I have thought about getting a fitness tracker for a long time, well over a year. I’ve looked at them Amazon, went looking in stores while I was in Canada last year and kept my eye open any time I’ve been in an electronics store in Panama. SU just returned from a couple of weeks in Canada, and he decided that it was time for me to stop procrastinating and he bought me a Fitbit Alta, presenting it to me upon his return last week.
Introduced in 2008, FitBit is an activity tracker that is designed to help people become more active, eat and support a better diet, sleep better and eventually, turn folks into healthier human beings. Fitbit Alta is one of the newest and stylish iterations of the brand and although it does not have all the bells and whistles of some of the types I was looking at, I’m enjoying playing with it and seeing what it can do. I had fallen off the exercise wagon again and in the short time I have had it, I have already become more active. I control my Alta by tapping its screen; a double-tap wakes it, or I turn my wrist toward me. A series of single-taps rotates the screens to display active minutes, distance, calories, steps taken, etc.
What I Like About the Alta
First, let me tell you what I like about it. As mentioned, it gets me up off my butt and walking around more than I normally would. When I am studying, reading or writing, I have a tendency to lose track of time. The gentle vibration on the band and the encouragement to complete 250 steps an hour is all I need to remind me to get up and move. Every 50 minutes, the Alta buzzes and gives me messages like, “Feed me 52 steps!” or “Only 8 more steps to go!” or “Take 226 steps to win the hour!” It also tells me how much sleep I get and although I have read on some sites that it is not very precise in that respect, my Alta seems right thus far. It has told me how long I slept, how many times I got up in the night and how many restless periods I have had. I also have the app downloaded to my computer, my Windows phone, and my Kindle. I did not have any troubling synchronizing the Alta it uses Bluetooth on the phone and Kindle and a toggle on the computer to send the information from the band. I have found the easiest app to use the one on the Kindle because it seems to sync faster. My phone, although Windows-based, takes a couple of minutes to sync and refresh and the computer, well, that just means opening it up and getting it going, so it also takes a little more time to use. I have also been tracking my food and water intake, and I like that I can do it all right in the Fitbit app. The battery has not needed recharging thus far, and as I understand, it could last from five to seven days without a recharge. That is a bonus when you have three or four other items that are in constant need of recharging. I also like the design of the band and it is light and comfortable. As a person who has a nickel allergy, I have not had any issues with it thus far. I did take it off this morning to give it a wipe as I do live in a moist environment; the temperature some days is reading almost 35° today with 78% humidity.
What I Don’t Like About the Alta
As one who is new to this fitness band thing, there only a few things I have discovered thus far that I do not like. One is the water tracker, it is available in the app, but there is not a reminder available on the band. Much to my friends’ and SU’s consternation I will continue using the water reminder on my phone and track my consumption on the Fitbit app. The other is that the band is not waterproof, although I have worn it in the shower, and I did wear it in the pool the other day, I guess I should not have. Alta is impervious to splashes, rain, and sweat, but the instructions say to take it off before jumping into the pool or showering. Oops, I have showered with it and even shampoo my hair. Taking it off might be a hazard for me as I have a tendency to forget even my purse when I go out so I will have to put it somewhere for safekeeping when I remove it. I also met a problem when I put it on, but I think I have figured it out now. There are holes punched in the wristband and little pins that fit to secure it on one’s wrist. SU and I had a heck of a time getting it on me, but I have since read that if you use a little olive oil and put the pins in the holes a few times they loosen up. As mentioned, I did take it off and managed to get it back on myself with little effort. The Alta does send an alert when a text or phone call comes in, but it does not work with other applications such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, which are my primary messaging apps, that is unfortunate, but not a deal breaker. It is a fitness tracker after all and not a Smart Watch.
I have owned a Garmin Forerunner back in the day before the fitness tracker, or maybe one can call it the first activity tracker. I enjoyed using it, and I think I will enjoy discovering what my first activity tracker can do. I am hoping to become more aware of my body and fitness level and to be active. I already see that my Alta brings awareness to my behaviour and patterns…in the campo.