Like most college students, I am constantly on the go. Running to class, catching the subway, walking down Broad Street – “going” is so ingrained in my routine that I don’t stop to think about it. Now, after a month of wearing of my Fitbit Flex wristband, I realize that I don’t have to.
The average American walks 5,900 steps each day. The Fitbit product design sets a goal for users of 10,000 steps each day. Tap the band to display a line of five lights – each light is worth 2,000 steps (20% of your goal). Right now, I have three solid lights and a fourth blinking light, which means I’m not yet at 8,000. The wristband syncs to my phone and gives me the exact read of 6,183 steps and tells me I’ve walked 2.62 miles so far. Not too shabby for a workday.
The wristband is more than a pricey pedometer. While I have the most basic model, others give BPM readings and display the time and temperature. Linked with the MyFitnessPal app, mine helps me measure my caloric intake.
Since it monitors my heart rate, it helps me determine how much I need to exercise in order to get to my goal weight. Instead of guessing how much work I’ve put into a field hockey practice or hour at the gym, it has an exact measure for how many calories I burned in my different fitness sessions.
When I’m shy of 10,000 steps, it sends messages of encouragement to my phone to let me know how much more I need to do. When I hit the goal or surpass it, my wristband hosts a mini light show and congratulates me.
It also monitors my sleep when I tap it into sleep mode – the app shows me exactly what times I was restless or sound asleep. Thanks to this combined system, I was able to pinpoint why I yawned through most of my afternoons – I was consuming too much caffeine late at night and I was waking myself up through most of my sleep activity.
The Fitbit is waterproof so I can wear it in the shower and outside in the rain, a Godsend in terrible April weather. But I do need to take the wristband off every week or so to charge it. I choose to do this usually when I’m in bed or when I’m sitting at my computer for a length of time so I don’t miss a significant amount of steps.
While I could spend another few paragraphs singing its praises, the wristband isn’t foolproof. I accidentally lit my wrist up a dozen times at a friend’s concert last week just by clapping – the vibrations activated the tapping system and put it into sleep mode. Similarly, I spent an infuriating amount of time the other morning trying to tap out of sleep mode before giving up, wasting a few thousand steps to Fairmount.
Also, according to LiveScience, the suggested step goal for Americans from the CDC is only 7,000 – 8,000 steps per day and engaging in 150 minutes of activity per week is sufficient for exercise. The Mayo Clinic encourages people trying to lose weight to increase their daily steps by 1,000 steps before setting the bar at 10,000. Fitbit also caters more to people trying to lose weight with its goal system. Studies agree that the Fitbit system isn’t harmful, but may be too ambitious.
It’s not going to revolutionize the world of fitness, but the Fitbit Flex serves my weight loss purposes. Always on the go, I haven’t had trouble with the 10,000-step goal and I have to admit – at the end of the day, it’s always satisfying when my wrist lights up in celebration to let me know I’m taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
By Jessica Smith