I recently decided that I will put my movement where my mouth is and invest in a health tracking device. I decided on a fitbit which is ultra-cool, ultra-light and so tiny that you really forget that you are wearing it most of the time. Studies have shown that those who log their intake and activity the most, do better when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In all my excitement, I decided to also track my sleeping pattern as I have always been a light sleeper. Over the past few weeks, I actually remembered to wear it daily and also check it throughout the day, which is already a new habit I needed to adopt.
It quickly became evident that as I do most of my work at the computer, my step count was never really high…..”yes ok, but I have to finish this first” I thought to myself and lost another opportunity to just get up and move. However after a 5 days of checking my tracker regularly, I felt increasingly guilty and sluggish when my step screen scored a lowly 896 steps….again. So I would stop everything, lift my…self , put on my walking shoes and aim for at least 8 000 steps. I would come back refreshed,energetic and spring-clean happy after seeing my glowing step count.
Just today, my son asked me to go outside for a walk and by looking at my step count, it was indeed time to hit the tar. However this time, I had to stomp like an elephant and gallop like a horse according to his command, luckily this too gets counted as movement! Not only did he learn that he can lead, I got my step-count up and we had a fun time doing it too.
So if you ask me, “does health tracking really work?”, I would agree that it certainly got me moving and aware about how much exercise I really need to do to maintain my health. Doing house chores, grocery shopping and running after a two-year old did not quite get me up to 10 000 steps a day.
Here are my top tips for getting started with a tracking device:
- Choose one that you like and that you will actually use. There is no point in getting one that does a million things that are not important to you. Decide on your priorities first, then choose the product
- Keep your device in the same place, like with the carkeys or at the bed side table. (Mine ended up in the washing machine, luckily it still works!)
- Check it regularly throughout the day, if by midday you can see that you will not reach your target, plan that walk or run into the rest of the day….no compromises
- Involve your children, friends, family members and colleagues to get your step count up regularly
- Set yourself a daily target step count, although 10 000 steps is the recommended number, start slowly and realistically until you can build up.
- Drink enough water
- Never stop trying to adopt a new habit, it takes time and commitment until it becomes routine. Your health is your priority, so use your device as your motivator.
Disclaimer: If you have any medical conditions, please consult your local Dr before starting on any exercise programme.