Fitbit: the Nicorette of Sitting

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Couch Potatos with No Symbol

Chasing each other in a large loop around the couch and coffee table while “House of Cards” plays on the TV in the background, I’m pecking with my free hand on my laptop’s keyboard, while my husband is scrolling through Instagram on his iphone. It may appear to be an odd game of cat and mouse – but in fact we’re just ‘getting our steps’ before the clock strikes midnight and we reset back to zero.

This scene is not uncommon in our living room ever since both my husband and I started using Fitbit activity trackers. Perhaps we’re just an old, lame, married couple, and this is how we get our kicks, or maybe we’re actually making strides to improve our overall health and wellbeing – possibly even adding years to our lives! (The truth is probably a little bit of both…) Regardless, the Fitbit has inspired some great changes in our lives, and I highly recommend jumping on the fitness/activity tracker bandwagon.

There are loads of activity trackers in the market these days – Fitbit, Jawbone, Misfit, Garmin, and even the new Google watch is gearing up to take the world by storm. Each device features some sort of daily steps or distance tracking, a way to monitor sleep, and a basic calories burned estimator. Some trackers have more sophisticated features like continuous heart rate monitoring with the Fitbit Charge HR or Fitbit Surge, some offer caller ID and text messaging–or any number of cool functions, while others merely stick to the basics. I’m not here to review all the features or weigh the pros and cons of which type to spring for – there are tonnes of reviews on the interwebs of this nature if you’re interested. I’m also not going to discuss the accuracy of these products, either – although The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a small test on this if you’re interested in reading more about it here.

compare-activity-trackers

I simply want to suggest that no matter what variety or brand you fancy, it’s a worthy investment. Any make or model will do. Personally, I was a Fitbit Force addict user for more than a year, and was pleased when Perpetua member and Harvey Norman representative, Tim Hannon, hooked me up with a new Fitbit Charge HR to test out in addition to the one they donated to a recent Eat Clean Be Lean winner. While I do highly recommend the Fitbit Charge HR, I really just want to advocate activity trackers in general.

But I workout. Why should I use a fitness/activity tracker?

Well…

When was the last time you hopped into your car to drive to a destination that was only a mile away (or less)?

How many hours did you spend sitting in front of your computer at work today?

Did you enjoy lounging on the couch Saturday night for a “Better Call Saul” marathon?

When you’re sucked into Facebook or listening to your favorite podcast, or gaming your Candy Crush saga (is that still out there?), how much time is spent on your arse?

Basically what I am asking is how sedentary is your life outside of the gym? Do you find yourself sitting down for over six hours a day? If so, that could be a problem.

But who cares? I train hard 5-6 days a week, so?

Well, not so fast. It’s quickly becoming common knowledge that sitting is the new smoking. Many, many research studies are linking sedentary activities, ie. sitting, with increased risk of cancers (here’s a study), cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity (here’s another study).

But, again, I workout!!! I train 6 days a week and bust my ass in the gym – I’m hardly *gasp* ‘sedentary.’

Well, the unfortunate thing is despite your one or two hours of structured exercise a day, research suggests the adverse physiological effects that occur from extended periods of sitting may be independent of the positive physiological changes due to structured exercise. Check it out here.

“Wait, wha..? huh…?” In other words:

You can’t out-train a sedentary lifestyle.

It’s simple. Training for one hour a day in the gym is not enough to offset the remaining 23 hours of your day, especially if your job demands spending countless hours seated in front of a computer or in meetings all day. If you live a predominantly sedentary life outside the gym, then you need to get up and move around. When you are wearing a device that counts every step you take, it really brings awareness to your daily activity levels–or inactivity levels, in some cases. On highly active days, it points out what a rockstar you are. On less active days, it’s a constant reminder to get off your ass and hit some step goals. With an activity tracker, I bet you will find yourself much more inclined to periodically take a few laps around the office, pace during your phone calls or meetings, or just peel yourself off the couch during a Netflix marathon–even if it’s only to circle the coffee table a few hundred times (don’t judge me).

Hopefully most of you are activity junkies already but in case you’re not, increasing your daily levels of non-exercise activity can have a tremendous impact on your overall health and potentially add years to your life while decreasing your risks of certain types of cancer. Activity trackers are a fun way to turn this into concrete measurable goals–and if there’s anything we love, it’s smashing goals, right?!

Coach Kortney

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