Can a device for your wrist really get you fit??

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It’s that time again. Ringing in the new year means making all kinds of promises to yourself that seem realistic at the time (especially while intoxicated!), but just as with any goal, also means a certain amount of ‘sticktoitness’ that seems to dissipate all too rapidly! My resolutions, along with most people’s, are to get in better shape and lose weight (stop yelling at my kids, get better organized, put those gazillions of digital photos into family albums, be more patient in general, and figure out my next professional hobby)…But I digress!

While Christmas shopping on a recent trip to an Apple store here in London, I picked up a Jawbone Up to help track my activity and sleep. What it tracks regarding activity is the number of steps you take throughout the day and based on your height and weight, turns them into the number of calories you burn in both active and resting states. I found it was surprisingly accurate in tracking my activity as the amount of time I had been actively active (running or on the Crossover machine) was spot on. It can’t discern the intensity of a workout though so it didn’t know that while in South Africa on holiday, I spent portions of my runs slogging it up steep hills. Still, if the calories burned were accurate, I was happy!

The sleep tracker is also a cool concept. You have to tell the device when you go to sleep by setting it and then let it know when you wake up. It can determine your sleep cycles- REM and light- and then alerts you as to what would be optimal. We all know getting eight hours of sleep is preferred, but if you’re like me, you wake up at least twice to pee and have disruptive sleeps probably thanks to getting older! (I’ve been given the advice that if you avoid eating meat or other heavy proteins at night that you’ll sleep better because your digestive system is less active and more calm. Actually works for me, but I can’t resist a good steak or my husband’s grilled chicken!)

I recently switched from the Up to a Fitbit Flex for a couple of reasons: you can connect to the Flex’s app via Bluetooth vs. wifi so that you can track your progress throughout the day by simply opening the app on your phone (while on holiday I could only sync in the morning and the end of the day with the Up so tracking progress throughout the day was impossible). I also like the style of the Fitbit Flex more than the Up. The Up band tended to get snagged on clothing and I was in between two sizes so opted for the M, which was a little loose. The Flex fits comfortably around my wrist and I hardly notice it while pulling on sweaters or jackets. But you could opt for either and I’m sure be happy with your choice.

But the real question is what will I do with all this information from the Flex band regarding the number of steps I take throughout the day, the quality of sleep I’m getting, calories consumed (if I track my diet), water intake (great for me since I’ve had kidney stones), and do I really need to track weight loss on a device (I gained back that weight I lost detoxing and more on holiday!)? Calories burned is really what motivates me and will help me lose weight…

Here’s what I think: if you’re a gadgets person who likes fiddling with cool and colorful apps and if tracking your fitness goals by numbers (the numbers being estimates based on algorithms) keeps you in check, plus you’re a competitive person (you can follow your friends’ progress as well as try to beat your own daily goal), then I’d say you’re the target audience for a fit band! For me, my Flex is like having a personal trainer on my wrist that if I choose to ignore, I only have myself to blame. It’s also a constant reminder of my new year’s resolutions of getting more in shape and of course, trying to get rid of those nagging lb’s (when will I just let the weight thing go??!). Please feel free to comment!

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