A tiny bit more gloating, and about that hourly activity tracker…

May 28, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 28, 2016

Author’s note: I updated a paragraph in this post on May 30, 2016. As usual, additions are marked with boldface text; deletions, with a strikethrough lineMEM 

On Tuesday evening, a few hours after publishing my previous blog post, I received a message from my niece, through her mother:

“[A—] says she just synched her Fitbit — in your face!!”

I checked the appropriate smartphone app and found that the youngster had indeed risen above me in the standings. But only by a little bit.

“Eh, maybe I’ll get her tomorrow!” I replied.

And for much of the ensuing week, I have. As I wrote on Tuesday, I’ll try to enjoy this brief moment of glory while it lasts.

I wanted to add a few notes about Fitbit. One reason is that the company issued an update around the start of April that enables wearers to track hourly activity. The smartphone app lets the user set a stretch of anywhere from five to 14 consecutive hours in a day when she or he expects to be active. (My stretch begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 10 p.m.) If the user takes at least 250 steps during a given hour, the app awards a deep-pink-colored dot for that time slot. If the user meets or surpasses activity criteria for every designated hour in the day, she or he is awarded one of the green stars with which the app marks a completed daily goal.

I’ve found this to be an excellent added incentive to move more during the day. Although I’ve never earned a green star for 14 active hours, I love notching eight or more dots per day.

Unfortunately, notification about hourly activity tracking achievements (or lack thereof) comes relies exclusively through on the smartphone app. This has changed my relationship with both my wearable tracker and my smartphone, and not necessarily for the better.

Over the roughly seven months that I’ve been using the Fitbit app, I’ve found it to be flukey. This is particularly true with the calorie tracking, which has gotten better over time but still seems to take an extra moment to adjust once new data has been entered.

That’s not the only aspect of the app that is a strangely finicky. Upon my Parental Unit’s return from a trip out west, P.U. complained about the step count (and counts of calories burned, miles walked, etc.) not properly resetting, possibly due to some confusion about time zones. I myself have sometimes noticed that the step count can jump back and forth a little bit when the tracker is synchronizing with the smartphone.

But the part of the app that works least well is definitely the aforementioned hourly activity tracking. Unless you know how many steps you started the hour with, there’s no way to know how close you are to reaching the 250-step mark. I know from prior observations that it takes me as little as two minutes of solid walking to take that number of steps; in reality, with the need to turn around in tight quarters and whatnot, and thanks to my getting distracted and needing to walk a bit more slowly lest I hit something or knock something over, it usually takes three to five minutes for me to walk 250 steps in one go.

So what you’ll often see me doing at the close of an hour, especially one in which I’ve been sedately sitting somewhere, is (a) pacing around a sidewalk or parking lot or wherever house I happen to be staying and (b) repeatedly calling up my Fitbit app, tapping on the hourly activity section and then tapping once more on the dots for the current day and (c) staring at the current hour’s dot until it turns deep pink.

This, dear reader, gets old kind of fast — and yet I find myself obsessively checking the hourly activity tracking at the end of an hour when I’m trying to convert the dot.

What’s even more annoying is that sometimes, if you haven’t been checking your progress each hour, the previous hour’s dots take a while to fill in. So occasionally I’ll check my phone and think, “Oh, I’ve had two or three hours when I didn’t hit my activity goal,” only to look 10 or 20 minutes later and find that the dots have become deep pink without my realizing it.

So here I am, railing about how inconvenient all these modern conveniences are. The truth is, I enjoy this gadget, it’s helped me become more active, and I’m down to about 184 pounds after having weighed nearly 200 in October.

Feh. Hopefully, Fitbit will polish its app and I’ll be able to track my hourly walking a bit more effectively. But if not, well, I guess I’ll live…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: