fitness · trackers

My (fake-o) FitBit won’t make me fit, but it’s not its fault

I’m very late to the party, but I have finally gotten a FitBit.  Mine is a fake one ($29.95 on Amazon), and it does count steps, more or less.

Why did I get this gadget? Mainly, I want to know how active I am in my regular weekly routine; I haven’t been cycling much (yet), so walking has been much of my cardio-ish exercise.

So what have I learned after a week with Fake-o-FitBit?

First: My activity patterns tend to fall into one of three categories.

  1. working from home, I don’t get in many steps (3000-4000ish?) until I make a deliberate plan to take a walk.  I sort of knew this, but having the data makes a stronger impression.
  2. Teaching and running around on campus, I get in many more steps than I expected (6000-7500ish?). Still, it doesn’t feel like much of a workout.
  3. Any day in which I plan a walk somewhere (or am traveling—airports are great for lots of step accumulation) seems to rack up more than 10K steps, all told.

This is very useful information for me, because it’s telling me that if I want to be more active on days I’m working from home, I have to schedule it.  Maybe this is obvious to everyone else, including me, but somehow having the numbers in front of me makes the situation clear.

A week of steps...

During the summer, I tend to cycle very often—riding around town from place to place, doing errands, etc.  I also take longer road rides alone or with friends. So, that activity takes care of itself. But if I’m not on two wheels and want more activity out of my day, I have to make a plan.

Second: step counts don’t tell me how hard I’ve worked physically.  Duh. But again, I needed to experience the week and see the data to conclude that substantial cardio fitness for Catherine will not automatically happen through just stepping a lot.

Third: It was totally worth $29.95 to get this information. Yes, I kind of knew this, but I respond well to data (even likely inaccurate and over-counted info from a possibly-pirated step counter).

Not that I’m planning on throwing it away, now that I’ve learned some things. I’ll keep wearing it and sync’ing the info to see if any different patterns emerge.  It seems like Fake-o-FitBit will help keep me honest and aware of what I am and am not doing each day.

Fake-o-FitBit won’t help me set my fitness goals and physical activity schedule. That’s not what it does. I have to do that my damn self. Which I will. But it does help me see what counts as sedentary/meh/more active for me in daily two-legged movement. That’s worth the price.

Thanks, Fake-o-FitBit!

Thanks, Fake-o-FitBit! (Photo by Manuel Cosentino on Unsplash)

Dear readers, how do you use step counters?  Do you find similar categories of activity? How do you use the data?  I’d love to hear your experiences.

5 thoughts on “My (fake-o) FitBit won’t make me fit, but it’s not its fault

  1. I too am late to the game on owning a fitness tracker. I mostly use my phone and/or log workouts manually. The last time I used a pedometer religiously was probably in my undergraduate program and I always wonder if I am still getting the 16k steps/day I managed back then….but haven’t yet invested in a way to track it. I love that your approach is just basic curiosity with a hint of skepticism about the accuracy of the results instead of gung-ho proselytizing.

  2. I’ve been obsessive about my Fitbit in the past but realized focusing on step count only wasn’t doing me any favors since I’d often neglect strength training just to hit my 10k on days I can’t do both. I work from home so I’m with you on it being very challenging to get enough activity in without a conscious plan!

    1. Yes, that’s such a good point. I recall hearing about studies (or maybe just commentaries, but lots of them) that 10K fitbit folks ended up doing less other activity in their days, focusing solely on that goal. This is true for intense athletic training periods, too– cyclists who do 6-hour training rides tend to be couch potatoes for the rest of their waking day; this is fine, but important to know how focusing on and meeting one fitness goal tends to crowd out other fitness goals.

  3. Hey like you I’m surprised at how much I walk around campus. I got a sense of that when my knee was at its worse. I have 7000 step days just on campus.

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