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Fitness Tracker

My Fitness Tracker is a Watch

October 12, 2014

Photo from October 12, 2014

I just looked at my watch and it’s nearly approaching 10:00 a.m.

My watch is supposed to be much more than that. That’s why I bought it.

My watch was supposed to do all sorts of things for me. It was supposed to track my activity, tell me when I’ve been sedentary too long, tell me how many calories I’ve burned in a day, what my heart rate is when I am exercising and how many more steps I need to take to achieve my daily step goal.

I bought my Garmin Vivofit ( It’s the spiffy looking teal band in the picture to the left. ) as tool in my weight loss toolbox, but much to my disappointment, for the most part it’s just a watch.

On the plus side, it does have what I now refer to as the “Red Bar of Inactivity.” A little red bar of dashes that gets longer and longer when I have been inactive for too long that reminds me to get up and get moving.

But as far as an activity tracker, then device is extremely inaccurate. I’ve had days I have run half marathons that it’s calculated at nearly 8 miles more than I actually ran. I’ve had days I ran 8 miles and it’s tracked me at over 13 miles.

When I was in Orlando for the RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon last October I had the opportunity to speak to a Garmin Vivofit representative at their booth at the Fitness Expo. I asked specifically about the alarming inaccuracy in distance and was told that the device wasn’t meant to track running, it was meant to track activity. Needless to say I tilted my head to the side for a moment.

As a Fitness Instructor and Weight Loss and Wellness Coach, I do understand the difference between exercise and activity, Activity is considered the little things we do in a day that put our body in motion. Motion of any kind creates a caloric burn. Our body expends energy with every step we take. Activity is walking from the car to the door, doing housework, window shopping at the mall. Exercise is when we purposely get our heart rates into much higher zones to burn calories. It’s our time on a treadmill or elliptical, an hour of a step or kickboxing class.

Now if I had known that the Garmin VivoFit was only intended to monitor low intensity activity I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. When a device has a heart rate monitoring feature and asks me to spend even more money purchasing the additional heart rate strap that allows it to monitor my heart rate I expect it to utilize that information a bit more efficiently.

Let’s just be blunt here. If I am going to go the trouble of strapping a heart rate monitor under my chest which is the equivalent to me of wearing a small-scale torture device, I expect it to actually ascertain my heart rate and use that information to decide how vigorous my activity is and how many calories I am burning. The VivoFit does’t even really give me a true heart rate reading. If I set the screen to display my heart rate I get a reading of 0 – XXX where the end number is the highest heart rate it’s registering at that given time.

Last week I was doing a H.I.T.T. training workout on a treadmill where my heart rate was well into the 170s at times and it never registered my heart rate above 70.

According to the Garmin website the VivoFit “You can also pair vívofit 2 with a heart rate monitor during fitness activities, such as a run or a cardio class at the gym, to record your heart rate and zone data and get more accurate calorie burn information.”

Sorry, I’m not believing them.

The distance discrepancies on my device while annoying are also understandable. Everyone has a very different stride when they run. Many devices ask you to set your stride, the distance you take between each step in order to more accurately calculate your total distance. If there was a way to change that setting or actually calibrate the VivoFit it would probably be more accurate, but it failed to provide that feature.

So if my heart rate is being calculated wrong and my distance throughout the day is completely inaccurate, then I can pretty much bet that the daily step goal as well as the daily calorie burn count is also incorrect and thus when I look down at the $130 dollar device on my wrist and wear that $60 heart rate band, my first thought is, “I spent $190.00 on a watch that tells me when I’ve been sitting down for too long.”

All in all, if I wanted a device that told me the time and reminded me to get up and move I would have set movement reminder alarms on my smart phone and called it good. Lucky for me I bought mine at REI who let’s you exchange any purchase you’re not happy with within a year of purchasing it so hopefully I can find the packaging it came in and take it and trade it in for something more along the lines of what I was looking for and not a product that bills itself as an activity and fitness tracker and ends up being a decorative watch on my wrist.

 

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 Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker and currently works as a Fitness Leader, Weight Loss and Wellness Coach in Wilmington, NC
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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