fitness · trackers

Things I’ve learned about tracking from Fitbit and Facebook

About a month ago I decided to take the plunge and invested $29.95 on a knock-off Fitbit. I was skeptical that measuring steps each day would be useful to me. It turns out it has been useful, but not in ways I might have expected. Here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. My Fitbit really only needs three settings— sedentary, regular and lots of walking 

Setting one: Under 5K. I have noticed sometimes when I’m working from home and too anxious or busy or stressy to move much, I get low step numbers. It definitely doesn’t feel so good to my body, so I try to do some yoga — even 7 minute yoga in the morning or evening makes me feel more comfortable in bed. I’d like to reduce the number of days like this. 

Setting two: 6–8K. If I’m teaching and moving around campus or even puttering around the house or doing errands I get this many steps. It doesn’t get my heart rate up though.  I do try to extend the steps whenever I can, taking longer ways to get places. Again, if I add in some morning or evening yoga (or both), my body seems to feel better.

Setting three: More than 10K. These are days when I’m doing a lot on foot or taking public transport or sometimes traveling (you can cover a lot of ground in airports), as well as taking walks or hikes. I tend to work up a head of steam these days.  I find that just adding in a half-hour walk to one of my setting two days really adds to the step count, so I think more setting three days are within my grasp.

2. Fitbit doesn’t measure what I’m really looking for, which is consistency and variation in activity. 

Of course I paid only $29.95 for my Fitbit so it doesn’t measure a lot of things. Its data collection is minimal and it only display steps and sleep (and is really inconsistent in its sleep measurements, so I ignore them).

3. I’ve got a much better and free measurement tool that I use all the time— the 219 in 2019 Facebook group.

I decided at the beginning of the year to measure number of workout days, not number of individual workouts. My goal is to be more active over the course of a week, or a month. What have I learned from the Facebook group? Here’s a list (do y’all like lists as much as I do?)

  • I really like doing at-home yoga workouts.
  • I’m averaging about 15 workout days a month. 
  • I haven’t been cycling much.
  • I’m more likely to do out of house activity when it’s with friends. 

Some of this information I already knew, but other info (like the 15 days/month of activity) is only possible through regular tracking. And writing down what I do every single time (along with a little commentary) really gives me a sense of how I am or was doing emotionally or logistically or work-wise, etc. for that period of time.

4. If I want to be more regular in my activity, I need to plan it in my schedule.

I know– duh. But I’ve typically resisted scheduling, preferring to stay open to what inspired me that day. However, I’m finding that for more cycling to happen for me, I’ve gotta plan it. Ditto for yoga classes.

5. In order to do some non-regular but fun activity this summer, like pond swimming, kayaking, hiking, etc., I’ve gotta schedule it.

Fitbit and Facebook won’t help me with this. That’s up to me. So I’m working on weekly schedules for the summer, and planning (or writing in where they’re already planned) other fun activities.

How do you plan your activity schedules? How do you work in non-scheduled exercise or activities or workouts? How do you approach your schedule– as a must-do, a to-do, an it-would-be-nice-to-do? I’d welcome your suggestions.

2 thoughts on “Things I’ve learned about tracking from Fitbit and Facebook

  1. Hey Catherine! When my life is busy [which is nearly always, except not this minute (see tomorrow’s essay on post-hysterectomy activity!)], I have to schedule my gym visits a week or two at a time. This does two things for me–it keeps me from doing something else (scheduling an appointment or whatever), and it allows me to plan the best activites for my schedule. For example, when I was running, I couldn’t run one day and then do a “leg day” type lifting workout the next day, without really struggling to recover properly. I wish I could say I would still be active if I let myself go with what feels good in the moment, but I’m not sure that’s true for me. I think I need the structure.

  2. I kinda just integrate it into life…without thinking too much and go by whim. Since we are car-free, then I am on the bike going to work, errands, shopping and out for fitness/pleasure trips almost daily spring to early winter. Or I walk /transit if weather is just crappy/ too cold.

    I do some simple yoga and tai chi exercises in evening at home. It’s more stretching, work some core lightly.
    That’s all.

    It sounds incredible relaxed ….but to car drivers it’s not because one has to plan abit with cycling as part of lifestyle..but I’ve been like this for past few decades. The simple yoga, stuff happens in spurts and then I forget, get stiff, yaddayadda, you know the drill.

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