I’m not a gadget person, and I don’t embrace the “quantified self” movement, which seeks to keep track of everything measurable about the human body—weight, body mass index, blood pressure, heart rate, calories consumed, miles walked, jogged, biked, etc.
But ever since I wrote the post Why sitting is bad for your health I’ve been more committed to racking up 10,000 steps every day.
Now, the 10,000 steps a day recommendation is not an exact science, but it’s a reasonable goal for a healthy adult. Also, to reach that goal, I have to move a lot throughout the day and can’t just sit at my computer for extended lengths of time.
Once I realized I really was sitting too much, I started trying to measure my daily steps. I found an old pedometer in the back of a junk drawer and wore it around for a few days. But I wasn’t able to calibrate it properly and I swear it only recorded about every third step I took. And then I’d forget to write down the number at the end of the day, or to reset it the following morning. I threw it back into the junk drawer.
Then I downloaded a free pedometer app onto my phone. Not only was it a hassle to carry my phone everywhere in my pocket rather than my purse, but it kept freezing up and I’d lose hours’ worth of steps.
So my husband took pity on me and offered to buy me a Fitbit. He’s had one since they first became available and loves it. I used to tease him about his “bracelet”, but then I realized he was getting much more daily exercise than I was.
I looked at the different models on the Fitbit website and decided to go with the smallest and cheapest, the Zip. It’s a fob you clip to your clothing, but it has a display that shows the time, steps, distance, calories burned and—to provide motivation—an emoticon that either frowns or smiles at you, depending on your level of activity.
Like the other Fitbits, you can download an app to your computer that will automatically sync with the Fitbit to display all the information on a dashboard. I love that I don’t have to write anything down, or reset the device every day!
The retail price of the Zip is $59.99, but I got mine for less than half price on Ebay (new in a damaged box).
I didn’t see a need to get a more expensive model, as I really only wanted to keep track of my steps and have that extra nudge to keep moving.
Other models track sleep, which I didn’t find helpful. I wore my husband’s bracelet for a few nights just to check it out. Although the Fitbit can differentiate between when you are moving and when you are still (supposedly sleeping), it can’t determine your sleep stage or your quality of sleep.
Related story from Huffington Post: Fitness trackers and sleep: How accurate are they?
The more expensive models also sync with your phone or have GPS capability. I didn’t want or need these.
My Fitbit Zip was inexpensive, it’s easy to use, and it has definitely increased the time I spend moving and decreased the time I spend tied to my chair. I wouldn’t normally recommend any gadget, but this one is helping me stay healthy.
I love it!