I recently had the opportunity to become familiar with the Fitbit product line through a work project and decided to take advantage and give the product a try.
The Fitbit product
The basis of the Fitbit product is a pedometer that tracks steps and other functions such as counting the amount of stairs climbed, vibrating alarms, and sleep tracking.
The first Fitbit that I used was the Fitbit Zip. This is their least expensive model and sells for about $60. The Zip tracks steps and some other items like the time, calories burned, etc. From the reviews that I read on Amazon, it seemed that many people liked the Fitbit One and Flex models which are newer and offer some new features including sleep tracking.
I did some research on the One and the Flex and they both have comparable features. I decided to purchase the Flex because it is waterproof, it goes on your wrist like a watch, and has a silent alarm. I was worried that I would lose the One which many people complained about in the reviews that I read on Amazon. The largest complaint about the Flex was that it was not as accurate as the One or Zip and it does not count stairs climbed like the One.
I have since compared the Flex with the Zip to gauge the accuracy of the Flex. Over the course of three days I found that out of an average of over 10,000 steps in a single day that the Flex was only 284 steps short of the count of the Zip. I will take the difference of 2.84% for the ability to hopefully not lose the Flex and the ability for it to get wet. The alarm is a nice feature for a bonus.
The next item that I decided to purchase from Fitbit was their Aria product which is a weight scale that syncs with the Fitbit.com site through your Wi-Fi connection. Not only does it capture the weight of its users, it can also gather BMI information. The Aria is not limited to a single user, it is intelligent enough to recognize up to eight different people.
Here is and example of the weight graph in the Fitbit.com site. It supplies more detail and is nice to have for reference. The first spike on the left was the result of a week at the cabin in the summer 🙂
The combination of the Flex and Aria scale
With both the Flex and Aria, the Fitbit.com site becomes very informative. I can track my weight history, my activity, calorie counts, calorie burn, water intake, and food intake. Fitbit has opened up an API layer to allow other products and services to be synced with Fitbit.com. I can use the large food database of MyFitnessPal and the tracking of bike rides with Endomondo to input into my calories consumed and burned. The Fitbit.com site then becomes a nice ‘hub’ for all of your activities and inputs.
The positive effect of using a Fitbit
Being more aware of my activity levels has been motivating. When I am close to 10,000 steps I want to meet or exceed my goal. When I am really light on step counts, I want to get something logged for the day. When I take a walk to get the full 10,000 steps I will go out of my way to make sure that I will have reached my goal by the time I am home. When I travel, I am on the treadmill until my goal is hit.
Stepping on the Aria scale every morning has been rewarding to see the progress of my weight loss. It also allows me to watch my weight. If I am trending up then I know that I need to take it easy for a couple of days.
I have been working on losing weight since late 2012 and was generally aware of where I was but had no record or reference. Recently, I asked my doctor to provide some weight history and he was able to print a graph. Now I can produce this information myself as shown above.
The social aspect
Part of the benefit of having others with Fitbit products around you is the benefit of the social integration of the Fitbit.com site. On the site, I can check my progress compared to my friends over the last seven days and I get a weekly email with my personal progress of many metrics along with where I stand with my friends. As you can see below, I am not doing very well in the winter time…
Being a geek I was drawn to the technology behind the Fitbit product. The integration that they offer with other sites and services is a good indication to me that they are going down the right path with a somewhat ‘open’ platform that recognizes the strength of other services.
Carolyn and I have both use the Flex model and have seen an explosion of usage at work and with friends over the last nine months. The Fitbit product line has been a positive influence on our lives by encouragement and awareness of activity and other health related metrics. I am a big fan!