Fitbits for life or fad?

Pictured: Brett Trana checking his fitness stats. | PC: Zach Morrison

Pictured: Brett Trana checking his fitness stats. | PC: Zach Morrison

With technology a part of our everyday lives it can get easy to rely too heavily on devices and apps. But, technology may prove useful for enhancing your exercise. An increasingly popular way of supplementing one’s health is through fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit. These devices can track your daily water intake, calories consumed and burned, sleep and how many steps you walked. Because it seems many on campus are wearing Fitbits, I wanted to get the details on the device and see if fitness trackers in general are worth all the hype.

“I currently have one of the newer models, but I've been using the Fitbit for more than two years now,” says sophomore history major Bry Galloway. “Many features come with it that are useful for me to see how my body is doing on a weekly basis.”

For many people, the primary use of a Fitbit or other fitness tracker is to build motivation.

Simply knowing how many steps you walked, hours slept, or what foods you’re eating may encourage you to hit that 10,000 step goal, go to bed by 11 p.m. and choose carrots over chips, especially if you’re comparing with friends or just trying to set and meet personal goals. The Fitbit app, for example, allow users to enter competitions with friends who also use Fitbit to see who can reach the most steps in a weekend, or work week.

The app also sends out reminders to walk more and notifies you upon meeting a targeted goal. Other fitness trackers offer ways to encourage users along their fitness journey.

“I use my Fitbit to basically monitor the progress of what type of activity I happen to be doing. If I see that I had a really good week and this one wasn’t that great, then that’s what pushes me to do better next time,” explains sophomore computer science major Aksana Buster.

Fitness trackers can be helpful in motivating healthy changes. | PC: Zach Morrison

Fitness trackers can be helpful in motivating healthy changes. | PC: Zach Morrison

Though easy to track steps and monitor sleep, some features of fitness trackers are not so favored.  “The only issue I found is having to manually put in information in the app with things like food and water intake,” comments Galloway. “But the app is available on Android or Apple so that’s cool.”

Another potential issue is inaccuracy; just how good can  this technology be for us to fully depend on it? “At first I thought that they were expensive pedometers, but after I got one it was easy to see my activity levels. The device is able to track a lot of things. I think it would be difficult to get a wrong reading,” explains health and human performance director Dr. Nancy Petta.

If curious, plenty of information is available for users to see the ins and outs of how their devices track and log data. Yes, you really are taking that many steps! Still, if the device isn’t worn properly or runs out of battery while wearing, you’ll miss some information.

Petta adds, “I would highly recommend fitness trackers to anyone who would like to start getting active, or just want to know how they are doing. It’s all about awareness.”

If the thought of spending $100-$150 on a Fitbit doesn’t seem practical, other companies offer comparable fitness trackers, for a price on which you and your wallet can both agree. Some top contenders are Moov Now, Mi Band 2, Garmin Vivoactive HR, the Samsung Gear 2, and many others for affordable prices. Not sure where to buy? Amazon typically has the best deals, though you may consider checking out Best Buy or other stores to look at them in person.

While the initial cost may deter you, a fitness tracker can be the extra insight you need into getting healthy one step at a time. Do some research, ask some friends and decide if this workout trend is right for you.

Caroline Guchu is a sophomore studying communication.