More than just a Wristband

In the last couple of blog posts, we spent time reviewing the challenges of keeping up with exercise before the advances of the Fitbit, Nike Flue-band,  and the Jawbone. Without this devices calories, heart rate, and miles run were just a guessing game. Last post we discussed how these wristband workouts effect the world of exercise. This new technology allows for all these elements to be compacted into one space and with that it, may even be more accurate.  Today we’ll finally be talking about the star product of the wristband entirety – the Fitbit.

The Fitbit was created in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman yetFitBit Ultra comes in two colors and is small enough to wear every day of the week the , ever so popular Fitbit Flex was not released until May of 2013. Up until this point, one of the Fitbits was a device that users would clamp onto their clothing and was named the Fitbit Ultra. This product collects data by a three-dimensional accelerometer system. In other words, it tracks motion, as well as the intensity of that motion. It also tracks the elevation which is incredibly important since the information of running bleachers is extremely different then taking a walk down a flat street. According to Chandler, “the base station charges your FitBit’s battery, and every time you pass within about 15 feet of it, the FitBit transfers more of your activity data”. Thefore, this device allows you to place this information on your laptop or even a smart phone!

The Fitbit has since evolved from a exercise track connected to your clothes to a exercise tracker attached to your wrist! The Fitbit Flex offers an abundance of new information storage, sensors, and media outlets that just makes the life of a gym-going so much easier. For example, this product can be strapped around your wrist. People never have to worry about there devices falling off their clothes while running on the treadm
ill or the inconvenience of the product getting in the way while crunching and squatting! When comparing the Fitbit to our old tracking systems, they simply do not compare. Writing down calorie intake was never as accurate as people wished, calculating a heart rate was never as simple as the nurses made it look, and tracking your sleep was simply impossible. This technongly is an innovation that allows for simplicity, convenience, and accuracy.

A article written by Nick Broughall explain why and how the Fitbit Flex tracks your daily routines. He states that the Flex has 5 LED lights that light up throughout the day which can be activated with a simple double tap. Located above these LED lights is a small clear band that allows the user to see their progression while wearing the wristband. However, there’s something about this product that was able to set itself aside from the competitors. The Fitbit Flex offers users the option to have their exercise information sent directly to their mobile phones. This eliminates the hassle of taking apart the device, plugging it into your phone, and waiting for all the data the sync. Instead, the Fitbit will occasionally “wake up” and transfer the data for you! Fitbit has an app that is available on  several platforms. According to the app’s description on iTunes the user is allowed to track activity, record workouts, log food, monitor heart rate, manage weight, set goals, track your sleep, and even compete with your fellow gym-goers! All the information you need about your health and exercise is all in one place. No more need to need a journal with your meals, use the timer on your phone to track workouts, or use a planner to set your goals. This app does it all for you. Check out this quick video made by Tesco Tech to see exactly how this  wristband and app work: Youtube.

With all of these options that come along with the purchase of the Fitbit, what are people actually using it for? After searching the web and interviewing friends, here are some responses:

Since wearing the tracker I’ve been sleeping more – and I feel that I’ve been sleeping better. Before using the Flex I’d been down to about five to six hours a night. And my sleep efficiency for the last two weeks has risen to a pretty stellar 94%. 

– Nick Statt (http://readwrite.com/2013/06/14/can-a-fitness-tracker-really-change-your-life-part-two/)

 

Having a device on my wrist makes me more aware of what I am eating and eve
n changing my mind set. Instead of taking the bus around campus, I walk to my classes to reach my step goals. I rally like how it notifies me when I have completed the goal and even how man
y calories I have lost from it!

-Eric

 

My caloric intake is about 1700 calories in a day, and throughout the day I try to plan my meals so that I would not go over my 1700 calorie limit. But now that I have my Fitbit Ch
arge HR, there is a setting where I can record the calories burned, heart rate, steps taken, and how many miles and flights of stairs I climbed. Now having the Fitbit I can add in my calories burned into MyFitnessPal so that I am able to consume more calories while still meeting my goal for calories or even having calories left over.

-Andy

So how popular is this revolutionary wristband device? According to DMR Stats and Gadgets, as of November 2015 the Fitbit has 19 million registered users and 9.5 active users. As we can see there is a large population of people that have a registered device but do not contribute to actually using the Fitbit on a daily basis. However, it is important to note that just prior to 2015, Fitbit only had about 10.9 million users and only 6.7 active users. Therefore, the number of users are increasing dramatically as the years move forward (Goode). Along with this, the company’s share of wearable tech is 34.2%. The Fitbit is continually growing as a product and dominating the market. Will you hop on this fitness train?

http://www.techradar.com/us/reviews/gadgets/fitbit-flex-1124344/review

http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/fitness/fitbit2.htm

By the Numbers: 12 Amazing Fitbit Statistics

http://www.theverge.com/tech/2015/8/6/9110035/fitbit-fitness-tracker-watch-active-users-sales

 

 

Wristband Workouts

Let’s review. Before the Fitbit, keeping track of your steps, calories, and sleep wasn’t all that easy. From writing down all the calories you ate in an agenda to using a phone application to count your steps – accuracy was missing. So how exactly has this technology affected the world of exercise? That’s what I’ll be discussing during this week’s blog post. So take this moment to step away from meal prep and reaching your step goals to sit back, relax, and learn more about that fancy gadget on your wrist!

