Fitbit Fitness Innovations: Track Steps Taken, Sleep Patterns and Calories Burned

By Miranda Moore

It’s no secret that the United States is considered to have some of the most overweight and obese inhabitants in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent of U.S. adults were obese in 2009. Even with these statistics, Americans are mainly obsessed with two things—weight loss and technology.

Television and radio are bombarded with advertisements and infomercials pertaining to losing weight. We are also constantly seeing and hearing ads for the latest cell phone or Kindle. People even go so far as to camp outside a store the night before a new iPhone is released. Several companies have come up with products that combine the two, but one company in particular is solely dedicated to the technological advancement of fitness.

Fitbit is a company headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., that was founded by James Park and Eric Friedman. The Fitbit Company is known for its product of the same name, the Fitbit series of trackers.

Wear the Tracker on Your Wrist with the Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit Flex is the newest addition to the Fitbit line of products. It is a wireless-enabled, wearable device that measures data such as the number of steps walked, quality of sleep, and other personal metrics. The tracker is a wristband that uses a 3-D accelerometer, which is similar to the technology used by the Wii Remote to sense the owner’s movement.

Nvate Fitbit flex, ultra, one, zip and aria weight loss pedometer

Fitbit Flex Credit: Fitbit

Steps taken, the distance the user walked, calories burned, floors climbed as well as activity duration and intensity is measured by the Flex. The device uses an OLED display to show this and other information such as the battery level. Sleep quality and how long it takes the consumer to fall asleep is also measured, along with how much they wake up during the night, and how long they are actually asleep.

Believe it or not, tracking sleep data is a very useful tool in keeping physical and mental health in check. According to WebMD, not getting enough sleep or not even sleeping well can be detrimental. Sleep recharges a person’s body and gets them ready for each new day. Without sleep, they are not functioning at maximum capacity.

“Most adults need seven to eight hours a night for the best amount of sleep, although some people may need as few as five hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day,” according to WebMD.

“Too little sleep may cause: memory problems, depression, a weakening of [a person’s] immune system—increasing [their] chance of becoming sick—and an increase in perception of pain,” as also stated on the website.

The sleep tracking function allows consumers to not only make sure they get enough sleep but can also make the user aware of lack of a good night’s sleep.

A wireless base station is included to receive data from the Flex and also charge its battery. When the device is connected to a computer the base station will upload data to the Fitbit.

The Fitbit Flex is available for preorder on the product’s website in black and slate for $99.95. Additional colors—teal, tangerine and navy—will be available in the spring, when the Flex is commercially released.

The Fitbit Flex is similar to the Fitbit Classic, which was first device released by Fitbit. The Classic clipped onto the user’s pocket, whereas the Flex is worn on the wrist. Although no longer available on the Fitbit website, consumers can purchase the Classic on Amazon for $99.95.

Other Fitbit Products: Ultra, One and Zip

The Fitbit Ultra was the first hardware upgrade after the Classic was released. Its new features included an altimeter to measure elevation gain in relation to floors climbed. A stopwatch was added to time the user’s activities.

To improve upon the Ultra, the Fitbit One was developed. Some new features include the silent sleep alarm. The user slips the band around their arm and it gently vibrates to wake them without disturbing anyone else. The Fitbit One also analyzes the user’s sleep patterns and gives them tips on how to improve them. It is available on the Fitbit website for $99.95.

Nvate Fitbit flex, ultra, one, zip and aria weight loss pedometer

This is the Fitbit Zip. It measures steps taken, distance and calories burned. Credit: Fitbit

The Fibit Zip was released along with the Fitbit One. Besides their release date, these products have one other thing in common because they were the first two wireless activity trackers to sync using Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart technology.

The Fitbit Zip is roughly the size of a quarter and tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. In an article on About.com, Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke conducted a pedometer study that showed the variation between the steps men and women take in a single day. Men took an average of 7,192 steps a day, while women were taking an average 5,210 steps. According to Tudor-Locke, a person should add 2,000 to 3,000 steps to these numbers to get the amount needed.

The Zip is the first Fitbit tracker to include a disposable battery and is available for $59.95 on the Fitbit website.

Fitbit Aria: The Smart Scale

In April 2012, Fitbit released a “Wi-Fi Smart” scale. It measures weight, body mass index, and the user’s percentage of body fat. BMI is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. It provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. The Aria can keep track of eight individual users and updates information to Fitbit automatically. The Aria is available on the Fitbit website for $129.95.

The Fitbit Community

Aside from purchasing their products, Fibit’s website is also a community. Users can share their progress with others, start meal plans, and organize the progress they have made. Badges are also awarded for goals such as “longest distance” and “most steps.” The website is free, and users do not need a Fitbit device to use the site. However, to download progress data onto other devices the user needs a premium membership. Premium membership costs $49 a year.

With all the technology at our disposal, we now have many options in how we choose to lose weight. There are even more things on the market, some geared toward fitness and some not. Remember the consumer should always research the product before trying something new. Whether it is fitness equipment, pills, or shakes, always research and see which works for you.

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