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App Review: Fitbit Flex

fitbit app icon

Depending on what kind of boat you work on, exercise is either par for the course or really difficult to fit in. The same goes for sleep; some boats manage downtime better than others. It's all very well keeping a log of your exercise, but are you counting the hundreds of steps up and down to the sun deck? Are you able to track the efficiency of your sleep or use a silent alarm so as not to wake your grumpy cabin mate? The fitbit flex allows all of these things.


What is fitbit flex?

The fitbit flex is one of a few new pieces of wearable technology that have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. It consists of a soft flexible band-style bracelet made of rubber, and a chip with slots into the band. The chip then tracks your movement to deduce whether you're moving enough throughout the day. It tracks:

-steps taken

-distance travelled

-calories burned*

-active minutes

-hours slept

-quality of sleep

*It bases the calorie calculations on the data you provide about your height, weight and age to determine more accurate numbers.

 fitbit flex colours4

 

You can choose to target steps, calories or distance. The wristband has a display with five LEDs, each one representing 20% of your goal. When you reach your goal, Flex will celebrate by buzzing and flashing its lights. To accompany the bracelet there's an app which connects to your smartphone or computer (bluetooth usb included). When you log in it has a simple interface displaying all the rest of your data. Here you can edit goals, tot up what you're eating and measure your sleep.

How does the sleep tracker work?

Tell your app when you're off to bed and when you wake up (or simply tap your wristband quickly for a couple of seconds) and during your break or night time you'll know how many times you woke up, how deeply you slept and you can even set a half an hour time slot for it to gently wake you up with silent vibrations through the band. It tracks your movements and indicates whether you were restless or awake based on the frequency and extremity of the movements. There are two modes available - sensitive or normal, sensitive is recommended for anyone with sleep disorders, or those who would like to wear their tracker somewhere other than their wrist.

 fitbit

And it wakes me up nicely too?

With this feature you use the app to set your alarms (up to 8 at once), and instead of an annoying little tune being the first thing you hear, you'll hear nothing! Instead light pulses will vibrate on your wrist gently rousing you from dreamland. It repeats three times unless you dismiss it by tapping your band, and if you miss it, it will alert you again in 9 minutes time. This is completely silent meaning you'll have a happy cabin mate who doesn't want to throw your phone overboard after you 'snoozing' your alarm too many times!

It's called a fitbit - will it make me fit?

We all know there's no gadget that will do it for you, but seeing your progress and knowing exactly how much you have (or haven't) done is very motivating. It automatically counts your movement but you can also add any exercise (gym, yoga, weights etc) and it'll add the calories from those up for you too. Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain weight, or just be more active, the fitbit has all the data to keep you informed.

If you already use an app to log your exercise or food you may be in luck as the fitbit app is compatible with 40 different apps:

I've only tried one of them so far, but the syncing worked seamlessly. Well worth a go.

 fitbit screenshot


Food Data

Although the fitbit app has its own food catalogue, it's not as in depth as some of the apps it's compatible with. It has a US and a French library but no UK library (although they claim to be working on it). If you can find substitutes from the other country catalogues, it's totally sufficient to keep a record of your intake vs output of calories. Along with this it also has a feature to measure your water intake, which is extremely important for those who work out in the sun all day. With just two taps you can add a standard bottle or glass, or a custom measurement if you so wish.

 

fitbit all colours2


Make it interesting

On a boat you're surrounded by the same people day in, day out for a long challenging season, which I think is a great opportunity to encourage each other to be healthier and fitter (you can pause on your days off). If you can persuade another crew member to get a fitbit too, you can compete through the app to hit your goals. Perhaps even set up incentives for the first one to reach them? Distractions are key when your only focus is work, this can make all the running around seem worthwhile even on a personal level. Whilst there are always people who feel no need to know in depth information about their activity, for some, having that data gives the extra little push.

 

 badge appstore lrg11google play badge4

 

Visit the Fitbit website here


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