10,000 steps a day‚Ķlet the Fitbit be your guide!
Monday, December 17, 2012
LifeTime WeightLoss in Activity, Exercise, Julie Brown, Movement, Social Support

Every day we have the opportunity to move our bodies purposefully, with the intent to exercise. Often it is thought that the ideal is to exercise at least 5 days each week for no less than 30 minutes, but this doesn’t always happen as planned. Our lives are hectic and crazy, with unplanned ups and downs that pull us out of our planned routine and away from our workouts on what seems like a regular basis. With this in mind, it’s important to always have a backup plan to keep yourself as active as possible. I often find myself encouraging the people I meet to simply look for ways to move more. For years I have been encouraging people to wear a pedometer and track their steps each and every day. Fortunately I’m not the only one who feels that moving more each day is beneficial.

Why use a pedometer?

The idea of using a pedometer is not a new one. The “10,000 steps per day” slogan has been around for decades and continues to be tossed around as a measure to improve physical activity among adults. The theory of 10,000 steps per day began as a goal for Japanese citizens in the 1960’s and has morphed into an ideal goal for movement each day around the world.1 Using step-counting to measure daily activity has been extensively researched, and the consensus on daily movement patterns for healthy adults has been defined as follows1:

It’s easy to see that 10,000 steps per day is the ideal for an active lifestyle, but how can you accurately track your movement? Many pedometers are inaccurate and are a burden to wear throughout the day. With that in mind, Life Time decided to look into ways to help our members move more each and every day with the use of the Fitbit!

Why the Fitbit?

I first heard about the Fitbit about a year ago from one of my fellow Life Time Trainers, who wore one herself and often encouraged her clients to invest in a Fitbit for the purpose of tracking their daily physical activity. This magical (and by magical I mean tiny, functional, and wireless) device works much like a pedometer to track your daily steps, but it also does so much more! I think the creators of the Fitbit describe it best on their website:

“Fitbit is dedicated to helping people lead healthier, more active lives. We take a common sense approach to fitness, and believe that the key is to make it easier for consumers to be more active, eat smarter, and get enough sleep — in short, that small changes to your daily routine can add up to big results.”2

In addition to tracking your daily step count, the Fitbit also tracks the number of flights of stairs you climb daily, the number of miles you have walked, and the approximate number of calories you’ve burned throughout the day (factoring in metabolic rate based on your age, gender, and weight). The Fitbit also shows you your recent activity level through the growth of a flower on your Fitbit screen. It even provides you with a clock, so you never lose track of time. 

Needless to say, as soon as I heard that Life Time was going to begin carrying the Fitbit, I knew there was no more messing around: I had to have one! I move a lot throughout my days at Life Time, and I had often found myself wondering just how much I was moving around my massive place of work. I also wondered how many times I climbed the stairs to the fitness floor each and every day (since I run down to the copy machine after every appointment that I have I knew those flights of stairs would have to add up). I bought a Fitbit the first day we had them in the club and I’ve been wearing it ever since! I’ve been enjoying all of the great features of the Fitbit and would like to share them with you now:

Pros

The Fitbit motivates you! The consistent feedback on your daily progress encourages you to keep moving towards your daily goal of 10,000 steps. Each time you pick up your Fitbit, it lights up with fun phrases, such as “You Rock,” “Walk Me,” and “Love Ya.” It keeps you moving towards gaining new badges, including floors climbed, miles walked, and steps accumulated in a single day. There are few greater assets than accountability and support when you are trying to solidify your healthy way of life, and the Fitbit provides both!

The Fitbit dashboard. The online portal allows you to login and track nearly every aspect of your physical activity, food intake, and sleep patterns. The wireless upload is simplistic! Simply placing the Fitbit in a stationary position within 15 feet of the Fitbit base (while plugged into your computer’s USB drive) will update the dashboard. The dashboard displays the badges you’ve earned to track your progress. And your Fitbit will even send you e-mails. I recently received an e-mail congratulating me on covering my first 50 miles! You can see your dashboard on your smart phone and tablet device too, with the help of the Fitbit application, which syncs to www.fitbit.com when you login.

Tracking your sleep patterns. While the Fitbit does not provide as much detail about your sleep pattern as the Zeo, you will be able to see how much time you spend in bed, how much you are “asleep,” and how often you awaken throughout the night. The sleep graph on your dashboard provides a visual representation of your sleep pattern. You will even be provided with a nightly sleep efficiency score.

The long battery life & quick charge. The Fitbit can easily last an entire week on a single charge. Recharging the Fitbit only takes about an hour! It’s easily recharged while you are reading or watching your favorite tv show.

Cons

Not all Fitbit models are waterproof. Be sure to remove the Fitbit from you clothing before washing, as the Fitbit does not know how to swim. (One of my clients learned this the hard way.) It may also be said that heavy sweating could also prove to be problematic for the Fitbit. Be sure to wear the Fitbit in a safe location while working out to ensure it will continue to function.

It’s addictive! Obviously this isn’t really a con, but the Fitbit can become mildly distracting. I’ve found myself checking my Fitbit dozens of times each day. The feedback makes me want to move more and tracking my daily movement against those who are also in the Life Time Fitbit group (add link) pushes me to find new ways to add steps to my day.

Sometimes we must ask ourselves if we are moving too little? We have previously explored the idea Sitting Yourself to Death, as many Americas simply do not move enough. Researchers have found that people who wear pedometers, move 27% more than people who do not, averaging 2,200-2,500 steps more each day.3 Perhaps arming more people with pedometers could be the answer?

In tracking my steps, I learned that I don’t move as much on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I do on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I also have to work a bit harder on the weekends to get my 10,000 steps in. Wearing my Fitbit has had a profound impact on how much I move each day. As a result of my movement patterns, I’ve had to look for additional ways to add steps to several days each week. Here are some simple ideas we can all use to add more steps to our days:

Look for ways to move your body more each day! A body in motion is much more likely to be a healthy body! Interested in tracking your daily activity with a Fitbit? Stop by the Personal Training desk at your local Life Time and chat with one of our Trainers about getting your Fitbit today (if we are offering this online, add info and link here).  Already have a Fitbit? Join the Life Time Fitbit group. Get moving more today!

By Julie Brown - Life Time Nutrition and Weight Loss Coach

References:

  1. Tudor-Locke, Catrine, Hatano Yoshiro, Pangrazi, Robert P., & Kang, Minsoo. Revisiting “How many steps are enough?” Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2008;40,7S, S537–S543. 
     
  2. www.fitbit.com

  3. Bravata, Dena M., Smith-Spangler, Crystal, et al. Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health. Journ Am. Med. Assoc. 2007;298(19):2296-2304.
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