A Review of the FitBit Flex

Before we begin, here are some stats and information for the FitBit Flex: https://www.fitbit.com/flex

FitBit

My Review of the FitBit Flex (as requested by Ally and Lindsey):

The good:
Ease of use –
You can adjust your daily step goals at any time. Straight out of the package it is set for a goal of 10,000 steps a day which is about 4 miles for my little gait. I took mine down to 8,000 steps per day, because I found that 10,000 steps is pretty hard to get working a 9 – 5 desk job. But then again, isn’t that the whole point; to challenge you to walk more?…
Motivation – 
The FitBit certainly does make me want to walk more, and I say this as someone who is already pretty active. It makes me consider parking further away, taking the stairs, going the long routes when I walk around the office, etc. It’s even inspired a few evening walks after work, because I was so close to hitting my goal, and I just needed a few more steps to get there.
Novelty –
It tells you a lot of interesting things. Here’s what is displayed on your dashboard: (1) how many steps you took that day, (2) how many miles you walked based on your steps (3) how many calories you burned based on your age, height, weight, and steps for the day, (4) total active minutes for the day, (5) how many times you were restless during the night, (6) how many times you were awake during the night, and (7) how many hours and minutes of quality sleep you got that night. So, if you take everything with a grain of salt and realize that each measurement has inaccuracies and draw-backs (more on this below), it gives some pretty interesting stats to look at.
Aesthetics –
It comes in a wide range of colors. The one I received for free is black, and every time I’m on the website I consider buying like 3 more bands in different colors, so they’re doing that part right for sure.
Convenience –
The FitBit is water resistant. That’s pretty awesome, because it means you basically never have to take it off except to charge it. And, speaking of charging, mine has held a charge for 5-7 full days since I got it about a month ago. Not bad.
Hardware –
I’ve had no trouble with syncing or charging since getting my FitBit. These were the biggest complaints I saw in reviews when I was considering buying one, and though my FitBit is only one of many, it has not had any of these rumored issues.
Syncing with other apps –
This is my favorite thing about the FitBit. I can sync it with MyFitnessPal and various other applications, and the data is shared between them. It saves me a lot of tedious steps logging the information from the FitBit into MyFitnessPal and vice versa.


The bad:
Limitations –
First and foremost, the FitBit is NOT intended for weightlifting, and as such, it does an incredibly poor job of registering weight lifting as activity or as calories burned. What you really need for this sort of thing is a heart rate monitor which usually looks more like a watch and has a lot more functionality:

FitBit2

Display –
The display on the wrist band consists of a total of 5 bubbles that all light up once you’ve reached your step goal for the day, and each bubble represents 20% of the total goal completed. It’s quite annoying that it doesn’t actually TELL  you how many steps you’re at for the day but rather just has you guess based on how many bubbles are showing. And, I constantly find myself wishing it displayed the time. because wearing a watch AND a FitBit is just too bulky.
Accuracy
Okay, so as far as the actual pedometer goes, I don’t find it to be wildly accurate. I tested it once by waiting for everything to sync before getting up and walking 500 steps. Then I came back, let it sync again, and figured out how many steps the FitBit had awarded me for what I counted as 500… It gave me something like 2,000. It was so off that I didn’t even bother remembering the exacts. I can’t speak to how commonly this inaccuracy occurs as I’ve only legitimately measured it the once. **NOTE: Even though the FitBit may be inaccurate when counting steps, it is consistently inaccurate, and that allows you to set baselines and form comparisons from day to day.
> More pedometer inaccuracy: I spent 30 minutes in the gym today doing cardio. I was walking on the treadmill and holding onto the handles for 16 minutes, and I was on the elliptical for 12 minutes. My FitBit registered almost NONE of the activity from my time in the gym.
> Sleep tracker inaccuracy: so the way this thing works is essentially that it measures your movements when its in “sleep mode.” It then takes those movements to mean that you’re restless, and restlessness decreases the amount of “quality sleep” it tells you that you got. However, just because you’re moving in your sleep doesn’t mean that you’re not getting quality sleep. My FitBit tells me that I’m restless about 23 times a night (as compared to closer to 10 for other people I’ve heard from), and it docks my quality sleep time significantly. The problem with this is that I AM getting quality sleep. I just move a lot! So, as neat as this function may be, it’s totally useless for me. *sigh*
> “Total active minutes” inaccuracy: This goes back to the point about the FitBit not being meant for weight lifting (or anything other than WALKING, really). If I walk to and from work one day, a total of 1.5 miles, I will earn about 30 minutes of “very active minutes.” However, if I spend an hour and a half lifting weights (certainly more strenuous than leisurely walking 1.5 miles) I will earn a total of ZERO “very active minutes.” So, in other words, the FitBit is super happy with you when you casually walk for any legitimate distance, but when it comes to real exercise, the FitBit doesn’t even register it.
> Calories burned accuracy: If I’m lifting weights for 60-90 minutes a day and the FitBit isn’t picking up that activity, then it’s essentially impossible for the “calories burned” count to be accurate. Again, what you need for this kind of measurement is a heart rate monitor.
Price –
Considering that the FitBit really is just a glorified pedometer, it’s hugely over-priced. It doesn’t actually DO that much. It measures movement. The end. And they want $99.95 for it, which comes to $108.20 after tax.

So, a FitBit Flex is for you if…
You want a general idea of how much you’re walking each day. That’s really all it’s going to do for you.

But, with that being said, I do enjoy having mine. My husband and I playfully compete each day, and it’s fun to see my stats change from day to day. I won’t buy another one for myself if the one I currently have dies, but I’m glad I got the chance to try it out for free. In fact, if/when this FitBit Flex dies, I’m going to replace it with a heart rate monitor, and then I can do a review of that for you all! 😉

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Pura vida and stay strong, Fit4Reviewers!

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