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Exercise Tracking Devices: A Lifelong Exerciser Gives One a Try and Comes Away Impressed
There are three types of adopters of modern exercise equipment–the early adopters, the non-adherents, and the slackers. One of the most popular exercise devices of my lifetime, aside from the 50’s rollerskates that hung from the keys, first appeared in 2007. It was the Fitbit. This device is very popular – the company has sold more than 100 million devices to more than 28 million people. I didn’t parent, until recently. I’ve done everything to get people moving, but I’m not particularly familiar with the value of a tool for motivational or follow-up activities. Because of the training, exercise and various forms of endurance in sports competition, I have emerged, mocked and rejected the control activities as a distraction and a distraction. I’ve been exercising almost every day for over eight decades and I don’t remember ever wanting an activity tracker.
However, when I found out that my health insurance company would give away a $160 monitoring device for free, I decided to give the device a go.
Voila! After a day or two of wearing this attractive, fun, and technologically advanced Fitbit Versa Lite, I was no longer a recruiter.
Fitbit is one of many tracking products, usually worn on the wrist like a watch. If you’re anywhere near my age group, the device might remind you of a Dick Tracy 2-way radio. If so, forget it! It’s come a long way from Dick Tracy’s whiz bang comic book material. That 1931 watch was pre-Bronze Age compared to the smart / space / Large Hadron Collider (LHC) worthy Fitbit.
But not everyone benefits from more exercise. In fact, high-performance Superperson athletes who perform amazing feats of endurance can benefit from a Fitbit device that counters the steps, reverses that motivates, tracks and rewards non-exercise! This can be useful during which time the athlete can benefit by not taking unnecessary steps, or by standing up when they can lie down, in restoring their bodies exhausted by the exhausting tests of the competition the demands of each new day.
This applies to riders in the three-week Tour de France. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, walking or waking up when not on the bike is almost heresy for Tour riders. They need rest between steps. It takes 21 brutal stages over 2,164 kilometers, including mountain climbs. They focus on energy conservation when they are not on their bikes; they never reach 10,000 points in total during the entire run. (Source: Joshua Robinson, How to Convince a Tour de France Racer: Get Him to Ride, Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2020.)
In one of his many victories (all of which he lost due to cheating), Lance Armstrong traveled 2,232 miles during the tour in 86 hours, 15 minutes and 02 seconds—about a speed of 25.9 mph. Can you imagine the atta-boy A Fitbit award for such a feat? Unfortunately, he can’t, because it’s almost certain that Tour riders and other professional athletes have other more important metrics to deal with, such as hits, goals, touches, times, points and so on.on. We mere mortals, however, can entertain and motivate ourselves in the pursuit of 10,000 steps per day (the gold standard for Fitbit users), heart rate, calories burned, floors climbed, area traveled and so on.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH FITBIT
I’ve always exercised regularly, as noted, but monitoring is a new experience. It encourages easy reading of data such as number of steps taken, maximum and average heart rate, calories burned, distance traveled, stairs climbed, and more. It also provides details, when assigned, for specific activities, such as swimming, cycling, running, walking, squatting, weights, golf, tennis, yoga, etc. 10 thousand steps in one day (I haven’t had a drop yet). I just received the award yesterday Redwood Forest Badge, proudly displayed on top of this RWR. It arrived in the mail from Fitbit, with this high encomium with the tag:
Go! You have climbed 25 floors. The tallest tree in the world cannot reach the height you have conquered. No wonder you just got your Redwood Forest badge!
One exercise I DO NOT follow, which I have incorporated into my daily routine for the last six months for strength training (due to the gym closing), is pushups. I do 200 six days a week, 50 a week during four stops of a mile walk; on the seventh day, instead of resting, blessing and sanctifying the earth, as God did after creation, I settled in for a four-mile walk and did 500 pushups, 50 every ten stops.
In fact, my Fitbit can probably track my pushups as well – there’s still a lot to learn, as the device has many features like the Apple watch. In addition to the time, day of the week, and date, there’s a timer, alarm, weather, music, wallet, entertainment/scent, Alexa, phone mechanics–oh hell, it’s endless. that’s right– there’s probably a get-rich-quick button somewhere.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
I shared a copy of this article with a colleague in Perth, Australia. I found his assessment particularly interesting:
I smiled reading your conversion to a Fitbit tracker. God will encourage you to see that you are easily influenced by good technology. Look in the post office for the next wrist gadget that counts the Our Father and the Amen before you are rewarded with the Way to Walk, you have reached the first step of the stairway to heaven. I’ve heard (similar to Trump’s they say) that it’s common for people to change their minds over time. I’ve even heard of people being converted to spa treatments.
This led me to think that perhaps Fitbit fans should listen to the words of Lord Chesterfield: ‘Keep your study in a special pocket, like your watch, and don’t take it out and slap it just to show you have one. If you are asked what time it is, say it, but don’t tell it hourly or without being asked, like a watchman. Lord Chesterfield was a British politician born on 22 September 1694-1773.
In other words, the good Lord (Chesterfield, that is) encouraged health magazine writers to spare us unsolicited details about their step counts, their heart rates, their calories burned, stairs climbed, cardiac minutia and other untold details. Points taken.
So, whether you’re an avid exerciser or a non-exerciser, consider tracking devices. It’s inexpensive (and can be free if you have a good health insurance plan), versatile and can lead to daily activities which, if you’re not a professional athlete, can be a very good thing.
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