I bought a Fitbit Charge HR last year and it was one of the best purchases I have ever made. I had been using apps on my phone to track activity and record sleep in a bid to feel better about the amount of exercise I was doing and find out how much sleep I was achieving each night. It wasn’t until I got the Fitbit that I started to recognise the patterns between flares and exercise, the quantity of movement I was doing in relation to how tired I felt, and the number of hours sleep I was actually getting.
I have found the Fitbit incredibly useful for learning more about my body, my capabilities and how exercise and sleep quality affects me and my Fibromyalgia. So much so that I actually am quite obsessed with monitoring what I am doing and hate to leave the house without my Fitbit on my wrist.
Here are the four things I love most about my Fitbit:
1. It Motivates Me to Move More
When you set up your Fitbit, you can set your own daily activity goals. I have set my step goal to 10,000, the distance to 4 miles, the calories burned to 3000, floors climbed to 20 and the active minutes to 30. This is a manageable set of goals at the moment, although that wasn’t always the case. In addition, Fitbit recently introduced the Hourly Activity, which helps you to move at least 250 steps every hour; stopping you from being sedentary for long periods of time.
My main goal is my step count. I am able to see at a glance how much I have done and how much more I need to do each day. I am able to see if I am doing too much, when I am feeling tired or sore I can see if too much activity is contributing. When I reach 10,000 steps, there is a moment of pure joy when the Fitbit vibrates to let you know.
2. It Accurately Tracks my Sleep
A good night’s sleep is often unachievable for someone with Fibromyalgia. I struggle to get to sleep and then I wake up a lot throughout the night. Tracking sleep, monitoring patterns and understanding how rested by body should be, helps me to make good decisions about what I can manage to do that day and what I might not be able to.
I have my goal set to 7 hours sleep per night, though it is very rare that I achieve that much sleep, it’s usually more like 3-5 hours.
3. It Monitors my Heart Rate
Post-exertion malaise is a severe fatigue that happens when you do too much. With Fibromyalgia, any exertion can bring this on and it is often the reason people with Fibromyalgia don’t exercise as much as they perhaps should. One of the main triggers for this malaise is your heart rate exceeding a certain threshold. That threshold is usually around 60% of your maximum heart rate.
To calculate your maximum heart rate you need to carry out the following calculation:
220 - [your age]
So for me, my maximum heart rate would be:
220 - 38 = 182
To calculate your threshold with Fibromyalgia it would be:
220 - [your age] x 0.60
So for me my threshold with Fibromyalgia would be:
220-38 x 0.60 = 109.2
Once you realise how low your heart rate can be before you exceed your threshold, you start to really understand why the exercise you are trying to do makes you feel so tired. It also explains why things like yoga or pilates are popular with people with Fibromyalgia, because those activities do not raise the heart rate as quickly as a jog or an hour in the gym.
Everyone is different and so knowing what you can do before you reach can be difficult. Some people could be pushed over the threshold by climbing a flight of stairs, lifting up a child or hoovering the house. This is where the Fitbit really is invaluable. I can now see if my heart rate is reaching its threshold and I can reduce the activity level to one that my body can handle. I am able to stay under my heart rate threshold and in turn, I am able to increase the time I am exercising for. This was the feature that made me pick the Charge HR over other models and is the thing I monitor most closely.
4. You Get Badges
Everyone loves to be given an award and congratulated for their successes and the Fitbit badges are pretty addictive. When you achieve a certain level with your Fitbit you are rewarded with a beautiful badge that describes how far you have walked or how many flights of stairs you have traveled.
Currently, my top badges are:
- High Tops – 20,000 Steps in one day.
- New Zealand – 990 lifetime miles [or the entire length of New Zealand]
- Lighthouse – 50 floors in a day
- 747 – 4000 lifetime floors
Rewarding activity in this simple way does encourage me to move a lot more than I would if I didn’t have my Fitbit with me all of the time. I am a sucker for a certificate or a badge that proves awesome I am. 🙂
So there you have it, 4 reasons I wouldn’t be without my Fitbit. Do you own a Fitbit or do you think a Fitbit is just for ‘normal’ people and not us Fibromites? How do you think a Fitbit could help you to exercise, despite your Fibromyalgia?