If you don’t have the gumption or resources to get to the gym, check out the Fitbit Flex. Fitbit makes several different products, here’s their website: Fitbit.com, but we found the Flex best suited to our needs. Here’s a photo of what we’re talking about:
The Flex might seem like a toy but it’s not. Besides being reasonably fashionable, it effectively keeps track of your motion, or lack of it, during the day. Amazingly, it also registers your hours of sleep, not automatically but just as effectively. A few taps tells the Flex to go into sleep mode then a few more taps tells it that you’re up and ready for the day. In between, the Flex gauges your motion in the night. If you are a restless sleeper, the Flex will tell you.
How does the Fitbit Flex differ from a simple, and cheaper, pedometer? The difference here is the transmitter that’s built into every Fitbit device. Using a simple USB dongle or your Smartphone, either iOS or Android, it’s an easy task to sync the Flex to your very own page on the Fitbit.com website. This is what the page looks like after you’ve set everything up:
Hours slept, minutes walked, calories used, distance covered, it’s all there. We didn’t show your friend list in the photo but you can add anyone who has a Fitbit device for some friendly challenges. You can even trash-talk them to get them up and moving. All you need is their email address or Facebook account for the invitation.
Is the Fitbit accurate? It certainly is. We map our exercise routes on MapMyRun.com as well as with the Fitibit. Each time we’ve compared distances, the Fitbit was bang on. You have to put in some parameters, of course; simple things such as your height and weight, and the Flex does the rest. It averages your paces and comes up with a total distance which relates to the number of paces you took on your hike. Your objective is 10,000 steps a day and at least a half hour of ‘very active minutes’. We took that a step farther and walk an hour a day, just about every day of the week.
It’s suggested that you put the Flex on your non-dominant wrist. Why? Well that’s because the Flex registers every movement you make as a step. Brushing your teeth? The Flex thinks you are walking very fast. Hammering a nail? The Flex often thinks that you are telling it to go into sleep mode. It will vibrate and flash accordingly. If we were active with both hands, such as when we were building our shed this summer, we found it best to put the Flex into our left pocket. It will register movement from there almost as accurately as when it’s on our wrist. Don’t leave it in your pocket when you’re out walking though since it may not register every step.
Another cool thing that the Fitbit devices tell you is when the battery is low. You’ll get an email, believe it or not, telling you the situation. Simply slip the Flex into the USB holder, provided in the package, and insert the holder into an open USB slot. You might have to jiggle things a bit to get a connection since the Flex is very light. Once the little LEDs are flashing, you’re good to go. Your dashboard page will show the charge level.
Using the Flex is a bit like having someone nag you, very gently, to get up and get moving. Although you barely notice it on your wrist, you pretty much know it’s there, quietly waiting for you to step up and let it do its job. Since we got ours, through AirMiles as a matter of fact, we’ve been walking an hour a day, every day except one or two. In that time, basically two months, we’ve logged over 3/4 of a million steps. Total distance is more than 500 miles. That is made up of our daily walking routine as well as our normal movement around the office and home. Unfortunately this will drop significantly in the winter time but we expect to keep chugging away, despite the weather.
The Flex costs about $99.00. You can use your air miles points too, as long as the device is listed on the site you use. The only usage problem we had was the wristband splitting but that was because we weren’t removing the plastic internal device properly. Fitbit sent us a new one for free and we’ve been fine since.
Give it a shot, see if this simple exercise partner is what you need to get off the couch and into the world. Walking is fun, refreshing and very easy to do. No matter how slow you might be now, after a few weeks you’ll be out there chugging along with the rest of us. Look at it this way, the Flex is cheaper than a dog, right? Plus there is no poop and scoop involved! Good luck!