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The shocking truth about tech journalists is that we often spend ridiculous amounts of time sitting in front of our computers. Sure, the bosses love it, but often that’s not so great for our health. In an effort to clean up my act fitness-wise, I decided to employ some tech to reverse my slide into desk-potatodom.
Fitbit One is a pedometer about the size of a peanut (in the shell). It attaches to your belt or in your pocket with a silicone clip, where it constantly counts the number of steps you take, as well as altimeter readings that track when you climb stairs or hills. There’s a tiny LED display, which cycles through various data displays at the press of the One’s singular button. Although there’s an included USB dongle for wireless syncing to a Mac, iOS device users can also sync wirelessly via Bluetooth, which offers the advantage of not taking a USB port.
Setting up a Fitbit is simple enough. A quick trip to www.fitbit.com allows you to create a profile, set weight goals, and activate your One. Once that’s all taken care of, all you really need to do is wear the One and it’ll keep an eye on your physical activities, syncing all that data back to the Fitbit website where you can track your progress with various charts and graphs.
In addition to your total steps, the Fitbit One can also track your sleep when you wear it in the included armband at night. Unfortunately, to track sleep, you have to remember to put the device in sleep mode before you go to bed and take it out of sleep mode first thing in the morning. Once the novelty wore off, I often forgot to activate sleep mode or forgot to turn it off in the morning, rendering some crazy sleep stats that weren’t terribly useful. Also, the One has a tendency to pop out of the pocket in the armband during the night, leading to several mornings spent searching in the sheets and on the floor for the tiny device. While I liked the idea of tracking my sleep, the realities of actually doing it proved to be more trouble than it was worth. Plus, the Fitbit needs to be charged about once a week—a task best accomplished overnight—which leads to incomplete sleep data anyway.
Inconveniences aside, wearing the Fitbit does work. Of course, the device itself doesn’t make you healthier, but seeing your daily activities quantified is a great motivator to get moving more. On the Fitbit website you can also track what you eat, and add other activities that Fitbit’s pedometer can’t track, such as swimming or riding a bike.
When all is said and done, using the Fitbit has helped me drop nearly 25 pounds over the last two months. Not bad, considering that I haven’t set foot in a gym, and have only made moderate (and sustainable) tweaks to my diet.
The bottom line. It’s not a magic pill, but if you’re the type who thrives on quantifiable data, the Fitbit One can help you get a handle on your love handles.
Mac OS X 10.5 or later
Small. Provides lots of data.
Armband is cumbersome. Wireless syncing to a Mac requires USB dongle.