For Christmas our son gave me a Fitbit.  When I worked as a wellness director it was de rigueur for many of my colleagues to wear one.  I never did.  I have always been a proponent of including exercise into my daily routine and at the time, didn't think it was necessary, 

Well, I must say using it has been insightful and  a lot of fun.  I can see the appeal to the masses.  Especially any one who has any streak of competitiveness.   It provides instant feedback to any exercise or movement. 

For those of you who are not familiar, a Fitbit looks like a watch.  It is made from silicone/plastic material which is water resistant.  It needs to be placed on your wrist above your pisiform bone (bulgy bit on your pinky side of your wrist). Before you begin using the Fitbit you have to enter in your gender, height and weight.  The Fitbit will then continuously tell you how many steps you've taken, how many calories you have used, how many miles you have moved, and your heart rate.  There is even a component that can tell you your sleep quality and pattern (haven't tried that yet).

The thing is, I have been surprised to see that my perception of how much I move is skewed. On one hand, I am amazed at how much I move during the day, especially on the days when I am just "puttering" around the house. We live in a small, two story home but I have done miles just going up and down the stairs doing laundry and putting away the Christmas decorations. 

Yet, on the days that I am writing, I don't move that much.  This morning I have been busy writing.  Since putting on my Fitbit- a total of 44 steps!  That is it.  Part of me is glad that I am not up and down out of my seat like a yo-yo.  However, I can see the problem with the American workforce who is pretty much glued to a seat and computer screen.  Not much activity is taking place.  I am experiencing first hand, why It is so important for workers to take a break at least every 60-90 minutes and move around. 

I have also been surprised by my wanting to "improve" my score.  When you achieve 10,000 steps your Fitbit buzzes against your skin.  The other day, I made a couple extra trips to the basement just so that I could hit the 20,000 mark. 

The Fitbit is integrated with my smart phone.  There is an app for the Fitbit (no surprise there).  It shows charts of my progress and sends me little encouraging emails.  Just yesterday I received one, " Way to go!  You've climbed 25 floors.  The tallest trees on Earth can't top the heights you've been conquering.  It's no wonder you just earned the Redwood Forest badge!"  

Who writes this stuff?  Corny to be sure yet I am secretly pleased.  Who doesn't want to earn the Redwood Forest badge?  And of course, I don't have to let my achievements stop there.  I can even share my achievements with FaceBook and Twitter.  Frankly, for me that would be a little too much.  But, for someone who had an accountability partner or workout buddy that would be a great tool. 

So far my use of the Fitbit has led me to the following conclusions:

  1. You don't really know what you are doing until you measure it.  I would encourage you to measure your own activity level.  If you do not own a Fitbit there are free apps for your smartphone which can provide a general idea of steps taken or miles walked.  You can also jot down how many minutes you move or how many times you climb the stairs.  Whatever unit you might use to measure, you can find a conversion online.  For instance, 2,000 steps = 1 mile = 15 minutes walking.
  2. Everyone needs an "'atta-boy" or  "well done girl" compliment to whatever we are doing.  If you are trying to increase movement into your workday, give yourself a round of applause. Share your ideas and goals with a confident (spouse, friend, office worker) so that he/she can give you encouragement.  If you know someone who is trying to increase his/her own activity levels- encourage him/her.  Send encouraging texts. Ask how it's going.  Plan on celebrating once specific goals are met. 

What about you?  Did you receive any "exercise-type" equipment this holiday season?  What was it?  Have you used it?  Will you continue to do so?  Have you ever measured activities that you are doing?  For instance, do you know how much you move during the day?  Applying the principle to other matters, do you know how much time you take answering e-mails, checking FaceBook, watching television?