Fitbit just started shipping orders for its Fitbit Flex activity monitor wristband. I've worn every model of Fitbit since they debuted, so I was excited to get a sample to review. My wrist is a bit crowded as I won't give up my Nike+ Fuelband, and I wear the Jawbone UP at work with the Idle Alert set to vibrate when I've been sitting too long. Nonetheless, I abandoned my Fitbit One temporarily to try out the Fitbit Flex. My verdict -- pretty good, but my wrist belongs to the FuelBand. While the 5-light display gives you an indication of how you are doing, I still like having the numbers to view without going to the phone app or web dashboard.
Review: Fitbit Flex.
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner 2013
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
Sitting in the new smoking. That's a slogan you'll be hearing more and more often as studies show that sitting increases your health risks. But when my head is deep in my screen-time work, I lose track of how long I've been sitting. Luckily, there are apps and activity monitors designed to alert you or make you more aware of how long you have been inactive. I've been wearing a Jawbone UP, which I have set to vibrate after 30 minutes of low activity. I also tried out the Move More app last week, which you use to track sitting, standing, moving, exercising and sleeping.
Apps and Activity Monitors that Track Sitting Time
Do you have an app or know of an activity monitor that can alert you when you've been sitting too long? I'd love to review it and add it to the list.
Tell us about your favorite walking app
Screen shot of Move More App - Wendy Bumgardner
Call it Big Brother, call it coercive, call it a creative incentive. Blue Care Network offered a discount on their health insurance to obese clients who complied with either a pedometer program or Weight Watchers. Of the 6458 who chose the WalkingSpree internet-linked pedometer program, 97% achieved an average of 5000 steps per day.
The financial incentive to reach the goal was as high as $2000 per year for a family. That's a steep price to pay in losing a discount because you couldn't achieve a step count that is considered to be low-active, just above the sedentary level. Those with medical conditions could get a waiver from their doctor to be exempt from the requirement.
How many steps per day are enough?
A survey of the participants found that 2/3 of them like the incentive, while the other third hated being coerced, even though they were able to meet the requirement. The study didn't evaluate the effects on the weight or health of those enrolled, just whether they achieved the average 5000 steps per day goal.
What do you think of giving discounts for monitored health efforts? Many of us willingly track our steps per day with apps or computer-linked pedometers. It's a different equation when you are required to do it, or feel that your insurer or employer is tracking you. The study authors note that the Affordable Health Care Act will encourage more employer and insurer wellness programs.
Bottom line: Bribery works. This study concludes that incentivized programs such as this internet-mediated walking programs are a promising intervention in engaging obese adults in physical activity.
What does 5000 steps look like? It's only 2.5 walking minutes for every waking hour, about 40 minutes of walking spread out throughout the day. If you have a desk job or sit most of the day, adding in 2000 more steps with some simple changes throughout the day, walking the dog, or enjoying a dedicated walk on your break will get you there easily.
Photo © Walk4Life
Donna M Zulman MD, MS, Laura J. Damschroder MS, MPH, Ryan G Smith BA, Paul J. Resnick PhD, Ananda Sen PhD, Erin L Krupka PhD, Caroline R Richardson MD. "Implementation and evaluation of an incentivized Internet-mediated walking program for obese adults," Translational Behavioral Medicine, Doi: 10.1007/s13142-013-0211-6.
It's Get Walking Week in Britain. The Ramblers are coordinating hundreds of short walks to encourage Brits to get active this week of May 4-11. Just in time, as their online survey shows that one out of four people in Britain walk for an hour a week or less, and 43% walk for less than two hours a week. That leaves far fewer meeting the recommendation of getting 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week to reduce their health risks.
May 8 is also the IVV's annual World Walking Day. Walking clubs around the world offer walks to get you started. I've been an IVV walker since 1984. Here's how to find and enjoy an IVV walk. Are you ready?
However you choose to get started walking, the most important thing is to just get up and get moving. Find a place to walk or a walking event, now! Walk Finder by State
Photo © Wendy Bumgardner