Fitness Trackers

By Kundai Chihambakwe

There are an estimated 20 million fitness tracker users across the world. These devices can measure everything from calories burned, to number of steps taken each day, to heart rate monitoring, to sleep duration and quality to name a few, all in real-time to varying degrees of accuracy. I spoke to mix of five Hararians with different sporting interests and fitness goals about their trackers.

“So, you’re going for a meeting on the 2nd floor of a building and the elevator’s not working so you decide to take the stairs. When you get there you’re breathing so heavily and the truth hits you: you need to make a change. It was from here that I decided to get a Fitbit Charge2 to help me. I roped in my wife to make it something we did together #CoupleThings

It was awesome knowing what our heart rate was at any point in time and knowing how many steps we took every day. The biggest lifestyle change that the Fitbit brought about was making me more conscious about being active. I started jogging three times a week, making more of an effort to walk to places versus always driving. It was great setting a target and working to achieve it, playing 18 holes also didn’t hurt because it boosted my steps for the day. I have been able to look at my sleep patterns, input and track my meals and how much water I was drinking- what’s not to love?

I adore my Fitbit and love being challenged every day to stay active. It’s a really good tool if you need an aid to stay fit and it can really be quite addictive. It may not be for everyone, but at least try, you may be pleasantly surprised.” -Tash

“My running journey began six years ago and my tech journey began shortly thereafter. As I wanted to log my distances, my first Garmin was a Forerunner 10. This model has a four-hour battery life and wasn’t quite enough to track my runs as they become longer as I ventured into marathon distances. I then upgraded to a Forerunner 15 which had longer battery life when my GPS tracking was on. However, it wasn’t quite long enough for ultra-running. 

Garmin 235

I love that Garmin devices are so easy to use, and I have now upgraded to the Garmin 235. This model has longer battery life (it says up to 11 hours) when my GPS is enabled. The true test of how long it lasts will be when I run my first Comrades in June (this iconic 87km road run is run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban annually).

The 235 has a heart rate monitor and when bluetooth is enabled, my runs connect to an app on my phone and it tracks a number of stats including my daily and monthly mileage, heart rate, steps, and much much more.” – Julie

“I didn’t choose the fitness tracker life, it chose me. Mine came as a gift in the form of a Fitbit Flex2 in a little gift bag accompanied by a charging cable and four coloured bands for me to ‘switch up my look’. I liked that it isn’t a smart watch, is slim and simple in design and made of a durable and waterproof material.

For me it has had a great battery life of about six days, so recharging is not tedious. Like many of you, I work at a predominantly sedentary job, so by just starting to track my steps I was able to see the injustice I have been doing to my body by living the car to desk to car to couch life. Since incorporating my Flex2 into my life, I have now progressed to a daily target of 12 000 steps and seen improvements in my jogging pace.

The weekly progress report is great motivation and it is encouraging when you have earned a badge (which comes with fun facts) for something. The silent vibrating alarm to move and wake-up/go to bed is less intrusive than a phone alarm and it’s always right there with you. This fitness tracker has been a simple tool to use to start my ongoing fitness journey.” – Nicole

“Having been in the field of Athletics for many years, I have certainly tried a number of fitness trackers on the market and at the moment I feel that my Garmin Forerunner 235 is a winner for me.

It has battery life of up to 11 hours on GPS which fits in perfectly for my long distance running lifestyle. I have completed four Comrades Marathons, four Two Oceans Marathons and three Iron Mans amongst others, so battery life is critical. It has an auto pause function which is absolutely amazing as a lot of times when you are running and pause your fitness tracker in order to re-tie your shoe laces, a majority of times you forget to press resume and only realise that later. However, with this device, once set, it does it all for you. It is light-weight with comfortable wrist straps which makes it great for wearing everyday.

As a smart watch, it has more onscreen interactive features than other trackers. It is simple to get reminders and see your personal records right on the screen. Another impressive feature of this device is Glonnass (the Russian GPS satellite alternative) which allows me to pick up signal within seconds despite the weather conditions, unlike the other smart watches on the market which can take several minutes to connect.” -Laki

“You can always tell how unfit you are when you have to something you don’t always do. For me this was when I had to carry some buckets of water up our stairs. So when my husband suggested we get Fitbits to help track our movements and to motivate us to be more active I was all in! Mine is a Fitbit Alta.

Fitbit Alta

It started off fun, we would even have little daily competitions of who was getting in more steps and checking if our resting heart rates were improving. But over time I realised that because I work such a sedentary job I wasn’t getting in many steps. I started feeling the pressure to ‘be as active’ as my husband. This eventually lead me to deciding that I had had enough of the comparisons and statistics and instead I was going to focus on being a bit more active but without the pressure to live the 10 000 steps a day life. I stopped wearing my Fitbit much to my husband’s disappointment.

By no means am I saying I stopped being active but I guess I just stopped the extreme tracking. I still find ways to get in the steps like some walks to our nearby park, a little Saturday gardening and heavy pot plant lifting and so on and we still keep each other accountable to be more active.” – Shu

If you don’t already have a fitness tracker, why not look at purchasing one that suits your needs and pocket and get that extra bit of motivation and feedback on your journey of holistic wellbeing. You can then use them during one or more of the regular activities we have listed over the page.

Photographs provided by Kundai Chihambakwe

Originally Published in 110th issue of Ndeipi Magazine.

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