Activity trackers are the new “it” fitness gadget. In simplest terms it’s a fancy pedometer.
A few year’s ago Nike was the first out of the shoot with a pod that fit into a carved out hole under the insole of your shoe. It paired, I believe, with an iPod or iPhone. Next Nike came out with the fuel band. I didn’t see those for long.
In the past year or so, new products came on the market and viola, activity trackers started to trend upward. These bands measured sleep, steps and general activity with the idea that by providing these user-friendly items would motivate users to reach for and hit the “holy grail” of activity benchmarks; 10,000 steps.
10,000 steps translates to around 5 miles. Bear in mind, that’s a rough estimate. From studies I’ve read, the average American takes between 2,000 and 3, 000 steps. This is not good.
I have been a hold out on buying one of these items because I’m a pretty active person and figured I was getting at least 10,000 steps each day. However, I wanted to test out the product because a lot of people were buying them and I was starting to get questions about them; would the be helpful to them, were they worth it, did I see value. So, as a fitness professional and a curious gal by nature I did some research.
Fitbit has a cool tv commercial and I saw more of those products on people so I started there. Nix. I didn’t like the little dots indicating at what percentage I was at of my goal. I have 47 year old eyes and those dots are rough to see, besides, I need numbers. I also read that its’ battery didn’t hold charge for a very long time and required plugging in.
What I did like about the Fitbit was that it vibrated if you sat on your butt too long. That is a great feature! Fitbit does have a model that provides more detailed information at a glance as well as one that clips on to your clothes but I didn’t want to snap something to my shirt and maybe lose it when I went to the bathroom (I’ve dropped enough iPod shuffle clips into the toilet to know my limitations) and the more advanced models of the Fitbit were a bit pricey for my initial investment.
I dismissed Jawbone because I didn’t like the look of it at all. I’m a visual gal. Next.
Next, I researched the vivofit by Garmin. It had touch buttons to move from the various functions such as the time, date, steps walked, distance covered, calories burned, how many steps to your daily goal and it has an angry red bar that will pop up as a small red dash at the top when you’ve been sitting for an hour. The longer you sit the farther it crawls across the top of the screen. I call it the “Guilt Bar”. Nice. It had a good long battery life and as I’ve discussed a lot – I have a Garmin watch that I covet. Good company, product I liked already. Sold.
Well, actually, I gave my specs to Brad and asked him to get it for my for Christmas.
After I opened my present on Christmas morning, (have I mentioned what a great husband I have?) had another mimosa, I set about getting my vivofit ready. It was easy to turn on and I synced it to my computer and phone and entered my age, weight, height, activity level and normal sleep time. I put it on my wrist and watched the steps go by. What you learn quickly is that it’s not a step for step measurement. I think its’ technology tracks distance and translates it to steps.
In order to track your data you need to “sync” the product to their site by a little thumb-drive that is more the size of half a chiclet. You have to “pair” the device one time to activate it then sync daily, every few days or weekly. I tried for a week to sync my product. Apparently, the sales department at Garmin didn’t tell the tech department that they sold a boat load of these things over the holidays. The problem was resolved and I’ve not had problems since.
I strapped on my vivofit Christmas Day and haven’t removed it since. It is lightweight, doesn’t chafe or burn. I don’t have a rash from the wristband material and I forget I have it on most of the time.
Again, what I was curious most about were the following things:
- How much do I really move during the day?
- Did I find that this device motivated me to move more?
How much do I really move during the day?
Since December 25th, my average daily number of steps is 19,736. Apparently I move a lot.
My lowest day was 7.500 steps on Christmas Day and my highest day was 23.300 on December 30th.
Did I find the vivofit motivated me to move more?
Yes. Not surprisingly most of my daily steps comes from exercise. My goal has been to add steps on top of my exercises steps. If I get 10,000 on top of the 5,000 I have from class, that’s a good day. It doesn’t always work. I have a dead zone around 4pm where if I don’t move I can sit on the couch for too long. Seeing the “Guilt Bar” grow makes me think of my butt growing as I sit. I love a good visual. So it gets me up, more times than not.
Should you get one?
Yes: If you are just starting out with your fitness journey; have fitness or weight loss goals; need a shot of motivation to get you moving; are a tracking and report junkie; you sit for 6 or more hours a day.
Maybe Not: If you are currently active and exercise at least 4-5 days per week, consistently try to find ways to sneak activity (you park farther from the mall, you take the stairs, walk to lunch, walk on lunch), etc.
In a nutshell I’ve outlined some pros and cons of the vivofit.
Pros: Lightweight band, clear instructions, simple to use and great features for tracking progress. Syncing online you can find challenges and groups to compete against. Their website also provides very detailed tracking and reporting info. Good for motivation.
Cons: Only tracks movement. If you stand all day (which burns more calories than sitting) the product does not reflect this and you get the “Guilt Bar”. This bar can also be annoying if you get up to use the bathroom at 2am and when you wake up at 5am you have the “Guilt Bar” flashing at you. It also doesn’t reflect exercise as steps or activity where you don’t move from place to place (Yoga, Pilates, Spin class).
Overall, I’m happy with the vivofit and feel that it’s been a valuable tool for me and a quality product. I have to stop writing now. The “Guilt Bar” is halfway across the screen.
And, in case you’re curious, 7689 steps so far today.
Now go run!