Does the Fitbit Really Work?
Update: January 12, 2014
Fitbit One vs. Fitbit Force – Why I Chose the Fitbit One
After a couple of years of use, my Fitbit finally broke, with a little help from my kid. It didn’t stop recording steps, but the casing cracked when my son tried to pry it apart, making it impossible to wear.
I was secretly happy, as I’d been eyeing the more recent Fitbit gadgets. I did considerable research comparing the Fitbit Flex, the Fitbit Force, the Fitbit One, and the Fitbit Zip. I chose the Fitbit One, and I’ll explain why:
The Fitbit One, like the original Fitbit, clips to your belt or bra. It tracks steps and distance, along with number of floors climbed (handy if you have stairs at home or at work and you want to be reminded to use them), calories burned, general activity level, and sleep patterns. It wirelessly syncs to your Mac or PC. And it also shows the time and will even wake you in the morning with a silent alarm. The online interface is better than ever, and the new itty-bitty syncing doc is much more convenient than the syncing hardware that went with the original Fitbit ultra. Now, you can easily keep the doc plugged into your Mac or PC at all times.
The Fitbit Force tracks all the same stuff as the One, with the added benefit of goal setting, and you wear it on your wrist like a watch. After reading a bunch of online reviews, I came to the conclusion that the Force is probably less accurate than the One because of its placement. With the Force, you run the risk of getting a higher than accurate reading on steps. For example, if I were wearing the Force right now, instead of the One, I might get steps for typing, or even for lifting my coffee cup to my mouth. Because accuracy is the most important thing to me, I chose the One, which, happily, is only $99.95 (as opposed to $129.95 for the Force).
However, if it’s important to you to have access to the readings at all times without sticking your hand down the front of your shirt, I’d recommend the Force, and accept that it may be giving your credit for a few steps you didn’t actually take.
The Fitbit Flex, which, like the Fitbit One, is priced at $99.95, tracks steps and sleep, but does not track floors climbed. It also doesn’t have a watch, and the display is, in my opinion, not very helpful. It uses dots, rather than numbers, so in order to know how many steps you’ve taken, you have to check your stats online. I think that of all the products in the Fitbit line, the Flex is the one that I wouldn’t recommend at all. If you want to go with a wristband, shell out the extra $29 to get a much better user experience.
Bargain option: The Fitbit Zip
If you’re looking for the least expensive option, the Fitbit Zip is a bargain at $59.95. It’s the cutest of the fitbits by far, and, like the One, it clips to your belt or bra. The big downside of the Zip is that it doesn’t track your sleep. Since sleep tracking is one of my favorite functions in the fitbit line (for example, I noticed that when I took prescription cough medicine after a bout with bronchitis, I slept WAY more than any other night), the Zip was a no-go for me.
Does the Fitbit Really Work? (Original post)
While looking for a pedometer, I came across the Fitbit. More sophisticated than your typical pedometer, the Fitbit, which you even wear while sleeping, is designed to measure your daily physical activity as well as the length and quality of your sleep. Does the Fitbit wireless trainer live up to the manufacturer’s claims?
Now that I’ve had a few weeks to use the fitbit, I’ll share my own thoughts, which are overwhelmingly positive. Update, June 30, 2012: I wrote this post in June of 2011. One year later, I’m still wearing the Fitbit daily, and it’s still going strong!
What I love:
- Simple to set up
- easily readable display
- tracks how long and how well you sleep!
- battery lasts forever
- Keeps track of the number of steps you’ve taken
- Keeps track of the number of calories you’ve burned
- Every time you walk by the base, your latest steps are downloaded to the website
- Attractive, cleanly designed website which allows you to log your food, and shows calories burned vs. calories consumed. The food tracker also lists the percentage of your calories that come from protein, carbs, & fat
- It’s priced below cringe factor at the psychologically magic number of $99.95
- Does way more than a traditional pedometer
What I don’t love:
- It’s so tiny, it’s easy to lose. (Tiny: good. Losing: bad) It needs some sort of tracker, like those keys you can find by clapping.
- The base, just a tiny stand with a cord, must be plugged into your computer in order to download information, and I sometimes lose the base when I move my laptop around.
The Fitbit and Sleep
Personally, I think it’s fascinating to know just how much I’m really sleeping, not to mention how little I’m really moving. Cool, easy-to-read graphics on the website show you how many times you tossed and turned in the middle of the night, and how much time you spent in deep sleep.
The Fitbit and Weight Loss
I exercise almost daily, but when I’m not on the treadmill or doing ill-advised moves with the kettlebell, I’m generally sitting in front of my computer, writing, the ultimate in sedentary occupations. If anything, the fitbit has inspired me to walk around the block and down to the pool while plotting my new novel.
THE VERDICT: No false advertising there. The Fitbit Wireless Tracker really is a genius little product, and now I have it on me at all times. Appendage, anyone? Highly recommended for anyone trying to lose weight or for fitness fanatics who take their gadgetry as seriously as their kickboxing routine.
TMore Great Products for Fitness Freaks
- Amazing Grass. Yes, it is weird to drink your greens. I totally agree. And yet, I’m a sucker for this Chocolate Green Superfood drink mix by San Francisco based company Amazing Grass. I mix it with a banana and some frozen blueberries in the morning, and it’s yummy, and I swear it gives me energy. Also really good for your skin–gives you that nice afterglow look. Seriously.
- Under-desk elliptical trainer: Does your work require you to spend hours a day sitting? If so, check out this great little under-desk elliptical trainer by Stamina. At under $90, it’s a great way to combat the shortened life span and clogged arteries that are pretty much guaranteed by too much sitting. See this New York Times article by James Vlahos, “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?” Spoiler: Oh yes, studies show that sitting all day can shave years off your life, even if you exercise regularly.
- SteriShoe Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer: Do you frequently wear running or exercise shoes? You might also like SteriShoe Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer. Great for eliminating the bad stuff in your sneakers that leads to the f-word.