I don’t have any good reason to get a pedometer or an activity tracking device.
I just wanted one.
Especially after talking with my friend, Brian, who could have been a spokesperson for the Fitbit Charge, an advanced activity wristband that tracks your steps, calories burned, floors climbed and even your sleep pattern.
Why I wanted one… It’s hard to explain.
I was definitely intrigued with the option to track my sleep, which this device does automatically. (Some others require you to switch to sleep mode. Which I would likely never remember to do.) It figures out, based on your lack of movement, when you’re actually asleep, how many times you wake up in the middle of slumber, and how restless you are. Pretty interesting data.
But I was also curious about how many steps I take in a day — and what that translated to in terms of distance and calories.
See, I think I’m a pretty active person, in general. I walk the dogs twice a day, often for miles. I hike at least once a week. And since I tend to forget things at home — iPhone, keys, the garbage I’m supposed to take out — I tend to walk up and down my front stairs a lot.
But I wanted to know just how active I was. And whether being that active meant anything.
So I logged onto Amazon to see what my options were.
The San Franciso-based Fitbit has been around since 2007. Its original tracker — now called the Fitbit Classic — had all the basics, tracking steps, distance, calories and sleep. The Ultra came out next, adding an altimeter (tracks elevation), stairs and a stopwatch to time activities.
In order to compete with other tech-based fitness devices — namely, Garmin, Jawbone and Nike — Fitbit added different styles to its lineup, including the One and Zip models, which you clip on. They were the first to sync wirelessly using Bluetooth. Then it introduced the Flex, which you could wear around your wrist.
And then there came the Charge.
Sleek, nondescript, functional, easy to use, full of features including caller ID and the ability to link up with friends — and just $124. I was sold.
My goal, as is most users’ goal, was to hit 10,000 steps in a single day.
So what’s the magic of 10,000 steps?
It’s a rough equivalent to 30 minutes of activity, which is recommended by the Surgeon General. And the step count is approximately — very approximately — five miles.
I decided to get one for my husband and mom, too. (Husband hasn’t even charged his Fitbit yet; Mom uses it every day.) I wanted to gauge my fitness level with others.
Turns out, I’m pretty fit. I often hit 8,000 steps by 10 a.m., thanks to daily morning walks or hikes with the dogs. I figured out that if I walk the dogs in the morning, then go about my daily activities, and walk or run in the afternoon, I’ll hit, if not exceed, 10,000 steps.
There are some days when I surpass 20,000 steps. (Amazingly, my mom sometimes doesn’t even break 4,000 steps. She’s loving the retired life!)
And that’s why I stopped using it.
I love the Fitbit, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve got everything I need out of it. I’m not tracking my eating habits or water intake. I’m not trying to lose weight with it. I just wanted to know how active I was — and that’s pretty much it.
Here’s what I like about this device:
• It easily syncs with my iPhone (Androids, too) and laptop, on which I can see my progress. The charts are visually informative and easy to read.
• The sleep function is interesting. I found out that all I need is seven hours of fairly restful sleep to feel good.
• It’s smaller and sleeker than a watch, so wearing it isn’t awkward. The wristband is comfy, too.
• It charges super quickly — just 20 minutes for a full charge. And it lasts about a week on a single charge.
• Seeing how many steps I had taken motivates me to reach 10,000 every day. If I see that I’m at 8,000, I’ll go for a walk or run — just to hit that number. So that’s good.
• I actually like the caller ID function. Since I keep my phone on vibrate mode — and, I’ll be honest, I’m always misplacing it — it’s nice to get a buzz on my wrist with the caller’s name to let me know someone is trying to reach me.
• The alarms are helpful, especially if you set it to buzz after a few hours to remind you to get up from your desk and walk around.
What I didn’t like — and this list is way shorter:
• The Fitbit is NOT water resistant, which doesn’t work for me. I’m active in the water, so this device can’t track that activity — and I keep forgetting to take it off. (It will survive rain, sweat and the occasional shower.)
• The wristband is comfortable, but the snap-fast clasp has a tendency to unfasten on its own.
• It’s pricey, especially if, like me, you only need it for a month to gauge your fitness.
So that’s my take on it.
Do I regret buying it? No. I learned a lot about my activity habits and sleep patterns.
But I wish I could’ve just rented it, instead.