About a month ago, I read an article in the New York Times about a new hi-tech pedometer called Fitbit Ultra. The reporter, Stephanie Rosenbloom, gave a first-hand account of her Fitbit and credited the little memory stick-size device for motivating her to walk and take stairs like never before.
Now I’ve tried a few pedometers in the past, but after a couple of days, the novelty wears off and the pedometer always finds its way into a drawer. But given the rave review of Rosenbloom, I thought I would give Fitbit a try and I went online to buy one from fitbit.com.
Priced at $99, the Fitbit Ultra isn’t cheap. Yet, I convinced myself I had to have it. And before I clicked “purchase,” I asked my husband if he wanted to buy one too and he scoffed at the suggestion, saying: “I’m already a walker and don’t need this expensive toy to motivate me.”
Within a couple of days, it showed up in the mail, and I installed it on my computer. It comes with a small USB charging station that also serves as a wireless connector for the device. Within minutes my account was set up online. It took about two hours to fully charge, and I proceeded to clip it on my waistband. A full charge lasts about three days.
On the unit I can push a button and get an update on my number of steps that day, my mileage covered, my estimated calories burned, and the number of sets of stairs I’ve climbed. In the morning, it even welcomes me with my name and a random motivational greeting such as “Hold me,” “Burn it,” or “Game On.”
With the online dashboard, you get all this information and plenty more, including charts showing your progress against your own daily or weekly goals or goals provided as a default based on your age and weight. It even comes with a wrist-band if you want to measure your sleep patterns at night, i.e., less movement means a more restful sleep.
By wearing the Fitbit, I immediately found myself taking more walks throughout the day, taking the stairs when possible, parking further away from the store, and even walking around the house before I went to bed if I needed a few more steps to get to my 10,000-step daily goal.
Within days, my husband had witnessed my unprecedented enthusiasm for walking, and he decided he had to have one too – and as soon as possible – so he bought one that day at the new Microsoft Store in Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, VA.
Now he and I compete against each other with our steps, stairs, and mileage covered each day and week. We gladly volunteer to go to the mailbox or put out the trash at night just so we can accumulate more steps. What other little device can do that?!
I don’t expect this obsession to last forever, but while it does, we’ll both be healthier for it and will lose a few pounds in the process. The Fitbit Ultra is not the only new electronic step or activity tracker out there, but it’s clearly one of the most popular and easy to use.
Fitbit took a healthy and low tech idea like a pedometer and used innovative present day technology to make it a very compelling product that might just extend one’s life.
That’s well worth $99 in my book.