Saturday, February 27, 2016

Fitness Trackers | Do they work?

Back when I used to work in public accounting, during tax season we would do pedometer challenges to see who could get the most steps in while we were working 11+ hour days. Fun, huh? It basically encouraged us to keep moving so that we didn't mold our butts into our chairs. When I first heard that the goal was to get 10k steps/day I was floored. I couldn't believe it was even possible to get that many steps in -- especially when you had a desk job. A few of my co-workers lived really close to the office and could walk to work. That was a huge advantage for them. One of them would regularly get 20k steps a day -- even while sitting all day at work. I was intrigued!

We tracked our steps by week and after the entire season, we would see how far across the US we could walk if we combined all of our steps. I think we made it from Seattle to the mid-west one year? The point is, you have to make exercise, tracking steps and just being active fun. That's why one of my favorite features of the Fitbit Flex is how you can be social with friends. You can challenge others to daily step wars and see how you rank among your friends.

Before my Fitbit days, I had a Jawbone UP for about a year. It served it's purpose but a few of the big issues I had was that it didn't have a screen (or really anyway to tell you how many steps you'd gotten in) and you had to manually plug it into your phone for results.  When it died suddenly (RIP Jawbone), I decided to get a Fitbit and I am so glad I did. I love how you can tap it to see how much progress you've made and also how it syncs automatically with my phone for real-time results.

I know there are mixed feelings out there about the effectiveness of these trackers, but I know for me, I have found them to be very effective and eye-opening. I cannot ignore those days were I work 12 hours and then only get in about 2,000 steps all day because I didn't take breaks, grab water, walk to the bathroom, just simple things. For me, awareness was the first step. After I became aware, then  I knew I could make changes but if I never even realized that I was only getting in a few thousand steps per day, making those changes would never have crossed my mind. I even park farther away at the grocery store so I can get more steps in.

One of my very favorite features of these trackers is their ability to track your sleep. Now I am not sure how accurate they are, but it's really nice to be able to tell how many hours I got of deep vs light sleep, how long it took me to fall asleep, how many hours I slept for etc.  I think knowledge is power and anytime I can make better decisions based on how informed I am, you bet I am going to try to get as much data and info as I can to make the best decision possible. I feel like I need about 7 hours of sleep per night and I can usually tell without looking at my tracker how many hours I got based on how I feel the next day.

Bottom line: I believe my fitness tracker is helping me reach my goals and I plan to keep using it for several years to come.

Do you have a fitness tracker? If so, tell me about it in the comments section below.


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