Photo: Tatsuo Yamashita / Flickr

Does the Fitbit fit the bit-fit student?

A couple of months ago I decided to run a half marathon for charity and as a result, needed to buy some decent kit like new trainers and clothes. Then I decided to succumb to the trend of the fitness tracker and give it a go. Here’s the low-down on the Fitbit One for Boar SciTech.

Why did I choose the Fitbit over its competitors, like the FuelBand or the Jawbone? Firstly, it’s one of the better-known brands, as it was one of the first companies to start producing fitness trackers before they became a huge trend. It is one of the more integrated products too; suitable for both Android and iOS, and also can sync with a variety of different apps as well as the original Fitbit software.

I liked the Fitbit One due to its small size and ability to clip it anywhere: from pocket, to belt, to bra. I didn’t really want a visible tracker on my wrist because I already wear a watch all the time, plus I was a bit concerned about people trying to steal it on a night out or something.

The price of the One is fantastic in comparison to its competitors too – at just £69 on Amazon, it’s a nice treat to yourself without breaking the bank. Its sister Fitbit Charge clocks in at more than £100, as does the FuelBand and the Jawbone, and that’s slightly too expensive on a student budget.

The thing I am most impressed with regarding the Fitbit is the way it ‘never sleeps’. As soon as you clip it on it detects every movement – from walking up stairs to running for the bus (damn you, U1) – and becomes more than just an activity tracker, but a lifestyle tracker. Your recent activity level is visually represented by the length of a growing flower on the display, and the time, alarm, number of steps, number of floors you’ve climbed, distance you’ve walked and calories you’ve burned are also displayed as you scroll through using the tracker’s button.

Although the tracking system is excellent and very accurate in working out distance run, calories burned, and active minutes post-workout, I would not recommend the Fitbit One if you’re looking for a live pedometer. At the moment you can import Fitbit records into apps such as MapMyRun, but so far I haven’t seen an app which updates you on your distance and speed live via screen or audio. Maybe we’ll see this as a future development from Fitbit, but for now I’m using the free Nike+ running app in combination with the device. It doesn’t track non-cardio workouts very well either – I do pole fitness and exercise with weights regularly, and neither of these activities register very well with the tracker.

The sleep detector on the tracker is excellent too – all you have to do is pop it in the wristband and press and hold the button before and after you sleep. Then by checking the Fitbit app you can see how many times you fidgeted in the night and woke up, along with a calculation of your sleep quality. Turns out I’m a restless sleeper and really need to get more hours in!

The Fitbit app also tracks how many calories you’ve consumed vs. calories burned, if you input your daily meals. This takes time but once you’ve got into the habit and have saved your frequent foods, you get used to it – and it really is useful to make you think about your diet, and consider healthy balance too. The app tells you if you haven’t eaten enough calories, as well as too many. At the moment there is only a US food database in English, but hopefully a UK one will be released in the future (chips, not fries please!). You can also input your water consumption, and receive more detailed weight loss (and sleep) breakdowns to help with dieting if you purchase them from the Fitbit website.

Overall, the Fitbit One is an excellent purchase for the health-conscious student, as it is affordable and truly tracks all aspects of lifestyle. It is important to keep a balance though: if you don’t wear the device constantly it won’t give a consistent overview of your activity, yet it’s also very easy to become obsessed with checking the graphs and statistics on the website! But ultimately, even if you don’t want to buy a Fitbit right now, it’s got a lot of potential for future technological expansion, so watch this space.


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