Review: Review: Fitbit Charge HR
When we received the Fitbit ChargeHR through the post I was curious to say the least. I’d used an activity tracker in the past but never really found it to be massively useful, but the Fitbit ChargeHR, with integrated heart-rate monitoring and vertical ascent measurement seemed to offer something more to the party.
Over the last 3 months the Fitbit ChargeHR has not only integrated into our lives, but it has become an essential part of our daily activity – to the extent that if we are down on our step count for the day, it is not at all uncommon for one of us to head out for 30 minutes of walking to boost our day’s activity levels. The Fitbit doesn’t resort to nag, rather it comes down to your internal desire to hit that target! (Fitbit starts with a generic target of 10,000 steps per day, I’ve moved mine up to 11,000 per day as I was doing 10,000 about 90% of the time)
The basic premise of Fitbit is measurement…(and straight out of business process improvement)
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
“What gets measured gets improved”.
With that in mind, Fitbit allows you to measure your activity through the swing of the arm and pulse rate, and from that it calculates a calorie burn rate, and a range of other metrics around that activity. The metrics, and their display on your wrist, are customisable by yourself, meaning you won’t be bogged-down or bored by miscellany that is of no interest, and whilst they are displayed on your wrist, they are also available on your smartphone and online where you can delve deeper (much) into your activity levels.
In essence we have used the devices for some mild competition between ourselves, to see who is the most active on a daily/weekly basis – and through the simple act of monitoring and that small level of competition we have nudged each other to do that little bit more each day. It’s not at all uncommon for us to ask the other how many steps they have done at any given point during the day, helping to keep us honest and on-track without targets.
Interestingly we’ve also let our boys use the Fitbit, to see how they responded to the idea of step measurement. They wanted to know what their target was, and they also then started walking a little more to get the numbers up! This was fascinating to us as parents as we don’t particularly raise competitive kids, so their desire mirrored our own, and their increased activity levels helped to counter the birthday sweets that are doled-out at the end of a school day.
Fitbit uses activity milestones to help encourage you to do a little more exercise, by giving you a series of virtual badges for achievements they not only praise you, but also encourage you to go a little further to unlock that next badge! Examples include distance climbed in a day, historic distance travelled, new records for step count etc. They are trivial, minor, and ultimately quite flippant, but they work, darned well I might add!
One of the app features I really like is the hourly activity tracking – it monitors how many hours in the working day you manage to walk just 250 steps, and yes I have gotten up to walk for just 5 minutes to hit that target (it’s also good for you to have that little break and activity!)
I’ve not paid huge amounts of attention to the heart-rate side of things, but when I do it’s certainly very interesting to see how much time is spent in different exercise zones, whether it’s cardio or fat-burn etc. . It does seem accurate when I’ve also monitored with a strap or by the finger to the neck, so i could definitely see it being of use for sport!
With just one simple button it could be argued that it’s overly simplistic, lacking the frills of more convoluted devices, but perhaps that’s where the genius of Fitbit lies? I neither want, nor need, huge amounts of data being displayed on a minute-by-minute basis, most of the time I just want to simply see the time, but when i press the button at a glance I can get the key metric (for me) of how many steps I’ve done that day. A few more presses and it brings up distance travelled, calories burned, and altitude gained (measured in flights of steps). There are other fields available, but these are what is important to me.
Granted, to get the full benefit from such a device there must be some desire, or perhaps recognition, that movement is healthy – without even that basic comprehension it won’t be able to help much, but once the recognition is there, I think it’s a simple step (sorry) to see the Fitbit as an incredibly useful tool.
From my desk to the nearest toilet is 55 steps, however to the next toilet is a 400 step round-trip, including going up 3 flights of stairs – prior to Fitbit I would have taken the closest choice, but now I take the furthest one, because I have this little device on my wrist reminding me that it’s a healthier option!
A 10k run for Anda measures around 12,000 steps, whilst climbing up to the lake on Ben Nevis allowed us to knock out over 20,000 steps and nearly 200 flights of stairs in vertical ascent!