Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday: Fitbit

My family got me a Fitbit Surge for my birthday in April. So this is a personal review after using this product for almost two months.

If you remember, I wrote a blog “Apple Watch Takes Tech Giant into New Territory” posted on September 19, 2014. The medical slant on this piece was that if the watch was not disease specific, few people would take advantage of the technology. Of course, I disagreed. General health is the goal and the parameters for this endeavor are not disease specific.

My Surge is designed to be worn 24/7, but needs to be recharged every 5 days or so. If I wear it at night, it will track my sleep habits. Good quality sleep is huge. It is a primary factor in AF and a host of other health issues. However, I find wearing a watch, or even my wedding band uncomfortable while sleeping. I have done it a couple of times and the data is very interesting. I seemed to have solved my sleep issues with my current nutritional/exercise regime so for the time being, no sleep data for me.

Activities of daily living (ADL) are also recorded. It will track how many steps you take, how many miles you walk, and how many flights of stairs you climb each day. It sends you a congratulatory email when you reach particular milestones. On our recent trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, we stayed in a three story house for a week. I got the “hiker’s award” for climbing stairs that week and have exceeded 10,000 steps per day on several occasions.

My primary use for the Fitbit is tracking my exercise activity. It is great for cycling and running as it has a GPS link that accurately tracks your movement. It displays heart rate, mph, distance and time. When you link it to your computer it can display a map depicting your course, including elevation, speed, heart rate and caloric burn.

I can’t use it for swimming as the Surge is not waterproof. However, I can enter any exercise activity into the “dashboard” on the computer link and it will calculate caloric burn based on the activity and time entered.

It is also limited in spinning class. The data is very close to the data displayed on the bike computer. However, it cannot gauge the distance traveled because the bike doesn’t really move. Hopefully, they will develop software to overcome this issue. I have had a couple of software updates in the two months I have used the product.

The program will sync with the watch anytime it is within a couple feet of the computer. It also syncs every time I plug it into the computer to charge.

The “dashboard” is the online program that lets you review all your activity – daily steps, recent exercise, etc. with a much detail as you want. There is also a log of all activity whether recorded by the watch or manually entered.

You can also enter you daily food intake and it will correlate your caloric intake against your caloric burn and help you establish parameters for losing weight, if desired. I did enter all the food data one day, but found the process fairly tedious. If you are serious about weight loss this program could be really helpful.

I was a little surprised to find that I burn about 10 Kcal per minute while playing tennis. That’s a higher output than any of my other exercise activities, even running. It is also interesting to see how little output there is to weight lifting, although it has tremendous benefits regardless.

Bottom Line:
Please take a closer look at the Fitbit or other fitness watches. They can be of real value in monitoring and encouraging you to meet your exercise and diet goals.

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