Fitbit Review

Ever wonder just how many steps you took on an average day? Most of us would probably think we walk quite a bit, and depending on your job some of you may very well walk a few miles on a daily basis. When Fitness Month began last month, I knew I wanted to become more active, but how do you become "more" active if you have no baseline to compare how active you are currently?

Fitbit has recently released an Android application that allows you to monitor your synced results while on the go. Unfortunately this will not display real-time results -- the Fitbit  tracker is still a necessary evil, and it'll still sync to your computer like normal. But the app will allow access to your previous results easily. In addition there are a few APIs available for developers to use so they can integrate their applications along with the Fitbit, and quite a few Android developers have already done so. MyFitnessPalEndomondo, Lose It and others allow your Fitbit data to sync with their applications to help ensure your activity levels are accurately accounted for across the board.

Sure, you could attempt to count your steps on a daily basis, but what are the odds that you will be able to actually do it? When looking for a way to measure and log my daily levels the one accessory that continued to stand out was the Fitbit.  The Fitbit is a small accessory that you carry along with you daily in your pocket, on your belt, or even attached to your bra if you wish. Could a simple accessory like the Fitbit really have a big impact on your day to day fitness levels? Let's hit the break and dive a little bit deeper into exactly what this little thing can do.

 

Once my Fitbit arrived I was immediately excited to begin using it and checking out just how much activity I did on a daily basis. Unfortunately the Fitbit does not work right out of the box, and will require a computer to sync with prior to use. The setup process is rather simple and only takes a few minutes, but it would have been nice to be able to do without a computer.

Fitbit Dock

The packaging includes a USB connected dock which the unit docks into, and you will need to download the Fitbit software from their site. Once the software is downloaded it will walk you through an account set up where you have to put your height and weight and some additional personal information. After the account is set up and the Fitbit it docked it will give you a unique code to enter which pairs your new Fitbit with your account.

After getting it all set up I strapped it to my hip and began checking out what kind of results I would see. Since I wear a belt on a daily basis I opted to use the belt clip that came with the package, but if you prefer you can clip the Fitbit directly to your pocket, or your bra if preferred, and that is all you have to do. Remembering to take the unit with you everywhere you go is half the battle, and the other half is actually being active.

Fitness Stats

While on you the Fitbit is not only calculating the number of steps you are taking but also the number of calories you are burning, your daily activity level, as well as the number of floors you have climbed that day.  Scrolling between the information is extremely simple, there is only one button on the Fitbit, and pressing it once will take you through all of the options. In addition to displaying your stats for that day, it will also show the time, and at random times you will see inspirational messages being displayed. While you may be skeptical at how accurate the tracking of steps is via the Fitbit, the folks at Fitbit have advised that the unit accurately tracks your movements with a 95 - 98 percent accuracy.

Fitness Tracking

Beyond tracking motions the Fitbit also tracks and stores information on sleeping patterns as well. This was probably one of the most intriguing parts of the whole device, and I was always curious as to how something so simple in appearance could accurately track my sleep. The packaging includes a wrist band which is for docking the unit as you sleep. Unfortunately the wrist band is a hit or miss it appears, and depending on the size of your wrist it may be very comfortable, or extremely uncomfortable.

Sleep Tracking

Before heading to bed all you have to do is place the Fitbit in the wrist strap, and then begin the timer. Starting the timer is extremely simple, all that has to be done is a simple long press of the only button on the unit, and the timer will begin. After it has begun you simply lay there, do your nightly routine and sleep. Upon waking up simply long press the button again and then the activity will end. Just like that your sleeping data has been captured, and once synced to the computer you will be able to see how long you slept, how restful the sleep was, and how many times you woke up during the night.

Syncing the Fitbit was one of my pain points with the device, but nothing that would prevent me from recommending it. The Fitbit does need to sync via a computer, and unfortunately can't just transmit updates to your smartphone, which would be ideal. Docking the Fitbit will sync it for you, or being with 15 feet of the computer the dock is attached to will allow it to be wirelessly synced. You will not need to sync daily, it will store previous data, so if you happen to forget for a day or two the data won't be lost.

Fitbit Badges

In addition to tracking your sleep and activity level, various achievements and badges can be unlocked which helps create some motivation. For traveling over 10,000 steps in a day you can unlock a badge, and climbing 10 levels in a day gets you another. While this may not appeal to everyone, this feature is definitely one that can help keep you motivated and wanting to achieve more.

The battery life of this unit is very impressive, you can easily get at least a week on a single charge. This is important because to charge it you need to have it on the dock, and if it is on the dock it isn't on you, therefor not counting your movements.

So is the Fitbit for you? Well there isn't a simple yes or no answer for this one. The Fitbit is a great fitness accessory, but this will require you to remember to use it daily, and to hold yourself accountable to trying to do better than the day before. If you are serious about your health, and need a little extra boost to help you achieve your results, this is a great addition for you.

 

Reader comments

Fitbit Review

7 Comments

Love the device - but it has a horribly-designed belt clip that let's the FitBit slip out. I have lost 3 of then this way. Sometimes you notice when they pop out, sometimes you don't. The final straw was when I used it last year to record my steps during a trip to Japan and I lost 2 weeks of step data one day before traveling back. I was really looking forward to this info when returning home and uploading. The manufacturer actually offered to replace it but I could not take the design flaw any more and turned them down.

If you are going to use this, do yourself a favor and throw away that black plastic belt clip. Or better yet, destroy it so you are not tempted to use it. Keep the FitBit in your pocket or clip the device directly to your clothing. It is a great way to monitor your activity level and can do a lot of good.

I feel your pain. I lost my first one on a Trip to Vegas because it popped out of the belt holster. Now, I put it in my change pocket on my jeans. It's just as accurate and there's no way to lose it.

I realize that you can't always wear jeans, but I do a majority of the time and this is the best solution I could find. When I wear something else, like shorts, I just put it in my front pocket. Still counts steps accurately and pretty hard to lose it that way.

I did this at work a few weeks ago at work, many people would be surprised by how much they walk. I knew i walked quite a few miles, but the total ended up being 14 miles, i was thinking more like 7-8. Sounds about right though, im basically on the move the entire day and dont take much of a break, and if i do i dont usually sit down, so if you figure the average walking speed x8+ hours thats about right, not to mention i do a lot of running durring that time as well.

I have purchased this item and expect to arrive this week. I have a problem in my knee after an operation and now I have to reinforce my quadriceps! I have some exercise I can do or I can walk... with this device I will be able to monitor how much I am walking since during work I move a lot, i hardly sit on my desk.

very hopeful that this will help me :)

This thing is a part of everyday life for me. Strict diet and my fitbit and I'm down 35 pounds since December 2011. It's not a solution to weight loss, but it is a great tool.

One thing I would suggest is to check your distances because it had me at over 5 miles for one walk when I know it was roughly 4. It estimates your stride based on your height so it's not always accurate. You can adjust the stride distance in your profile. I used http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ to compare it to what the unit says so I could set the stride length. It's certainly not 100% accurate but close enough. Other than that I love the thing, provides that extra little motivation I need on some days.

I got this when I was diagnosed with diabetes. It not mentioned in the article, but you can track all kinds of things in the same database on the website. Whenever I take a glucose reading, I log it here. (along with my blood pressure and everything I eat). The data is exportable and my Dr. LOVED the information I was able to provide him.

I have the same misgivings as Jared, and have forgotten to move from one pair of clothes to another occasionally. Luckily since my exercise routine is static I was able to manually enter the data based on previous days.

I love mine (and suspected as much about the belt clip (see above comments) and never used it.)