Steven Morris, Digital Champions Coordinator, Online Today project
Following on from my oldblog in January where I wrote about my attempts to get fitter and track what I am eating with the ‘My Fitness Pal’ app, I’m back this month to write about my new toy, a Fitbit.
The Fitbit Flex is a wrist-worn device which tracks the number of steps I’ve taken, how active I’ve been, the number of calories I’ve burned and also acts as a sleep tracker. You can motivate yourself by setting goals. For example, walk 10000 steps in a day or sleep 8 hours a night! You can even have competitions with your friends if they own a Fitbit. There is a daily showdown where you can see who among your friends has walked the furthest—I always come last! The information from the Fitbit is accessed either through the Fitbit website or via their apps for Android and Apple.
Fitbit have released a number of different models at different price points. Mine is one of the more basic models which tracks exactly what I want it to, my steps. You can also get top-of-the-range models which will track your heart rate, among other things. There are also Fitbits in the range that can clip on to your clothes if you don’t want it round the wrist. The only problem with these, so I’m told, is that it’s easy to end up chucking them in the washing basket with whatever you were wearing and then desperately fishing around to try and find it again! It’s worth looking at the Fitbit website which has a page comparing the different Fitbits so you can see which one might be right for you: https://www.fitbit.com/uk/compare
I’ve had mine for about 3 months now and I really like it. Thee initial set-up can be difficult, registering the device etc. but once I got past this, I was up and running (no pun intended). As I mentioned earlier, the data synchronises wirelessly to an app on your phone or tablet. I use Fitbit with my iPhone so I can only comment on apple accessibility, but, I find the app to be fully accessible and really straightforward to use with Voiceover. My only problem now is that I keep wanting to check how close I am towards my goal! The Flex model also has a series of lights on the wristband which light up to indicate how close you are to your daily step goal, handy if you don’t want to stop walking to check your phone. This could be a useful feature for partially sighted users.
“the alarm vibrates against my wrist vigorously when it’s time to get up”
There is a silent alarm feature which is an absolute god-send to me as a deafblind person. I simply set the alarm within the Fitbit app, wear the wristband to bed and the alarm vibrates against my wrist vigorously when it’s time to get up. It even has a snooze function which is perfect for me! This may not be suitable for everyone, as some people don’t like sleeping with something around their wrist or clipped on to them, but if you do and you are looking for a silent way of being woken up, Fitbit might be worth a look. It’s worth noting that the Flex is water resistant too, so you don’t need to worry too much when you’re doing the washing up, but you do need to take it off when you go swimming!
” once it is out, it is really small, so it would be very easy to lose it”
I do have one or two minor issues with it however. In order to charge the Fitbit, you need to take it out of the wrist band. I find taking it out of the wristband pretty straight forward, but once it is out, it is really small, so it would be very easy to lose it. Getting it back in the wrist band after charging is also very fiddly for me and my big fingers! The battery life is 5 days, but I find that, if I can resist constantly syncing it with my phone, it will last even longer than that.
All in all, I’m really impressed with it and it’s definitely helping me to track my exercise and motivating me to move more.
You can find the full range of Fitbit monitors at the Fitbit website