Insights & Actions for Healthy Living
Couch or Computer Potato? Should a Health and Fitness Band be in Your Future?

Couch or Computer Potato? Should a Health and Fitness Band be in Your Future?

Walking is good exercise, even that done as part of your daily routine. Maybe you don’t have time for a formal workout, but the walking you do all day is enough, isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be great to know?

With the advent of fitness bands and other wearable devices that track our movements each day, we can see exactly how far we have gone each day (or not gone except in our minds!).

You may be surprised at the amount of steps or distance that you travel each day — or maybe shocked is a better word!

Wearable fitness devices have exploded on the scene and are selling internationally in staggering numbers. It is reported that 13 million wearable devices were shipped in 2013, with that number expected to grow to 130 million in 2018.

My fitness band

I have been using a fitness band for about six months now and have diligently been tracking how far I go, what I eat and drink and how much I sleep with the help of the smartphone app. It is not always easy, can be time consuming and a bit frustrating at times especially, when powering it back up interferes with trending my averages.

Why do I care to know this information you might ask?

I am a healthy person who naturally eats right and tries to stay physically active, I am a dietitian after all. After wearing my fitness wearable for awhile, I realized that there are days that I need to do better. I don’t always meet my goals but I am working on it!

I get a real time update using my smartphone (or my computer) on my progress. I can see exactly how far I have gone in steps or miles or how far I have yet to go. The data is also available for trending weekly, monthly or yearly progress if that is what I want.

Because I consider myself an active person, I was initially shocked at how some days I do not meet my goal.

Goals are established by the person wearing the monitoring device and can be adjusted as improvement occurs or goals are met. If you continually meet your set goal, it is time to set new goals and continue to challenge your health and fitness for success.

When I don’t meet my goal by let’s say noon, I know I have to get going and try a few things to put a little traction in the action to reach them.

Couch and Computer Potatoes Beware

If our basic goal is to walk 10,000 steps each day, which is recommended by health experts, it will take some attention and effort for many people.

There are days when I look at my status are realize I have to get out and get moving more. Perhaps it is extra time working out, more walking or some other activity, such as household chores, that will allow me to meet my goal. If I haven’t walked enough steps, I certainly can’t overeat at dinner without a penalty in this case weight gain.

If you sit behind a desk or just sit around the house on the couch, it is highly unlikely that you will achieve 10,000 steps.

I honestly think people don’t realize how much effort is required to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Working in an office, sitting behind a desk or computer screen, may be detrimental to your health and weight goals if you are not aware of your progress and take actionable steps to achieve the physical activity you need everyday.

Most people have heard that 500 extra calories a day for a week will lead to one pound of weight gain. The reverse is also true, expending 500 extra calories a day for a week will lead to one pound weight loss.

We just don’t want to believe that what we have heard for years, calories in versus calories out, will help us maintain a healthy weight. It actually will take some effort on our part to achieve a healthy lifestyle or weight — no magic pill will make it so. I know that seems like a lot of work to change habits, but our health is worth it. The easy way out is not likely to be the answer.

Using a fitness band from whatever manufacturer provides you the bells and whistles you desire can help you achieve your goals.

Fitness Band Benefits

I have found that despite the rigors of inputting data each day, I gain valuable information from the data I supply.

My band helps me understand that I was restless for a large percentage of time while I should have been sleeping and that may make a difference in how my day evolves.

My wearable device also encourages me in real time to drink more water. I won’t get to the end of my day and say “I wish I had another glass of water today!” The icon that portrays my body fills up when I am getting enough to drink and tells me exactly how much more I need before the day winds down. I knew this was an area of weakness even though I love water with lemon but need the extra nudge sometime to keep the glass filled.

It shows me how many steps I have left which can motivate me to take the stairs instead of the elevator or go take the dog for a walk. It also rewards me with a signal that I have met my goal which is a welcome sensation!

Emotions and the challenge of perfection are great motivators! I have become very competitive with the smartphone app to see if it will give me what I seek!

Before I had my band, I thought I was doing well being active but I will tell you honestly, that wasn’t always true. I was fooling myself that my good intentions were getting the job done. It is pretty hard to argue with the tally when it is staring me in my face.

Some days I really need the cues to tell me where I need to work harder to achieve my goals. It is a great way to remind me to get up from behind the computer and move more. It’s not that we don’t want to do the right thing to be healthy, we just get focused or caught up in the day to day tasks of our lives and forget to keep our health in the forefront.

Drawbacks of the Fitness Band

There are some things that took some getting used to with my fitness band before we became one.

I had to figure out a good plan for recharging it so that it wouldn’t make an impact in tracking the data I desire. The band can trend your goals for 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 1 year, etc. It sends you messages weekly about your progress such as your best day or worst day. I haven’t yet discovered a way to tell it that my worst day was due to the fact that I had it on the charger instead of recording. My averages all go down however. (I told you I was competitive!) Now I try to charge it during the time that I know I will be sitting behind the desk where it won’t negatively impact my totals as much. It only requires a weekly charge so I have been able to find the right time to do it.

You are supposed to be able to get it wet and even wear it in the shower. This is hard for me to accept so I always remove it for showering. My concern is when I workout, I of course wear it. That is prime time for monitoring my activity. The band and the actual device gets pretty wet from sweat to the point where I have to dry out the inside compartment. I have yet to see any ill effects but am afraid they are coming.

I had trouble with my charger. It stopped charging for some reason. I used the online user guide to clean it according to manufacturer but still ended up having to buy another one. I think, if I was troubleshooting correctly, somehow the metal piece was bent not allowing a good connection. I really don’t see how that was possible since it is encased pretty well so feel it was design flaw or defect.

I am looking forward to the advances in technology that I have heard at the International CES are on the horizon. One day sensors may be able to replace our need to manually enter data. My band may also read my pulse, heart rate, blood pressure or subcutaneously test my blood sugar. It may hold a charge longer or interact with other technological devices in the future such as my refrigerator. Smart refrigerators could remind me to buy more water with lemon — or maybe remind me I don’t really want that snack!

The US is facing an epidemic of obesity in both adults and children. If a device such as a fitness band will motivate even some people to get moving, the silly little gizmos will be all worth it! You never know, you might enjoy wearing a fitness band, I sure get great conversations about health going when people ask me about what I am wearing!

Prevention is the key to helping our nation life healthfully. We need to be armed with the data that we need to make effective changes in our behavior and habits in order to succeed at becoming healthy!

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