Step Two: Learning Simple Exercise & Movement Habits

(If you haven’t read this post about my journey to physical health, it’s a great primer to this post, especially if you want to offer feedback.)

Step One was starting the journey and I have done so with Nutrition. I’ve got Weight Watchers going and starting to eat more mindfully and learning what foods I can budget for daily weight loss (and then maintenance).

Step Two is layering in exercise and movement habits as elephant bites in my journey to sustainable physical health.

So that leads me to fitness, movement tracking devices and watches like Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin and the like, in order to learn good, new habits and assist me in tracking all of that.

I’ve been using my iPhone’s Health App to track my steps until now, but I’m realizing it’s not very accurate. I also realize I’d like to be automatically recording my pulse too and other features I’ve found in these specialized devices.

Two Keys to Wearing A Device Long Term

Here are the two big keys I’ve noticed about wearing jewelry or bands of any kind (and yes, obstacles to wearing a device long term):

Comfort & Style — Historically, I’ve never been good at wearing watches or other jewelry. They’ve either caused irritations to my skin or just simply aren’t comfortable.

But in addition to my wedding ring, I’ve worn a bracelet that my wife Lindsey got me 7 years ago every day … some days I even forget it’s on.

I rarely take it off. It feels a part of me now. And it’s fashionable.

Since I don’t want to take this off, or rarely, I want it to be stylish enough for when I’m in a meeting or giving a talk. For my sense of  style, I LOVE almost any watch Nixon makes.

Never, Or Rarely, Taking It Off — my wedding ring and bracelet are of course comfortable AND water proof. So I never take them off … and that’s an absolute key in this. Something needs to be waterproof, have a LONG battery life, etc. If I take it off, the incidence of not wearing it goes up dramatically for me.

A couple years ago she got me my favorite watch ever, a Nixon, and I love it. However I don’t wear it every day because it clinks against my Apple laptop (yes, I could get a new band). Otherwise I’d wear it every day. But I realize having to take it off means I often forget it’s there. So unless I remember to wear it on trips (like I did last weekend) I’ll forget it and it collects dust.

What This is Really About

The goal again is for this to be a tool to learn how to live a sustainably healthy life. (You can see my post here as a primer on that.)

It’s not to be an expensive fancy tech gadget that I end up not using. I’ve got enough of those already.

I envision this tool being a long-term part of my life.

My Fitness Tracker Wish List

So based on some things I know about myself and having tested the bracelet and watch as well as looking at some options, here are what I think the essential are for having some kind of wrist fitness tracker:

  • Automatic and accurate step count recording — this is the baseline and most essential. I don’t think I’m getting accurate recording from my iPhone’s Health app, although it does sync with Weight Watchers.
  • Automatic and accurate pulse rate recording — this is included in most of the devices I’ve seen and I want to monitor that as it relates to my heart health. It’s definitely a top priority for me.
  • Automatic and accurate sleep recording — another thing I hadn’t contemplated before looking at what’s out there. And pairs with getting a sleep study soon.
  • Ease of use — thinking a screen output would be better than having to find my iPhone to see more details than the Fitbit Flex 2 type ones. But it also means I don’t have to have every crazy random feature (i.e. Apple Watch)
  • Nylon wrist strap and interchangeables ones — I think it’ll help me with my keyboard clanging issue with my Nixon and also water proof and comfortable (but need to test this)
  • Water resistant — so I don’t have to take it off when I shower (again, I want it wear it as often as possible and not forget to wear it). Some of the options, though, I’ve seen mean I can’t take it in the shower.
  • Long battery life — when I had a FitBit I’d charge it randomly and then forget to put it back one.
  • Automatic syncing with iPhone and for now, Weight Watchers
  • Stylish — I want it to look good. This is why I’m leaning toward a watch, than a wrist band, although I’ve used a Fitbit before and don’t mind them.
  • Price — I want to stay in the $200 or below range. But maybe that’s not possible with my wish list.
  • Clock — although I use my iPhone habitually for knowing the time when I’m out, I’d love to have one on my wrist instead. This would be a double benefit for me: it tracks movement and also looks and acts like a watch. I’ve found I like wearing a watch. I originally put this in the “nice to haves” category, but have decided after writing this it’s more essential to my long-term use of it.
  • Reminders — most of the devices mention some kind of silent alarms to move. Again, I originally put this in the “nice to haves” category, but the more I think about it, I like having the prompts/reminders that I can also turn off. The main reason for this is to help me develop routines and habits of MOVING and not sitting idle.

