Every Step I Take

Thanks to the release of a waterproof Fitbit (the Flex 2) this month, I’ve joined the millions of people who are tracking their activity through wearables.


At the time of this post, I’ve had the thing not even four days. I’m still getting used to it, but let’s talk about my first impressions.

Maybe it’s because I read The Circle last month, but there is something slightly creepy about having a device track my every movement 24/7. I know what Fitbit says about privacy, but the whole tracking thing takes some getting used to. As will wearing the thing all the time.

sleepAnyway, I can wear my Flex 2 24/7 because it offers automatic sleep monitoring and it’s waterproof. You can even track swimming with it, although I’ve yet to try that out.

The sleep monitoring fascinates me. It shows when you’re restless and when you’re awake in the middle of the night. If you nap for over an hour, it’ll track that sleep, too. Now I have an accurate look at when someone (who shall remain nameless) was snoring enough to wake me up.

img_7318I think what most people know about Fitbit is that it tracks your steps. It suggests a daily goal of 10,000 steps, which I managed to achieve on my first Monday with it on. Go, me! You can set reminders to help you get 250 steps an hour during whatever time range you want.

I’m torn about this feature. Sometimes I’m in meetings over the course of several hours so I don’t get to count steps. On the other hand, it’s nice to get a reminder (in the form of a vibration on my wrist) to step away from my desk. I did realize I can game this but getting up to walk around a couple minutes before the hour and getting 500 steps in to cover the hour goals for two hours. I’m trying not to do this, but sometimes I want that red dot.

Right now, I’m syncing the Flex to the iOS Fitbit app and checking my stats pretty often. Possibly too often. I figure this will lessen as Fitbit becomes more a part of my life than a novelty. I hope. Please tell me this will happen.

The Flex 2 also tracks exercise and active minutes. It considers movement for over ten minutes (you can set it higher) as exercise. My Monday stats look impressive and include two exercise periods. Granted, one of those was mowing the yard, but it counts.

Even if Fitbit thought I was biking outdoors instead of mowing. So far of the three exercise periods Fitbit has tracked for me, it’s miscategorized two. It thought my mowing was biking and thought a vigorous walk was time on the elliptical. Fitbit lets you change the name of the exercise, but I don’t know how steps/miles/etc. would be different if Fitbit had gotten it right. I can understand the biking for mowing: my hands on the mower could have been counted as hands on a bike. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised it tracked that at all. But the elliptical instead of a walk confused me. I disabled autodetection of ellipticals and outdoor biking so I’ll see what happens next time.

I get that simply counting steps, even if I hit 10K each day, does not automatically mean an improvement in health. But I’m looking forward to having some visual measurement of how my fitness goals are being met.

So if you’re part of the Fitbit family, look me up. Let’s challenge each other to 50,000 steps in a week or some other fun challenge.




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