My first year’s fitness-tracker stats: it works, I’ve massively upped my game

On 22 February 2015 Mrs MSE gave me a Fitbit Charge HR. I’d already had a Misfit for a while, but it was one you just clipped on, with no display. So I hadn’t got that into it. Now I’m a year in with the FItbit, I thought it would be useful to quickly compile my observations and stats. 

The hype is true – for me at least – wearing a fitness tracker has made me change my lifestyle. While I’ve always exercised, especially running, I’ve upped that a touch too. The real difference is to the activity I do when not exercising. I have hugely increased the amount I walk – I now try to avoid cars whenever I can. And that was before the app that pays you for steps launched.

And yes I’m obsessed by hitting my 10,000 steps target (for those who don’t use trackers, a step isn’t a ‘going upstairs’ step; it’s a step while walking, running, and going upstairs).

I’ve now managed to do it every day, without fail, since 20 September – including ill days and even a minor operation, which I scheduled so I’d hit my steps. And I must admit, occasionally at the end of the day if I haven’t hit target I do walk around the living room until I’m there!

Contrast that to my first week where I only made target on four of the seven days. I also remember at the time thinking that was much more activity than I had been doing.

As the chart shows, my step numbers increased quickly and rapidly almost from the get-go. When I first started, 90,000 steps in a week was something I was happy with. Yet as time has gone on, I get more ambitious: now anything less than 110,000 would be very disappointing. 

My first-year fitness-tracker stats
Steps Kilometres (1)
Total Daily average Total Daily average
Annual 6,351,324  17,400 5,065 13.8
First 7 days 81,182 11,600 65 9.2
First 31 days 406,445 13,100 317 10.2
Best calendar month 631,104 20,358 515 16.5
Best calendar week 200,202 28,600 183 26.2
Best day 38,953 38,953 36.6 36.6
Last 31 days  609,018 19,645 554 17.8
Longest consecutive period hitting 10,000 steps a day: 5mths+ (20 Sept to today)
(1)     These aren’t necessarily the same “best” week or month as for steps. Bigger kilometre weeks tend to be those when I’ve run more. But you do fewer steps running a kilometre than walking so it doesn’t always equate.

It’s had an impact on my health, too. I’m eight pounds lighter than when I started, which is a mix of this and giving up coffee (I have milky coffee and had far too many).

I should say at this point I am aware that the steps aren’t 100% accurate, in fact you can watch Mrs MSE’s wearing four different trackers for a week to see how inaccurate they are. Yet that doesn’t matter. I compete with myself based on the same metrics – number of steps in a day.

Ultimately fitness trackers won’t work for everyone. I think to make use of them you have to become focused on them. That’s something I enjoy, but if you see it as a chore it just won’t work.

Though for someone like me, with an obsessional and competitive personality, especially if it involves stats, allowing that to fixate on something that makes you healthy is great.   
Now the key is to beat those stats in the next 12 months!

Which fitness tracker to get

Please don’t read the fact that I have a Fitbit as a recommendation. I do like it, especially the buzz it makes when I hit 10,000 steps – which I now seem to be conditioned to, like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

Yet this is all about look, taste and preference; here are a few quick tips, then see the MSE cheap fitness-tracker guide for price info.

– Those with a display that you can view without syncing with your phone do make it easy to obsess about steps.
– If you want a more accurate calorie reading, go for one with a heart-rate monitor.
– Take a look at the apps first (hopefully you’ll have friends using them) to see which you prefer.
– Step measurement is less accurate if you wear the tracker on your wrist as opposed to clipped to you (eg, on a bra or belt). The problem with the wrist is it’s impacted by your arm’s movement. They do incorporate this in the algorithm but it is a factor.
– Think about the look; you will be wearing this constantly. 
– These aren’t running watches – if you want one of those with accurate measure, get a GPS watch. These are about your everyday activity.

Do you wear a tracker? If so, do you like it? How’s your steppage? Do let me know in the comments box below…