget to have – but don’t let it rule your life!

If you are curious about your own daily steppage, you can order a FitBit from here (UK only).

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a helpful gadget to have or yet another unnecessary piece of technology to complicate our lives further?

4 comments:

  1. I love a gadget but I am now starting to fall a little out of love with them. I am never really sure that they indicate anything to me I didn't already know or was aware of. Plus as a data geek I will happily spend hours pouring over the results or give myself a random challenge to meet. I think I agree with yourself that you need to use these with some common sense, something I clearly lack :)

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  2. I have a jawbone up and really like it as an activity tracker, I think it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt though. I often hit over the 10,000 steps mark especially on days when I run, but there are days when I also don't hit it- yesterday was around 8,000 during which I cycled 10 miles and did 30 minutes of weights which although don't equate to steps are keeping me active.

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  3. I have owned a fitbit flex since Christmas and I struggle to reach 10k steps on non running days due to my desk job. Having data from the fitbit encourages me to go a little further on my dog walks to try and reach the daily goal though. As long as my activities average out over the week I don't worry!

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  4. I've always been a bit curious about these type of gadgets, and I suspect that they could be really helpful for people who are totally inactive, but if you are already fit and look after yourself I don't think the stats are anything worth stressing over. Would be fun to have a play around with one though!

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