Have you gotten a fitness tracker to motivate you to walk more? If you don’t have a fitbit or other fitness tracker for counting your steps, it is not a bad idea to try one, it’s good for your health.
It is no secret that sitting too much and a lack of activity can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, neck & back strain, hip problems and more. The recommended 10,000 steps first started in Japan to help sell pedometers. Now, the American Heart Association recommends using this as a guideline to help stay healthy by increasing your fitness and lowering health risks like heart disease.
Walking is free, no special equipment is required and you can do it almost anywhere. No special clothes are really necessary just a decent pair of walking shoes or sneakers for longer walks. Weather doesn’t have to be a problem; in the winter months we walk at our nearby mall. Once the weather is warmer and the days are longer we are often able to fit in two walks a day. This post will help you get started with your new tracker and teach you a little about the features of your fitness tracker. Although I am specifically writing about fitbit, much of the information should apply to any tracker you are using.
Choosing a Tracker
My reasons for choosing my tracker were first size (nothing too big), cost (medium) and if I am going to wear something on my wrist all day, it should have a clock. Years ago, I started with the Fitbit Flex and was very happy with it. When I realized that I liked wearing a tracker and that it really did motivate me to move more, I decided to upgrade to the Fitbit Charge so that I could have the watch available. My fitbit is small and comfortable and since I used to wear a watch, it is not bothersome at all. There are several designs and sizes for many of the trackers. Fitbit has about eight different products including some clip on trackers that are not worn on the wrist. Charging my Fitbit is only needed about once per week and it recharges quickly in about an hour, which is very convenient for me. Several friends have left their trackers charging at home while they went out on epic walks and missed all those great steps. For this reason, I make a point to charge my fitbit in the evening before bed, I would hate to miss a great day of steps!
Getting Started with your new Tracker
Setting up your new Fitbit is easy and is completed in just a few minutes. You can add the Fitbit app to your smartphone or you can access your dashboard through the web. I use both depending on what info I’m looking for. On the app, I can see all my progress and stats for each day, I can change goals and I can customize my dashboard. On the web, there is even more information including weekly reports and badges earned. One of my favorite features is the email I get each Tuesday with my weekly report, I find this informative and motivational. I like that it gives me my step average for that week. If I have a day or two that are less active, it doesn’t always matter because of how active I was the rest of the days. I like to try to keep my step average over 9,000 per day knowing that I am not able to walk as much during the week.
The preset on your new Fitbit is set at 10,000 steps and as soon as you hit it, your wrist will feel a triumphant buzz, bzzz, bzzz. This is your reward for a walking job well done. When I hit my 10,000 steps, it totally makes my day at least as far as fitness and a healthy level of activity is concerned! There are many preset goals programmed into your Fitbit for steps, distance, active minutes and more. You may want to change these settings in your tracker to fit your personal needs. More about goal setting will be in an upcoming post, check back for that one.
Steps, Distance, Active Minutes
Fitbit doesn’t just tell your steps and how many miles walked, it will also tell you how many active minutes you have had at a brisk walking pace. It will track how many floors you have climbed and can log your exercise if you choose.
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Calories & Weight Loss
Fitbit will track your calories burned as you walk all day. You can see the number increase after you do some more vigorous walking or exercise. You can also track calories eaten and calories left to eat if you add these stats to your dashboard. In addition, you can track water intake and weight loss. When you choose to track calories, water intake or weight, you input the daily information and the app keeps the log for you. It is very motivational when you can update your app after you stepped on the scale in the morning and found a lower number!
Fitbit is also a sleep tracker, and will let you know how long you slept and how many times you were awake and restless. I know when it seems like I have had a bad nights and then I can see how many times I was tossing and turning. I also know that way too often my cat wakes me up in the middle of the night to go out. I can see the proof by my 51 steps at 3:15am and I know that wasn’t from tossing and turning!
Badges & Motivation
There are lots of great badges and motivations built into the app and email, website page. More about that in part two of this series.
Friends/ Social aspects
There is also a tab on the app to add your friends to your dashboard for some healthy competition. You can also stay motivated by trying one of the challenges like Workweek Hustle or Weekend Warrior. More about the social aspects of Fitbit in part two.
How about you? Did you already start using a fitness tracker? Please share your experiences and expertise with our readers.