Highlight an App: Fitness

By Brenda Bethman

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I would much rather read a book than run or play a sport — and that I love to eat (really, truly love it). Combine that with a (mostly) sedentary job, a husband who is an excellent cook, and the inevitable slowing metabolism that comes with hitting middle age — and well, I could stand to get some more exercise (because I weighed the options and decided that eating nothing but salads or giving up wine were both unacceptable — so moving more it is).

Oh, and I should apologize for the lateness of this post — I was working on a new website yesterday and completely forgot about posting. So, here we are today. Now, where was I? Right, looking an apps — or really a gadget. Yes, I finally broke down and bought a Fitbit, under the assumption that a true geek girl would find data motivating. I’ve had it for a couple of days, but so far that is correct.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Fitbit, is a small wireless tracker that you wear and that tracks the number of steps taken, flights of stairs (or the equivalent when walking/running hills), calories burned, and miles traveled. Combined with the website, the Fitbit apps (or other apps such as MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, Nike+, etc.), you can also track calories consumed, water drunk, and workout activity. I am less interested in the calorie counting aspect as I find nothing more dull than tracking one’s food. Nothing. But the activity tracking has been an eye-opener — I knew that I spent a lot of time being inactive (especially in the summer), but it was shocking to see just how inactive (especially if it really is true that sitting a lot really is super bad for you). So, I’ve turned to technology to help me stop sitting so often (ironic, no?) — first, with the Fitbit, as seeing the numbers and charts is, as I noted, really very sobering. Also, with another app, BreakTime, that I’ve installed on my office computer and laptop. BreakTime can be set to automatically force your computer into an inactive state for a set amount of time at set intervals (currently, I do 5 minutes every 55 minutes). It’s configured so that I can’t stop it and I can’t quit the break early. So, once a hour, I can’t use my computer, which is my signal to get up and go take a quick walk outside or around the building. I am hopeful that I will be able to keep this up once classes start up again in a bit.

The other cool thing about the Fitbit (and the reason I chose it over other gadgets) is that it will also track sleep activity. Here’s mine from last night:

This is the kind of data my geeky heart just loves. And I’m hoping that it will also be useful should my not-so-great semesterly sleeping patterns reemerge with the start of classes.

So far, I’m pleased with the Fitbit and its associated apps — and hopeful that it will help me keep moving more even with the craziness of the semester. What about you? What apps do you use to try to work fitness into your busy day? Tell us in the comments. And here’s hoping that your openings / first day of classes/ beginnings of the semester go well!

 

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