Jawbone, Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band and Apple Watch – all devices that have change the fitness world since 2013. No longer do we need those ugly pedometers or chunky workout planners. This is because these devices sync data to your computer or phone which makes it possible to receive give real-time measurements of steps taken, miles walked and calories burned. The person wearing the device has the ability to see this information as they are working out not after they are working out. This is important because the viewers are able to control their heart rates, know what zone they are in (fat burning, relaxed, speed up), and what they need to do to reach their goals. They no longer have to attempt to remember the data from a workout. No more having to write down how many miles you ran on the treadmill or saving the packages of food you ate.  This makes a fitness goers life a lot easier as witness in an interview:

Before the Fitbit, the only thing I really counted was my calorie intake from my diet. It was more challenging seeing as I had to go and look at everything I ate. With my Fitbit and my “myfitnesspal app” I can look it up and get a more accurate count. Everything for you is at your fingertips making it so much easier.

-Tori

Not only does this wearable fitness technology help people who are already interested in fitness, but it also helps people leap into a fitness lifestyle that fits their needs. Just this year my mother. Paula, received the gift of a fitbit and this was a turning point for her. Paula started going to the gym more whether it was for a zumba or a spin class. As well as this, she became extremely interested in increasing her goals. When I’m not at college, it’s impossible for me to go a day without hearing my mom say, “Guys! I reached my steps today! I think tomorrow I am going to add a couple more steps to my goal”. Therefore, that little buzz on the arm of my mother was rewarding. It also reminds her when she should and planned to work out. According to Munson et al. (2012), “participants found it beneficial to have secondary and primary weekly goals and to receive non-judgmental reminder” (32). Therefore, people who were reminded of their goals were more likely to achieve them, thus they were more likely to keep on track with their workout plan.

When I go to Zumba class, I know I will reach my step goal. When I feel the buzz on my arm during the class, it pushes me to work even harder. It’s also fun to compete with my older daughter, Heather.

-Paula

Therefore working out is seen as an exciting and thrilling activity rather than something people are opposed too.  According to Tate (2015), “this devices frame physical activity as fun rather than exercise, using movements that are inherently fun”. Tate also explains that these tools have the capability to remotely deliver functions of behavioral interventions that have been shown to improve physical activity”. Older exercise tools do not have this same affect. They cannot remind you when to workout, congratulate you on reaching your steps, or give you important information when you need it the most. And even more – they do not make you want to exercise. In fact, these old exercise tools are being replaced by 19 million fitbit users and 75 million myfitnesspal users (Smith, 2016). As well as this, according to a Harris Poll the Fitbit was ranked as the number one most wearable exercise tool with the Nike Fuel band coming in second.

So, is it safe to say that wearable tools have become the new trend or norm? Just from walking around UConn’s campus, one would believe that wearable exercise tracking is all the rage. However, once you look deeper into the numbers – this does not seem to be the case. According to the char on the left, only 21% of all US adults use such devices as the Fibit, Jawbone, and Nike Fuel band. Just a year before this, TechnologyAdvice conducted a study of 900 adults and found that only 25.1% are using these tracking devices. This meaning that 74.9% of the adults are not using them for multiple reason.For example, some just lack interest in these products and other are concerned about price as well as accuracy. Another study presented by the Pew Research Center, stated that 50% of Americans still track there exercise in their heads and 33% still use notebooks or agendas as of 2014. However, an important event to note is that many people of the younger generations (generation y and millennials) have huge interest in these products. As you see from the graph above 34%  generation z/millennials and 35% of generation y are using wearable tracking devices. If this trend keeps prevailing this may mean we we see a large jump in the amount of adults using Fitbits. Although, using this type of technology may not the norm as of right now, if the newer generations continue to be the main users of these devices, it is possible that there will be a wearable workout takeover!

Remember to stay connected and follow my twitter!

techbit2016

References

Munson, S. A., & Consolvo, S. (2012, May). Exploring goal-setting, rewards, self-monitoring, and sharing to motivate physical activity. In Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare (PervasiveHealth), 2012 6th International Conference on (pp. 25-32). IEEE.

Tate, D. F., Lyons, E. J., & Valle, C. G. (2015). High-Tech Tools for Exercise Motivation: Use and Role of Technologies Such as the Internet, Mobile Applications, Social Media, and Video Games: TABLE 1. Diabetes Spectrum Diabetes Spectr, 28(1), 45-54.

