Category Archives: fitness

The pros and cons of FitBits and other wearable fitness devices (plus my own thoughts)

Here’s two recent pieces on the pros and cons of wearable fitness devices.

Pro: Wearables and Self-Awareness (Personal) – NYTimes.com.

Con: Science Says FitBit Is a Joke | Mother Jones

I tend to agree with Krugman’s pro views in the NYTimes.  In a nutshell, Krugman’s view is that having a tracker like a FitBit makes it harder to lie to yourself about your fitness. A FitBit will let you know and help you track when you are active or sedentary, just like a scale will tell you when you are eating too much or too little.

The Mother Jones article has good points, too. FitBits have limits. They aren’t for all kinds or exercise, they may not be precise, and some apps on a smartphone can do just as good a job. That said, their title is a joke and their article is misleading. For example, trackers start at much lower than $100. As well, for people walking or running, carrying a smartphone is not always a good option. FitBits are more accurate than the article let’s on, and the readings that they provide is a reasonably close measure of your activity. The limits to wearable fitness devices are real, but Mother Jones overstate their case.

Do you or I need any of these devices? No. Based on my fitbit, I can walk a mile in about 2000 steps. If I were to sit down with a free service like Google maps, I could easily plot out a 5 mile walking route that, if I walked daily, would mean I would  hit at least 10,000 steps a day. (10,000 steps is my daily goal). Or I could just go for an hour walk and not worry about a route at all. (It takes me around that time to walk 5 miles if I walk it at a good pace.) Either way, a map or a watch can easily replace a wearable device. If you can’t afford or don’t want a wearable device, just use a map, a watch, and a log book, and you will get similar benefits.

Why I like my FitBit is that it does the work for me. I can walk anywhere I want, for as long as I want, and it will keep track of all that for me. Plus it keeps a ongoing record I can look up when I want. Finally, like Krugman noted, it prevents me from lying to myself about how active I am.

A wearable device is an aid, and like any aid, it helps you achieve your desired outcome. If you don’t need such an aid, don’t use it. As for me, the fitbit helps me meet my fitness goals and I am glad I have it.

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Are you a couch potato? Do you want to get in better shape? Then read what former couch potatoes did

I don’t think highly of lists that supposedly help you to get in shape. I am happy to make an exception for this one: 15 Former Couch Potatoes Share Their Best Tips For Getting In Shape.

It’s not so much a list as it is 15 different stories. Each person has a different approach to getting in shape. What worked for one person may not work for you, but there is a good chance that out of the 15 stories, there will be more than a few new ideas that you can steal and use.

I also liked that it is not a list of advice from people who were athletes or people who were in good shape already. The people on this list were out of shape, and they lost weight and became fit using the sensible approaches they took.

I don’t usually recommend Buzzfeed articles, but this one is a very good exception.

If getting in shape was one of your resolutions for the New Year, this is a good thing for you to read now.

One way to keep your fitness New Year resolutions? Use the Pact app. Here’s how it works

If you have made a commitment to getting fit in 2015, that’s good. If you think you can manage it, that’s better. But if you think you might have troubles with it, then consider the Pact app.

It works like this, according to Pact:

  1. Make a commitment – Make a weekly Pact to exercise more or eat healthier. Set what you’ll pay other Pact members if you don’t reach it.
  2. Meet Your Goals – Use the Pact app to track your progress.
  3. Reap the rewards – Earn real cash for living healthily, paid by the members who don’t!

For more info, see their site: Pact – Commit to you.

I have no idea how well it works, but it sounds interesting.