Today we review something a little different. Not just a workout or a diet plan, but instead a fitness tracker that seems to be sweeping the world. While there have been plenty of trackers that you wear around your wrist that have been released over the past five to 10 years, there’s still one name that stands out above the rest, and that’s Fitbit. The company was created by James Park and Eric Friedman back in 2007, and the first tracker was introduced in 2008.
At the time, though, the tracker was clipped into a pocket and didn’t have much technological capability. Today, we see many different types of Fitbit products, with the most popular coming in the forms that you can wear on your wrist such as the Charge, Flex and Alta. There is even a scale that syncs with your tracker while keeping your weight and body fat percentage in a personal profile.
Since it seems that so many people are wearing a Fitbit, just how effective is it in weight loss? Let’s take a look behind the Fitbit phenomenon, and see if diving into the technology might be the right choice for you.
Celebrities that Wear a Fitbit
One of the many reasons that Fitbit has become so popular over the years is because you can frequently find them on the wrists of some of the biggest names in the world. Here are a few of the celebrities that have been spotted wearing a Fitbit tracker.
Robert Pattinson – Star of “Twilight” Robert Pattinson is frequently working out to stay fit for his movies. To track his progress, Pattinson uses a Fitbit Charge. Though it doesn’t track heart rate like some of the other Fitbit products, it lets Pattinson know how many steps he has taken with great accuracy.
Kevin Spacey – The actor from hits such as “House of Cards” has been spotted wearing the Fitbit Blaze. Though he hasn’t talked about his love of the watch, you can see him on Instagram frequently showing off his hi-tech gear.
Ryan Reynolds – “Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds has been using the same type of fitness tracker for several years, and it’s the Fitbit Flex. The simplest of the Fitbit watches is good enough for Reynolds as the dots let him know how close he is to his daily step goal.
Christina Applegate – Most of us have common colored Fitbit trackers, but that’s not the case for “Married with Children” and “Anchorman” star Christina Applegate. Applegate has a designer Fitbit tracker and said that it has helped her a lot. She told the press at an event that “I’m wearing a Fitbit trying to get rid of all my baby weight.”
Barack Obama – Former United States President Barack Obama is perhaps known as the most physically fit president of the past 100 years, and he attributes the Fitbit Surge to helping him track his exercise daily. Obama loves his device, even though he couldn’t sync it to his phone while he was president as the only phone he could have was a BlackBerry given by the government. Now that he’s no longer president, expect Obama to finally set up his Fitbit account on his iPhone.
What to Know About Fitbit
Now that you have seen many of the celebrities that swear by the Fitbit to help keep them active, how instrumental are the devices in aiding weight loss? There has been some interesting data that has been released over the past few years, with more than 100 studies focusing on Fitbit’s effectiveness alone.
One study that was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh had nearly 500 people that were all put on a low calorie diet and increased their exercise. After losing weight for six months, half of the people were told to write down their daily activity and food intake while the others relied on their fitness trackers. The studies showed that after two years, those that didn’t use the fitness trackers continued to lose more weight, even though both groups were just as active.
The reasoning that the researchers came up with was a psychological one. Many of the Fitbit trackers show how many calories that you have burned off in a given time, even though it can range from person to person depending on their metabolism. If someone sees that they have taken plenty of steps and burned a lot of calories, they might be more inclined to eat more than those that don’t have a specific number laid out in front of them.
Another reason that the study came up with was trying to meet those daily goals. People might push too hard to beat out their previous high in steps, leading to a crash where they don’t get as many. When that happens, the guilt of not exercising enough can take over, leading to overeating. This can also happen for those that get into competitions. When you have won a competition by taking the most steps or losing the most weight in a given time, you might be inclined to get into your old habits afterward.
Other studies have shown, however, that having a fitness tracker does indeed help you to get more active at the very least. People often get surprised by how little activity they are getting when they first wear a tracker, and then set out to higher and higher goals while wearing them. Of course, it takes a proper diet to lose weight no matter how much you are exercising, but people who wear trackers are moving more. It’s now estimated that one in every five Americans has some type of fitness tracker, with the Fitbit brand being the most popular.
All of the studies that we have seen so far don’t have a finite conclusion, though. That’s because fitness trackers don’t have a very long history. There are many more years of research needed, and the oldest studies out there are only about five years old. We will know more about the effectiveness of Fitbit trackers down the road, but for now they seem to be promoting healthy habits.
Picking the Right Tracker
Knowing that you’re more likely to get active while wearing a Fitbit, you probably want to know which one is going to be the best for your personal needs. Let’s look at some of the different types, what they do and how much they cost.
Zip – The device that doesn’t go around your wrist, the Zip is the simplest of the Fitbit options. It keeps track of how many steps you take and syncs to your phone. It doesn’t get very specific, and costs around $60.
Flex – The simplest of the wrist devices, the Fitbit Flex shows no numbers, but instead dots. When all five of the dots are illuminated, it means that you have reached your daily step goal. You can see the specific amount of activity you have done when accessing the smartphone app that has synced to your device, costing around $70.
Charge – There are a few different types of the Fitbit Charge, with all of them showing you how many steps you’ve taken on the screen. It also shows you the time, as well as calories burned, distance travelled and floors climbed. This is a big step up from the Flex, and the price reflects that at $100.
One – If you want a step up from the Zip, but don’t want to wear something around your wrist, the One might be the way to go. The one is a pedometer that you clip onto your clothing, and tracks stairs, calories, distance and steps. It even sets a silent alarm if you want, and can even be clipped into a wristband if you change your mind. The One usually costs around $100.
Alta – The Alta is a very strong device that will display everything you want on a very small surface. It also receives texts and calls, making this a smartwatch. It is about the same that you would expect from an Apple Watch, except the price is much more affordable at $130.
Blaze – For those that want to see things on a much larger screen, the Blaze is the way to go. The screen is very detailed and syncs with your smartphone so that you can actually read texts and see who called. It’s also large enough to where you can see workouts, giving it a personal touch and can track your distance travelled by GPS. It’s a bit pricey, though, as it costs around $200.
Surge – The final Fitbit watch on the list is the Surge, which is the highest promoted watch by the company. It has GPS tracking and covers all of the necessities that you would expect from Fitbit. It also has a very long battery life, can play music and will remind you when to get active. It’s the most expensive of the bunch, at $250.
Summing it Up
So is wearing a Fitbit tracker magically going to make you lose weight? Probably not, but it sure will help you be mindful of how much activity you are getting. Just be sure not to fall into the same trap that a lot of people do and overeat because you think you’ve burned a ton of calories. You still need a proper diet to lose weight, even if you are getting in better shape from wearing a Fitbit.
If you have the means to buy a Fitbit, there aren’t really any negatives outside of overanalyzing yourself that we can come up with. You do have to know a couple of things, though, including the fact that you need a smartphone to sync up with the device. The other, it’s not always the most accurate when it comes to steps, but Fitbit products are more accurate than other trackers. If you don’t become a slave to the Fitbit, then you can find yourself losing weight fairly easily without overdoing it.