Thursday 27 April 2017

Keeping fit with a Fitbit

Last October for my birthday I got a Fitbit. I have the Fitbit Charge 2 (affiliate link) which has a large display and heart rate tracker. It is quite bit on my wrist which I found a bit difficult to get used to at first, but having been wearing it for six months now I'm used to it. One thing that I really like about it compared to the not-very-reliable Garmin activity tracker that I had before is how responsive the screen is when I raise my wrist - it turns on straight away so that I can see the time and daily steps.

Fitbit on my wrist

When I first got my Fitbit I set my daily target to 10,000 steps as was recommended. But I'm afraid that I didn't take it very seriously, and I didn't challenge myself to reach it every day. Some days when I went for a run I would go over, but many days I was around the 5-6000 steps mark which didn't feel like much of an achievement. My lowest step count in a day was just 409 steps - although to be fair that was Christmas day when I barely moved from the sofa!

So in January I made a resolution to complete my 10,000 steps every day. I discovered that in order to hit that magic number I had to do at least one extra activity, whether that was a run or a long walk. At the beginning of February I wrote about how I was managing my 10,000 steps, and at the beginning of March I upped my target to 11,000 steps. Nearly two months on I'm not finding that any more difficult, and so I'm thinking about increasing it again to 11,500 or even 12,000.

I've discovered a good trick for bumping up my step count when I can't leave the house, whether due to inclement weather or childcare responsibilities. We are lucky that the ground floor of our house is quite spacious, and if I open all the internal doors I can just march around the house in circles. Even better, I can do this while I'm reading a book at the same time. I can easily knock out a 30 or 40 minute walk, and although I must admit that I feel a little bit dizzy when I'm finished it's an easy and quick way to get to my target! It feels a bit like cheating, but it gets my heart rate up and it definitely counts!

I'm also enjoying some friendly competition with friends and family members. I rarely talk to them about it so they have no idea, but I feel a sense of smug satisfaction when I'm top of the leader board, as well as admiration for those that are achieving above my targets. I've not taken part in any challenges yet but I've heard that they can be very good for motivation, I'm just worried I'd get a bit obsessive about it! I do really love getting the badges, my best so far is 20,000 steps, but I'm sure I can do better than that!

Fitbit badges screen

One thing that I've noticed about the Fitbit is that it particularly loves stairs. Even on days when I've been for a run and am feeling knackered I don't always meet my calorie target. But if I've been going up and down the stairs a lot, for example on days when I've been busy doing washing and putting it away, or just general tidying, I easily burn more calories.

Talking of calories, the Fitbit has really made me appreciate how few calories I actually need to eat. According to my Fitbit, which seems accurate, I'm usually burning around 1,900 calories over the course of the day. When you think that a takeaway pizza 12-1,500 calories you realise that treats like that will definitely add up quickly! I'm not regularly using the calorie counter as an aid to weight loss, but I've found that when I am tracking calories, which I do from time to time, having the daily exercise definitely helps with the weight loss.

I'd love to hear how other people get on with their Fitbits or other activity trackers - how many steps do you aim for in a day?

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