Nice to have:

  • Customizable and multiple displays
  • Two Factor Authentication
  • Guided Breathing apps/reminders

Things I don’t think I care about:

  • Music
  • Text and call alerts — this is the main reason I didn’t care about getting an Apple Watch when it came about. I’m distracted enough as it is. I don’t need to wear it on my wrist.
  • Calendar Alerts

With all this in mind, I’m leaning toward a watch — particularly the Apple Watch, currently however I’m not settled. I have also looked at the Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Surge and even Garmin’s vívomove (super cool looking watch but not all I’m looking for I think).

Would Love Your Help Here

HOWEVER … I’m really looking for thoughts, and more importantly tips and tricks with the above context in mind. So please make a comment below if you have some of those for me.

What’d I miss?

Knowing some of the battery issues with all these devices, what are your workarounds (one person suggested taking off for the shower and charging then), hacks for all of this? Do you have Pros and Cons about the particular device you use?


Get New Posts By Email

9 responses to “Step Two: Learning Simple Exercise & Movement Habits”

  1. I have the FitBit Charge2 and really like it. I take it off at my computer when I know I’m going to be working for a bit and not moving around…it charges pretty quick. It gives good insights on heart rate and sleeping quality, which I like. Syncs with my favorite app to use for tracking calories ( and, best of all, we have a company team at where we have a team of people in our company who challenge each other on a daily basis to get up and move.

    That last item is probably the best part about it.

    the Charge2 isn’t waterproof though – which is something I wish I had cared about more when I bought it because I can’t wear my fitbit to track the laps I do in the pool.

    Other than that, I like it. Barely notice its there – – and it’s pink. 🙂

    1. The best part about it is something that I’ve been realizing more and more … I realize that doing entrepreneurship in community is WAY BETTER … and somehow forgot to apply it to this monumental journey.

      Thanks, LSW! I want a Fitbit now just so I can be on your team. 🙂

      1. +1 for Fitbit. I also have a Charge2 and love it. One of the top features for me was long battery life. I had a Microsoft Band for awhile, but had to charge it daily and the reality is I just couldn’t keep the damn thing charged. The Charge2 will last about a week with heavy usage, and it charges very fast, which is awesome

        In terms of software I think Fitbit is above and beyond anything else out there. The mobile app and online dashboard are really awesome with detailed stats on everything.

        1. OK, I’m totally seeing how Fitbit software is better than others. That’s really compelling and a real strength. I want to be able to view the data and make notes.

          Thanks for this, Brad.

  2. I love my FitBit Surge but you can’t swap the wrist bands and the wrist bands have issues bubbling up (google it). If you can live with the bubbling & the wrist band it’s great. If not definitely consider the Apple Watch.

    1. Thank you my friend!

  3. I have a Fitbit Flex 2, which doesn’t meet your requirements in many ways but as a runner/cyclist/climber/athlete for 20+ years a few notes.

    – Nothing will be as accurate in heart rate as a chest strap. All you can expect from an optical wrist based HR monitor is that it’s always accurate with itself. So it doesn’t read 90bpm one day and 100 the next for the same actual heart rate

    – The same caveat for step counting and sleep counting. The only way to measure steps properly and fully accurate is a foot pod device. The only way to measure sleep properly is with some fancy headband thing that reads your brain activity.

    That said, I’ve loved my Fitbit for its sleep tracking. Yes, some night’s it’s totally wrong, but in general, it got me moving from barely 6 hours a night to around 7 hours on average.

    Worth a consideration is the Suunto Spartan HR line. They are above your price point but look fairly nice and have decent HR performance. You’ll need to charge it around once a week but on my Suunto Ambit3 Peak I get about 1% a minute charging, so it’s fast. That would have the added benefit of working with a chest based HR monitor for working out and provide GPS tracks of runs/activities with much better detail than any of the other options you’ve suggested.

    Another expensive option would be the Garmin Fenix 5 (I think which ever the highest is). Same stuff as the Suunto.

    1. Wow – thank you for this, Curtis. I’m checking out the watches you mentioned.

  4. I switched from a Fitbit Charge HR+ to a Garmin Vivosmart HR+, because my Fitbit got killed by a single wave at the beach, despite being “water resistant”.

    The Garmin is waterproof, so I can wear it swimming, in the shower, at the lake, etc. and never worry about it. The battery life is also pretty impressive. It has move reminders, and I like that it has GPS for accurate tracking when I’m biking. I’m very happy with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *