Good or bad? Is the Fitbit leading to a more health-conscious generation…or is it just one more cute piece of technology that costs money?
The verdict is not out yet as to whether the Fitbit is leading people to be more active in a meaningful way- fat loss, stronger heart, and generally “healthier”.
But I do have some thoughts about the pitfalls AND the big benefits to this little step-counting watch look-alike.
Let’s start with the GOOD list. Here are the top reasons the Fitbit is a really cool addition to a society that spends way too much time on their posterior, stressed out over a computer with bad posture, and loading up on bad calories.
First, IF it is a reminder to you to be more active, then I say bravo! That’s the point, isn’t it?
So if you can honestly say that wearing your Fitbit has led you to get up off your butt, take breaks, breath, get outside in nature and the like, awesome!
There’s no question that we all need to do this in the modern world. Our work environment has led most of us to hours and hours of sitting with bad posture and poor circulation.
The Fitbit might encourage you to take regular breaks, take the stairs, or take walks during lunch. To this point, call me a huge fan.
Second, I’ve heard of Fitbit creating a little healthy competition among friends and colleagues. Some people are actually syncing their stats and keeping score.
Who is doing the most steps? I’m a huge fan of healthy competition when the goal is getting you up and out.
Competition in the right environment is great social pressure. It’s healthy social pressure. It provides a level of accountability because others are watching! So you’d better keep your steps up. Lord knows you don’t want to be the person with the least steps.
Third, and this may only apply the first week you wear it, it may very well tell you that you are a LOT less active than you thought.
I’ve heard many people say after they wore it for a week they were blown away how little they actually moved and walked. In their minds they were “active people,” but the Fitbit was telling them otherwise.
So the last strong benefit is that it can really help you bridge the gap between your perceived activity and your actual activity.
I think for many users, this has made a lasting impression and change on their activity level.
But now…I’ve got to get to the BAD list. Let’s not actually call it a bad list. Let’s call it the “Potential Pitfalls List.”
My hope is that if I cover them here, you’ll take strides to make sure you don’t fall into the bad habits Fitbit is causing some.
First, when does 10,000 not equal 10,000?
When the quality of the 10,000 doesn’t compare.
Here’s a good example. If you hike 10,000 steps with a backpack over hills in a few hours, you’ve done one heck of a workout. If you walk from my bedroom, to the kitchen, to the car, up the stairs, around the office a bunch, up and down some stairs, and on and on…it’s just not the same quality.
It’s not to say that the latter is bad. But there is a huge qualitative difference. And, thus, the results will be very different.
The first one, 10,000 on a hike, will build your heart, burn fat and make your legs strong. The second will not do that, or barely do that at best. So partly, the question is what is your goal?
If your goal is to burn fat, get stronger and make your heart stronger, choose the hike. If your goal is simply stress reduction and a break in monotony then steps around an office are great.
It’s not that one is better than the other. I just don’t want you to fool yourself and believe you’re going to burn fat and improve your physique with that type of 10,000 steps. It’s VERY unlikely without adding other things like serious nutrition changes and a strength training routine.
Second, if you have very low muscle tone, your 10,000 and my 10,000 will be drastically different. This is all about Basal Metabolism.
For people who do not maintain a good musculature through serious outdoor physical labor or a fitness program, you are burning fat very inefficiently no matter how many steps you take.
Want to make that 10,000 more meaningful? Take my third point to heart. Make sure your body is more efficient at burning fat by building lean muscle and backing it up with core nutrition principles that don’t sabotage your efforts.
Third, and built on the heels of the last one, walking 10,000 steps is not and will never be a stand-alone routine.
There is so much poor thinking and fear around fitness, and my goal is to help you with the best tools possible. If I can help you create the most simple to follow and effective program for health that requires the least amount of time all in one…I’ve done my job!
So let’s do just that.
Let me back up my bold statement now- that walking IS NOT a stand-alone health and fitness routine.
Walking, just like running, is a great exercise. Depending on your goal and how you use it (see above- is it fat burning and heart strengthening OR stress-relief), they are both solid exercises.
But both are and will always be drastically limited. I’ve heard people incorrectly say that primitive people or agrarian people never lifted. They walked a ton but never lifted.
That is technically correct. But if you lived in a farming or primitive era, you did however do things like carry your food and water for distances. Maintain shelter. Build things. Carry wood. Make things with your hands.
That is lifting! We now sit at desks, walk almost nowhere, carry virtually nothing, and usually give up sports once we “grow up” and then we expect these bodies to carry us for decades and not break down.
This is all to say…you need a complete fitness program. Will 10,000 steps a day add to that and help you be a healthier, happier person? Absolutely!
Will 10,000 steps build a completely healthy body able to have strong bones, age well, burn fat efficiently and look good? Not without some amazing genetics. For most of us, the answer is just no.
So my concern for the Fitbit is that it makes you feel like you’ve gotten your 10,000 steps and you’re done. You’ve completed all your body needs to be healthy. You’re off the hook. Done with your fitness needs.
Have I helped you make a decision? To Fitbit or not to Fitbit? That is not the question.
The question is will it get you moving? Will you use it to change sedentary habits and build a healthier body? And will you make it “part of” a complete fitness program that gives your body everything it needs?
Dedicated to your health,
P.s. If you’re getting your 10,000 steps but you’re still not happy with how you look and feel, go to http://39minuteworkout-at-home.com/ and join us for 19 days for $19 with my Sprint19 program. Get 3 at-home workouts and nutrition support to finally start building the body, confidence and health you deserve.