Why I Use A Fitbit Activity Tracker & Fitbit Sleep Monitor

Fitbit Activity Tracker & Fitbit Sleep Monitor

Of all the gadgets and devices I bought over the last few years, Fitbit stands out.
This relatively small investment (I bought my first Fitbit at the beginning of 2012) has proven invaluable in the sense of changes it has brought about.

For the first time in my life, I was able to monitor, record and analyze data 24/7 about my physical activities.

At the beginning of 2012, I participated in a 30-day challenge to become more active.
My goals were to walk 10.000 steps each day for that whole period.
The idea behind this challenge was that if you succeed in doing something regularly for a given set of time (say 30 days), you will have installed a new habit.

Well, I finished the challenge successfully and have been recording, monitoring and analyzing my fitness data ever since.
This analyzing may sound labor intensive, but it isn’t.
The Fitbit app and website application do that all for you.
[By the way, there is a good free option to help you to track your data etcetera. But you can also choose the paid option Fitbit Premium to be your 24/7 digital coach. This is an option I use. It isn’t, however, necessary to use the devices and to achieve results]

When I look at my data, I notice an increase in weight and decrease in activity in periods when I am stressed out

This is not something that I strive to achieve.
But in life, you can’t plan everything. 😉
Anyway, being aware what happens in your life and how it affects your health is, in my opinion, important.
It helps me adjust and motivates me to get going again.
I am “powered” by my second Fitbit now.
And I am 100% sure it won’t be my last.

The History Of Fitbit Activity Trackers & Fitbit Sleep Monitoring Devices

Electronic activity/fitness trackers are improved versions of pedometers.
The term activity or fitness tracker refers mainly to portable devices that monitor and record a person’s physical activity such as the distance walked or run, calories burned, heart rate and in some cases the duration and quality of sleep.

The term is now used mainly for special portable electronic control devices that are synchronized, in many instances wirelessly to a PC or smartphone for long-term tracking data.
The technological improvements have now made it possible to automate the recording and monitoring of these activities and to process them automatically.
An early example of this technology were the wearable heart rate monitors available from 1981 onwards for athletes.

A large part of the attractiveness of the activity trackers that make them effective in increasing people’s personal fitness comes from turning it into a game.
The social dimension of sharing via social media and the resulting rivalry arising from that keeps many motivated.

Fitbit Inc, a San Francisco company, is one of the important players manufacturing activity trackers.
You could wear early versions (2008) like the original Fitbit clipped to the waist.
The format has since diversified to wristbands and even smaller devices.
The trackers use a three-dimensional accelerometer to sense user action.

Why Would You Want To Track Your Activities?

Why do people buy fitness and health gadgets?
A vast majority give the motivation to train as a reason, but also the ability to monitor the results of sports or exercise, as well as the ability to track how much you move daily.

I have used a Fitbit since early 2012, and I have noticed that it is a fun and easy way to gain insight into how active you are.

In the course of the day, just look at how many steps you’ve taken and how many floors you have climbed.
The Fitbit counts steps.
But, for example, if you cycle, it also counts steps, while it is a different kind of effort.
For a perfectionist that can be frustrating, but the numbers do paint a good picture of your activity.
Through your Fitbit account, you can get access to a lot of statistics.

  • You can see how many steps you’ve put in, for example, a week and a month, but it goes even further.
  • The Fitbit records how active you are, and the time you have been so.
  • You can retrieve what percentage of your day you have been ‘very active’ or if you are just sitting still.
  • It helps you set daily goals, earn badges, keep a list of your friends, etc.
  • You can also register additional activities (for example if you went swimming), keep track of what you eat and enter your weight.

This allows you to keep a complete profile of yourself.

The Sleep Tracker works especially well.

You put the tracker on your wrist, press and hold the button, and in the morning you press it again.
You get a reading of how much you slept and how often you were awake.
My Fitbit has a vibrating alarm.
This can be set via the app.
At the desired wake up time, the device vibrates in, for instance, the band around your wrist.
This will wake you up without anyone noticing.
By pressing the button of the device, you turn it off.
A snooze function is missing.
But I don’t mind that.

Why Would You Want To Track Your Sleep?

Not everyone has the same sleep rhythm.
How long and when you sleep, varies per person.
Your biological clock might be set different from that of a DJ.
If you often sleep late and you stand up somewhere in the afternoon?
Then your biological “clock” won’t go off at seven o’clock.
Many people who start their first job have to get used to getting up early.
Slowly changing their biological clock.
Your biological clock only gets upset when you sleep at different times every day.

Having enough sleep is fundamental to our functioning during the day.
An important indicator for measuring the effectiveness of sleep is to ask ourselves “if we feel rested.”
If you feel fit during the day, then your sleep is probably good enough.”
Also, the time between going to bed and falling asleep and the number of times a person wakes per night, are measures of sleep quality.

That a good night’s sleep is crucial, is especially evident when it is missing.

There are indications that a longer period of poor sleep increases the risk of depression, heart disease, and obesity.

Measuring the number of hours that you sleep and measuring the numbers you wake up is one of the things you can measure with an activity tracker.

Fitbit Statistics

Your Fitbit device or app can display several things. Including:

MonitorSteps:
These are the steps you take. It doesn’t matter if you are running or walking.
It isn’t 100% accurate because, for instance, it will also measure activity when you cycle.

Distance:
The distance is calculated from the steps you have taken.

Calories:
These are calculated taking into account your size and weight (which you can enter manually) and your activity.
It also takes into account your natural calorie consumption, because even in the case that you do not move your body metabolism consumes calories naturally

Sleep:
After finishing sleep, you see how many times you woke up and how effectively you have slept restlessly and how much of your sleep time you were asleep.

Very active minutes:
This calculates the time you have been very busy walking or running.

Earning badges:
You can earn badges by reaching milestones, e.g., at 5000 steps or 10000 or 15000 or the number of miles you walk.
You are thus “rewarded” for your efforts.Fitbit Activity Tracker

Fitbit Conclusion

I have been using a Fitbit Activity Tracker / Fitbit Sleep Tracker since 2012 and have been very happy with it.

Although I am a Fitbit user (and fan), I think it is a great thing that more companies are producing activity and fitness trackers.
The market for these devices is still growing.
And a healthy competition will benefit us all.
Health is too important to squander.

If you need some motivation to get busy, using an activity tracker might prove to be a great first step.

January 2017 Mid-January my wife received a Fitbit Charge HR, a wristband with all-day activity tracking, continuous wrist-based heart rate,  sleep monitoring, Caller ID and more.

My wife is using the Fitbit Charge HR too now.
It has more or less become a family thing now.
Who knows, maybe she’ll get just as excited about monitoring health-related stats as I am.
Monitoring each others number of steps taken and number of stairs climbed 😉