At the end of last year, I entered a challenge to workout three days a week and win a free Fitbit One. I entered it just to see what the hype was around Fitbit and its range of products. Little did I know that it would change the way I moved. This post is for those of you who are thinking of getting a daily activity tracker like the Fitbit or are interested in downloading an app to do the same job..
If you are still on the fence, here are five reasons why using these tools to track your activity can do wonders for your lifestyle:
Determine How You Move
A lot of us think that we move a lot more than we actually do, but if you are working at a desk job there is a high probability that all the movement you get is to get from your car to your desk and the other essential places. Research is showing that exercising only a few times a week isn’t enough and that moving more throughout the day can significantly improve your health. Wearing an activity tracker to track your steps will show you just how little [or how much] you are actually moving. When I got my Fitbit, I was amazed that on an average day I moved only 3,000+ steps compared to the recommended 10,000.
Estimate The Number of Calories You Burn
The basics of losing weight is summed up in this statement – “Your calorie intake needs to be less than your calorie burn.” There is a calorie expenditure equation that you can use to determine how much you burn at your current weight, and it takes your BMR [basic metabolic rate] and factors this up by an activity factor. But wearing an activity tracker such as the Fitbit can give you a more accurate estimation of how many calories you are burning during your daily activities. Knowing this information can help you better determine how to adjust your calorie intake so as to achieve your goals. To continue with myself as an example, my Fitbit calorie burn average for the past few weeks have been about 2000 calories a day*. Since I’m not trying to lose weight, this confirms that the 2000 calorie eating pattern that I currently use as a guideline is sufficient. Because I exercise, I could actually stand to increase my intake to a 2,200 calorie pattern without gaining weight, but that is just too much food for me.
Knowing the number of steps you currently walk can help you set SMART goals to increase your activity level. 5,000 steps or less a day is considered inactive, and 10,000 is the current golden number for highly active people. If you currently walk 2,000 steps, aiming for 10,000 steps off the bat is not in your best interest as that is a lot of steps to make up. Instead, increase your step count in manageable percentages, and you can only do this when you have an initial number to start with. Continuing with my personal example. My first goal was 5,000 then I decided to increase by 50% to 7,500 and finally to 10,000. Now I’m beyond that, averaging about 11,000 a day. I was only able to achieve this because I was conscious of the initial number and I set a SMART goal to ramp it up. You can do this too.
Confidence is a practice. It is not something that happens to you, but something that you cultivate every day when you surprise yourself by doing things you didn’t think were possible. If your current mantra is “I don’t have time to exercise,” using an activity tracker to set goals can show you just how easy increasing your activity levels can be. And the confidence that comes from achieving the goals that you set for yourself can spill over into other aspects of your life.
When I started working to increase my step count, I started alone. I would take short breaks from my desk to climb to the penthouse of my office building [15 floors]. Eventually, some colleagues joined in, and other groups formed. As I got more active, a friend of mine encouraged me to join them in walking outside during lunch, and that has opened up my world. The bottom line is the walking breaks I take have brought me closer to my friends. Starting on your own doesn’t always result in you building a community, but encouraging friends to join you can have the surprising effect of helping you create a support system like I’ve done. Now at 11 AM, I’m itching to leave so that we can catch up on gist as we walk.
Leave a comment to answer this question – If you are interested in tracking your activity, what tools are you considering?
*This is the weekly burn summary from my Fitbit weekly report. Note that if you use a Fitbit, the calories burned include your BMR. An app like Accupedo only counts the calories that you burned walking.
Working out is an important tool to help you be healthy, but there are more…
In You Don’t Need a Diet, I break down why diets don’t work to help you get healthy and lose weight, but I also share the eight tools you need to get results without dieting + how to get started no matter how busy you are.