FitBit Flex – Can a Fitness Gadget Help You Be More Active?

Fitbit Flex

In case you haven’t noticed, getting fit has gone high-tech. These days you see people sporting a band they around their wrist that monitors every step they take, tracks the food they eat and even records their sleep patterns. Other folks download fitness apps to their iPhone for extra fitness motivation.

At one time, wearing a pedometer might have been high-tech but some of the new fitness gadgets take self-monitoring to a whole new level. We thought we’d share with you over time some of the options available for monitoring your health behaviors and whether we think they offer benefits.

FitBit Flex – The Wristband That Monitors How Healthy You’re Living

One of the most intriguing devices out there for keeping track of how healthy you’re living is called FitBit Flex. It’s a rather stylish-looking wristband you wear around your wrist all day and all night. While you’re wearing it, it tracks the distance you walk, the number of steps you take and calories burned. This neat little wristband also shows you how close you are to achieving whatever activity goal you’ve set and how much time during the day you spent being active.

The FitBit Flex does more than just track your activity – it also tracks your sleep patterns. You can set it so it tells you how long you slept and how restless your sleep was. It tells you what time you went to bed, how many minutes it took for you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up during the night, how long you were in bed for and how many hours you slept.

You can also use the FitBit app to track how much you’ve eaten, your weight and weight goals to help you keep track of calories. You can sync Fitbit Flex wirelessly to some Bluetooth 4.0 devices, to your PC and to some Android and iPhones. It gives you reward badges when you meet a fitness goal and makes it easy to share your information and goals with friends and family. You can even buy accessory bands in different colors to go with your favorite outfits.

There are some disadvantages. For one, it’s not capable of measuring how many steps you climb since it doesn’t have an altimeter. It also doesn’t monitor your heart rate.

We Gave FitBit Flex a Spin

I have a family member that has a FitBit Flex we were able to try it out for a few days. After trying it, we have somewhat mixed feelings about it. It looks and feels good on your wrist, but I’m not sure we really NEEDED all the information it provided such as the sleep tracking feature. We’re both pretty sound sleepers and already knew we were sleeping well. It might be useful if you have problems with insomnia.

I liked the activity tracker, but, for my purposes, a pedometer works almost as well. I do appreciate the fact that you can set activity goals and know at a glance how close you are to reaching them. The “calories burned” feature also comes in handy. It’s certainly easier to wear than a pedometer. You can leave it on your wrist all the time – even when you’re in the shower. You can’t wear it underwater because the pressure will damage it. It looks pretty cool too.

Are There Benefits to Having Something Like This?

Whether the Fitbit Flex or any other fitness tracking device will work for you depends on your personality. The thing we like about it is wearing it on your wrist is a constant reminder to stay active. When I was wearing it, I felt inspired to get up and move around every time I looked at my wrist. The constant feedback and reinforcement of knowing how close you are to reaching your activity goal is motivating.

On the other hand, if you’re already somewhat motivated and only want to track your activity level (not your sleep patterns), you may do just as well with a pedometer. The Fitbit Flex is easier to wear than a pedometer. Plus, the Fitbit Flex gives you a little added encouragement like, “Just 500 more steps to reach your goal.” Sometimes it’s nice to have the extra encouragement.

If you like feedback on how active you’re being or how well you’re sleeping, Fitbit Flex gives it to you. On the other hand, an inexpensive pedometer will also track your steps. Use what works for you – but don’t forget to move more, regardless of whether you wear a tracking device or not. These devices are only a tool. You have to do the work of staying active.

Question: Have you ever used an activity tracking device, pedometer or app? Did it help you stay active?

Kristie Leong M.D.

Dr. Kristie Leong and Dr. Apollo Leong are physicians helping you to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing nutrition and fitness tips and keeping you abreast of the latest health news.

2 thoughts on “FitBit Flex – Can a Fitness Gadget Help You Be More Active?

  • February 6, 2014 at 10:11 pm
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    Don’t think the Fitbit would do me much good.I have trouble keeping a self-winding wristwatch going

    • February 12, 2014 at 12:09 am
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      Richard, sounds like the Fitbit definitely isn’t for you. LOL! Maybe a pedometer would work better. 🙂

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