I have been using a Fitbit Flex for a year. Well, I should say that I have used two Fitbit Flex in the last year, mostly because I lost one while collecting a hire car soon after starting to use this handy little device to track my activity levels.
I lost my Flex because the strap fastener is truly horrible. It is all too easy for it to come undone and allow the Flex to fall off, especially when you take a coat or sweater off. I’m sure that it’s not beyond the wit of men (or women) to come up with a better fastener. I don’t think much of the way that the Flex measures sleep (time awake, time asleep, and so on) as the need to tap to tell the device that you plan to go asleep and tap again to tell it that you’ve woken up seems superfluous. I am not at my best just after waking up and often forget to tell the Flex that I am in fact awake. It happily then registers blissful sleep when I am working at my PC. Which might just be true.
But that ends the complaints, which is not normal when I discuss an electronic gadget (apart from the Bose QC20 in-ear noise cancelling earphones, which I think are just great, especially when travelling). Generally speaking I like the Flex very much and it has proven successful in getting me to exercise more in the past year.
IT people have a horrible habit of being sedentary. It goes with the territory of sitting down to work with computers and when you’re sitting down, it’s all too easy to stay nice and comfortable, sipping your favorite beverage, and the hours trickle by. The best thing about devices like the Flex is the prompts they provide to get up and do something.
And the data too. Data is very important to IT people and even though the Flex is very much an entry-level activity monitor, it collects enough data to create and measure activity against targets and to accumulate statistics over time. Seeing the miles and kilometers mount up over the weeks provides the necessary motivation to get up and do something energetic daily.
Or maybe it’s the five lights that the Flex lights up as progress is recorded towards the daily target. Doing enough to make the five lights flash as the target is attained becomes a goal and the encouragement to take some more exercise.
All of the data gathered by the Flex is synchronized up to your Fitbit.com account and can be reviewed through a web dashboard. Here I find that I have walked a total of 2,805.63 km in the last year, or some 3,705,520 steps, which seems a lot. And that proves the benefit of being motivated by a little flashing wristband. I reckon that I probably walk 2.5 km/day just doing bits and pieces, so the additional distance walked because I have been motivated to meet the daily target is some 1,892 km.
When I walk, I typically use a pedometer running on my Nokia Lumia 1020. Because it’s GPS-based, its data is more accurate in terms of distance walked. The Flex operates on the basis of steps, which is an imprecise science when it comes to measuring distance. You can input data from external sources into the Fitbit.com portal to update your statistics.
Overall, I can’t complain. I’ve enjoyed the walks and dropped 4kg in weight. Now I am ready to use a more sophisticated activity monitor. Perhaps the Microsoft Band or even the new Fitbit Surge? Time to consider my options.
Follow Tony @12Knocksinna