Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Cold Hard Truth I Learned From Fitbit

Whenever I visit a new doctor for the first time, I check the "moderately active" box on the questionnaire. While I run and workout at the gym 5 - 6 days per week, I also spend most of my day sitting - at my desk typing away on a computer, in meetings, commuting, or plopped in front of the TV after a long day. So I generally like to think of myself as "moderately active."

Then, I bought a Fitbit.

A primary reason why I purchased the Fitbit Charge just before the new year was to track my steps. When we lived in New York I walked all the time. It was second nature and necessary. Walking was a constant part of life. I'm fairly confident that during the nine years I lived there, I spent much more time walking than the average person on the vast majority of days. I basically made it my mission to see how much of my normal day I could spend walking. But life has changed a lot since moving to Denver. Much for the good, but one thing I don't do enough of anymore is walk. It's very easy for me now, especially during the colder months, to spend very little time on my feet.

We've all heard about the golden number - 10,000. The minimum number of steps (approximately 5 miles) we should take each day, according to the American Heart Association and other health organizations, to improve our health and decrease our risk of heart disease - a top killer among women and men. We also need that 30 minutes of activity most days of the week to optimize health. 

Now with Fitbit, I can see in big numbers and bar charts, the cold hard truth. This is what last week looked like:
I think you can see what happened. Tuesday and Friday? Dismal failures. These were my rest days. In other words, if I'm not cranking out 30 or more minutes of exercise, I'm not hitting the minimum 10,000 steps per day. I really need to step it up. 

To start, I'm adding mandatory walks - even a quick one to the market or coffeehouse near my office - during the work day. I've also started using my "standing desk" again, after getting lazy over the holidays - while a standing desk doesn't equal steps, it's still much better than sitting all day. And lastly, rather than using the restroom on our floor of the office building, I'm heading upstairs. Small changes, but helpful ones.

Clearly, I'm not doing a horrible job at hitting 10,000 steps, but I could greatly benefit from improving my habits on my rest days. 

As I'm still learning the ins and outs of my Fitbit Charge - what it has to offer and its quirks (be sure, there definitely are some) - I'll be sharing my thoughts on the wearable tracker soon.

For now though, it's time for me to get off my bum and start moving!


Lisa said...

Wow, so interesting! I have been wanting to get one but I'm not sure I would wear it consistently I would wear it. But then again, I wear a watch every day so I would just add to my stack!

Lisa said...

I have a Fit Bit, and it's definitely interesting to see how my step numbers change on a work day (I easily hit 10,000 steps from walking to work and then being on my feet all day as a nurse!) versus a running day (hello, easy 10,000 steps) versus a rest day (er.....not so many steps). Also, it's amazing how many steps I take simply running errands, and I notice I take significantly less steps when I'm somewhere outside NYC - cars mean less walking! I do get restless when I travel sometimes and have to add in a walk.

Lisa said...

I think we all think that we're more active than we really are. While you and I, any many of us who read your blog, are generally more active than the average American...i think many of us un-do the hour of running or working out by the 8-10 hours we sit at a desk. It's scary!

I'm always baffled when I have to answer those questionnaires too. i always want to check "active" - it's a rude awakening to have to click sedentary when I sit all day.

Lisa said...

It is really scary. I'm glad people are talking about it now though - and this is something the media has decided to latch onto. It's important for people to understand how their habits and lifestyle are affecting their health!

Lisa said...

Yes! If you get a Fitbit - or any type of pedometer - and see how many steps you take on an average day, let me know! I'd be so interested to hear. I do imagine nurses rack up a LOT of steps!

Lisa said...

There really is a huge difference between city and suburb living. I wish there were ways to better integrate walking into a suburban lifestyle. We live in the "city" now but it's still a very different lifestyle than being downtown - but we're trying to be much more conscious about our choices, when we chose to drive and when we walk or bike instead.

Lisa said...

One of the main reasons why I chose the Fitbit Charge is because I liked the design. I knew that if I didn't, I wouldn't wear it often enough to make it worth the money or effort. Fitbit also has smaller devices that are more akin to traditional pedometers that can be attached to clothing so they can be a bit more hidden. I do think it's worth checking out the options; there are so many now!

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