Has six months with a fitness band turned me into a fitness freak?

Back in April, I reviewed the Jawbone UP. It’s rarely been off my wrist since then, but has it improved my overall fitness?
The theory is simple, as it is with any given bit of fitness gear. Buy it, the advertising says, and within weeks you’ll start to look like this.

OK, maybe not exactly like this
OK, maybe not exactly like this

Image: Robby Green

Still, I’ve worn it, on and off fairly regularly since it dropped onto my review desk. That’s not meant to be an advertisement for Jawbone one way or the other (you could opt for the Fitbit Flex, or the tracking built into the Galaxy S4, or wait to see what happens with the M7 chip in the iPhone 5s, etc, etc, etc….) but the question remains — what has it done for my overall fitness?
Well, for a start, I’m not exactly Scott Steiner, pictured above.

That’s probably a good thing if you know anything about the man, but what I do now have is a whole lot of data on my movements, and that data is quite powerful stuff. A few in-no-order-whatsoever observations:
1) I’m much worse at remembering to put it into sleep mode than I am switching it from sleep mode to awake mode. More than 75 per cent of my “missed” tracking is sleep tracking. It doesn’t disturb my sleep (though it still disturbs the cat when the alarm goes off), but I still have terrible sleep patterns.
2) It’s probably not all that accurate; I’ve had some days where I’m sure the total should have been much higher. It’s still a good endorphin buzz to hit that 10,000 step target, or rarely on those days where I exceed it.

Sleep is apparently something that other people do. But step? I can do that.
Sleep is apparently something that other people do. But step? I can do that.

3) I’m not entirely sold on the “social” aspect, but maybe that’s just me. There are plenty of other folk in my team — tech journos mostly — and while words of encouragement are nice to get, I rarely feel as though I’m “competing” with them. I’m competing with me. As I say, maybe that’s just me.
4) The charging/syncing issue — where you’ve got to use the 3.5mm plug to sync to a compatible smartphone or tablet — really doesn’t fuss me, although it might if I lost the charging cable.
5) For those interested in the total stats: Since April, it’s logged 1,119,876 steps in 167 days, or an average of 7,154 steps per day. Given I’m meant to hit 10,000 steps per day to stay healthy, I guess that means I fail the fitness freak test.
6) In the same period, it’s logged 872.5 hours of sleep, or around 5.2 hours of sleep per night. Yes, I did miss a few nights, but (yawn!) that sounds about right — and at the same time, horribly, horribly wrong.

2 thoughts on “Has six months with a fitness band turned me into a fitness freak?”

  1. I’m in the Fitbit camp myself Alex, and for me, I think it’s worked. I’m about to hit my 8 millionth step, and I’ve dropped about 5 notches on my belt. I’m doing between 90,000 and 150,000 per week, competed in and finished a marathon, and just all around feel better. Did the Fitbit ‘make’ me do it? No, but it, and the competition with past data, has been a trigger that has worked.
    The sleep feature? I don’t use it, and don’t rate it much.

  2. That’s interesting and a great follow up Alex.
    I’m interested in the sleep monitoring. It seems to be a good indicator of sleep quality. I also find the food logging useful although i’m not obsessed by it. Being able to track my weekly activity against my weekly eating is a good way to ensure that I’m living a balanced life
    Scott – awesome stuff!

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