Monday, 4 January 2016

The Fitbit - what is it, how does it work and do I need one in my life?

For Christmas, my husband gave me a Fit Bit. Now some might be ever so slightly insulted by this but he knows that I like running type gadgets and I already have a Garmin running watch (which is now about 10 years old and the size of a small TV but it's still fully functioning. In fact people ask whether it's a new, cool, retro style. No, it's an old uncool large style). So, being a slight geek, I was well chuffed. He bought me the FitBit Charge HR which is discreet and which looks like this..... (I'm not going to include the price because being a present that wouldn't feel right.)

I've also recently had a reader contact me to see what I think of Fitbits (or similar gadgets) and whilst I know I'm only in the first flush of geekiness with it, I really love it. 

I didn't really appreciate what these little watch sized things could do until I had a good play around with mine so I'll give you a quick whizz through.

This is the first screen. I've set mine up to show the information detailed below but there is more to add if you wish. We did a really long run yesterday so I wanted to set it as against my running watch to check the stats. It actually came up short on the distance so I'm not quite sure of its accuracy in that sense. I've nothing to measure the other stats by so I wouldn't rely on them too heavily but they offer a really good indicator of what I'm up to. 

Each of the above can be broken down further by clicking on the arrow next to them. So for example you can see from the above screen that I burned 2,982 calories and the screen below shows you how that's broken down. See that plateau mid afternoon where not much happened? That's when I went to the cinema to see Joy and sat on my butt for two hours.

I guess it's a bit scary really - I'm sure that the police could use this type of information as evidence somehow in the future. (No it wasn't me who was seen running away from the crime scene, I was sitting at home watching TV. Really? Your heart rate/step rate/calorie burn from you Fit Bit would seem to suggest otherwise.) OK, maybe not.

This is the more detailed information available relating to the "Steps" screen. I did a lot of pottering around the house today, plus some low intensity exercise which doesn't show up hugely, but then it shows that I took quite a few steps tonight when running - and I seem to have created an image of the Empire State Building.

Then it's possible to get down to the whole heart rate business. This graph shows beats per minute and how long you spend in each of the heart rate "zones". Oddly I only seem to be able to get my heart rate into the optimum zone when running, although the HIIT workouts that I do feel far more challenging. I measure this in the most scientific of ways ie whether I'm still able to chat to my friends or not at the same time as undertaking the particular type of exercise in question.

And, it's also possible to get stats relating to your sleep. I haven't quite worked out how I'm restless for so many minutes as I'm never aware of even moving in the night, let alone being awake but that gives me something else to investigate *geek alert*.

So, there you go! That's what a Fit Bit is all about. For those starting out on an exercise journey, I think that they could act as a great motivator. Getting to 10,000 steps a day with a sedentary job probably wouldn't be that easy but it might just encourage someone to take extra steps wherever possible to reach their goal. Or they could just hate the bloody thing, chuck it out of the window and open the nearest packet of biscuits. I guess it all just depends on how you're wired.