Life before the Fitbit

The Fitbit, a revolutionary device that’s transforming the way we track our fitness and daily routines. However, how does this compare to the space we once lived in without this device?

The Fitbit was created in 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman yet was not released until May of 2013. So how were people tracking their steps, calories, sleep, and weight without it? During the years between the creation and release date of the Fitbit, many other technologies were stepping up to the world of fitness. Before the time of all this tech talk, I remember being in third grade and having to wear a pedometer to track the steps I took during class. After one gym class, I went home and asked my mother if we had owned one and if not,I was going to ask her if that could that be my birthday present. ‘Outdoing’ my classmates on their steps became a game soon after the introduction of this tool. Little to my knowledge, my mother wore one in order to track the steps she took per day.  Therefore, in 2002 people were using pedometers as ways to keeps up on their fitness. Remembering my experience with my mother, I decided to take to Facebook and ask the public how they took exercise stats without the accessibility of the Fitbit. The following are some responses to this post:

“If I remember sometimes I write down what I eat. If I workout I write it in my planner.”

-Allee S.

“Before I got the Fitbit I would just record my exercise, like what workouts I did and how many reps and what I did for cardio and how long I did it for. For example, if I ran for 30 mins on the treadmill I would record that”

-Andrew S.

Therefore, before the time of the Fitbit some people would manually write down their exercise plan. This would include how many miles they ran which fitness goers would get from a treadmill, the amount of time they worked out by keeping time on a stopwatch, and even writing down what they ate for the day along with the amount of calories they consumed. However, writing down information does not seem to be the most logic and reliable way to track information.

operation-40k-monthly-workout-record-p1

From my research, the next example of a tracking device was able to come about by the introduction of smartphones in 2007. The smartphone had technologies that allowed for apps to be downloaded to the phone for many uses. Fitness goers were now able to track their exercise stats was through an abundance of applications smartphone device had offered. Almost everything you needed to know was at the tip of your finger.  In order to understand how these applications are used, I will discuss the two main fitness apps that people claimed they used on my Facebook post. According to Kranz et al. (2013), GPS trackers, workout planners, and exercise books are the three different categories in these applications. I will be analyzing apps that fall under the GPS and workout planners categories.

GPS trackers include apps such as RunKeeper that “annotate outdoor activities like running or cycling with location information” (Knranx et al., 2013, p. 207). According to Gilbert (2011), this device has split counters, a calorie burn counter, and GPS location. It even has an encouraging voice speaking to you throughout your run that makes statements such as “You’re doing great!” or “You’ll be fit in no time!” Along with the animated voice over, the app also allows the user to have to enter a database full of tailored workouts (Gilbert, 2011). However, there do seems to be some problematic issues with this application. As Knranx et all. (2013) states,  “the quality of exercise instructions can be improved through well-founded information and physiological correctness. Moreover, the combination with skill assessment and targeted feedback could be a large step towards self-determined, autonomous training” (p. 208). This meaning that the  tailored workout made for this running app could actually damage and hurt the user if they are executing the plan wrong.

The next app is considered a workout planner or an app that has goal-orientated workouts for weight training as well as exercises devoted to certain body parts (Knranx et al., 2013).

The Nike+ Training Club is a prime example of a workout planner. As stated on Nike’s website, you get to workout, your way:

“Up to you, as it should be. Drills focusing on HIT, yoga, and pilates will push you – hard. Audio cues will help you keep a good from. And video guides and step-by-step images make following a breeze.”

The applications has over 100 Nike Master workouts to chooses from giving the user many different opportunities and options. The user could measure the number of workouts done, number of minutes spent working out, and average calories. This app also help with long term motivation because it allows the fitness goer to sign up for 4 and 6 week programs which pushes you to meet goals and exceed your abilities.

The world of exercise tracking has been in constant transformation with the adaptation of new technologies. Fitness goers began with the struggle of manually writing down their daily activities in a journal, which I would believe was often lost or too bulky to carry around. Now people have the ability  to downloading apps on a smartphone that keep a digital log of the information. With applications such as these, it is hard to believe that something more technologically  could be introduced. However, the evolution of exercise tracking has not ended. Join me in my next blog post to explore just how much the Fitbit has changed the world of exercise!

For now, stay updated by following my twitter account!

@techbit2016

References

Everyone. Every run. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://runkeeper.com/
Gilbert, J. (2011, July 15). The Fitness App RunKeeper: Reviewed For Lazy People, By A Lazy Person. Retrieved February 9, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/15/runkeeper-a-fitness-app-review_n_899855.html
 Kranz, M., Möller, A., Hammerla, N., Diewald, S., Plötz, T., Olivier, P., & Roalter, L. (2013). The mobile fitness coach: Towards individualized skill assessment using personalized mobile devices. Pervasive and Mobile Computing, 9(2), 203-215.
Nike Training Club. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.nike.com/us/en_us/c/womens-training/apps/nike-training-club