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FitBit Review 2017 (Count my Steps: “Which FitBit is Right for Me?”)

One of the things I emphasize on DevelopGoodHabits.com (DGH) is the importance of accountability and metrics while forming a new habit.  It’s been my experience that when you focus on a specific milestone every day, it becomes easier to permanently adopt a new routine.

With that in mind, today I’d like to amend a recent post I did that reviewed different pedometer options.  While my conclusion was to buy the tracker that’s right for you, I now firmly believe there is a single pedometer that truly helps you develop the “step walking habit.” And it’s the FitBit One.

I’ve tested this product for the three years now,  and I STILL feel it’s still the best pedometer on the market.  In the post, I’ll explain why I give it my complete stamp of approval, in spite of the fact that the Fitbit One is one of the  older models. (It is hard to improve on a perfect pedometer.)

A (Very Brief) Overview of the FitBit One

What is the FitBit One?

Basically, it’s a tool that counts your daily steps.  Like other devices, it uses a series of accelerameters and altimeters to count metrics like steps, distance covered, floors climbed and calories burned.  Its core purpose is to help users form the daily habit of walking.  If you take the time enter your average stride length, plus your weight, the FitBit One can provide an amazingly accurate measurement of your daily physical activity.

Fitbit has a few different options available that will do this job at varying price points. The Fitbit One is one the less expensive versions, being one of the clip on pedometers, rather than one of the fancier, “watch” versions, of the fitbit. The major differences between these versions are form, not function. They all measure the same stuff, the differences pivot around how much the display will show before upload, how they look, and where they are placed. In the final section of this 2016 Fitbit step tracker review, I will go into some more detail about all the different versions of Fitbit available.

Now, you can read about the features of the FitBit One on its Amazon product page.  So I’m not going rehash what’s already written.  Instead, I’d like to point out six reasons why I think it’s a great product for anyone who wants to develop the walking habit.

Benefit #1: Portability

There are lots devices/apps that count your daily steps.  The problem?  Most are annoying to carry around.  Either you’re tethered to a cell phone or you’re forced to wear a device that often looks unprofessional.  Neither option works from a “habit development” standpoint because you have to develop a whole new routine JUST to count your daily steps.

The FitBit One is different because you get a device that’s very portable and can easily “blend in” to whatever you’re wearing.  Simply clip the small (.3 ounce) pedometer to your belt and you’re ready to go.

More importantly, this device stays clipped on.  It’s been my experience that it’s easy to lose small pedometers if they’re not designed correctly.  However, the FitBit is designed to stay on your belt—no matter what you put it through.  In the last month, I’ve worn it: on a 14 mile run, during a 10 hour move, and in the middle of torrential downpour.  At no point did I damage or lose this device.  In my opinion, that makes it a pretty reliable pedometer.

Benefit #2: Accuracy

Fitbit ONEOne of the chief complaints from the FitBit detractors is it often accidentally counts steps that don’t happen.  Some say it measures any sort of movement like driving or using public transportation.

I’ve tested this “problem” on my own, by doing the following:

  • Recorded my steps before and after driving a car
  • Shook the device vigorously in my hand
  • Measured step counts during a train ride

What I found was simple—the FitBit doesn’t accidentally count steps.  Sure, you’ll get a few by shaking the device up and down.  But, the designers have done a good job with their accelerometers and altimeters to determine what’s a “step” and what’s a simple bump in the road while driving a car.  As a result, you get a spookily accurate measurement of your daily step count.

Benefit #3: Activity Charts (count my steps)

FitBit One is supported by a number of apps and an extensive member dashboard.  Whenever you sync the device, it automatically updates your account with information like:

  • Steps
  • Distance
  • Floors
  • Calories burned

I feel these charts are important because they help strengthen the daily walking habit.  Instead of getting vague information about your step count, you get fully-detailed progress reports as you form the walking routine.

For instance, take a look at this chart from my last month:

You’ll find it’s easier to stick with a habit when you see progress being made.  What the membership site gives you is a central location that maintains a daily log, without requiring a lot of extra work.  Simple sync it every few days and FitBit automatically updates your account.

Benefit #4: Gamification

Gamification is a new trend where businesses leverage the human desire for competition into the design of their software or applications.  When a product is “gamified,” it rewards the user for completing specific challenges and accomplishments.

The FitBit One is fully gamified.  After using this pedometer for awhile, you’ll earn a variety of badges based on daily steps, floors climbed, lifetime distances and lifetime climbs.  Once you hit one of these milestones, you’ll get an email notification and earn a badge for your membership account.

To illustrate my point, here are the Fitbit badges I’ve earned so far:

Pedometer Badges - Count your steps

I’ll admit that “gamification” seems like a silly idea.  What normal, healthy adult would care about earning virtual badges?  Oddly enough, I found these rewards do help with the development of the walking habit.  Sure, they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but they often provide another incentive to walk—even when you’re not up for it.  Sometimes knowing you’re about to “earn a badge” is enough motivation to get out the door and start walking.

Benefit #5: Accountability

Pedometer Accountability: Fitbit WebsiteFitBit One can be fully synced with your Facebook or Google+ account.  This means you can compare the daily step counts to your family and friends.

This is a very important feature because having “public accountability” is one of the best ways to stick with a new habit.  (This is something I covered in my article about the Hawthorne Effect).

In your membership dashboard, FitBit provides a leader board that ranks your steps against other people in your social network.

For instance, look to the left to see how I currently compare to my contacts (for the sake of privacy, I blurred their names/faces.)

This feature is yet another way to get motivated to continue with the walking habit.  Knowing you’re close to passing a friend can become a wonderful incentive to do a little more walking each day.

Even now (as I write this article) I’m looking at the above image and feel a need to walk 2,000 more steps today to pass the next guy on the leader board.

Benefit #6: Long Battery Life

We all know it’s frustrating to have devices that need constant charging (like the iPhone).  Fortunately, the FitBit One isn’t like that.  Since it’s a device that doesn’t use too much power, it only needs to be charged every week or so.  Moreover, it only has to be plugged in for an hour to get a full charge, so you won’t have to wait around all day to use this device.

I find this feature to be especially refreshing.  This pedometer is intended for constant use, so I’m glad it has a “charge it and go” type of design.  Sadly, this is a feature you don’t often see with many lifestyle-based devices.

How to Buy (and Use) the FitBit One in Three Steps

Overall, I’m extremely impressed with the functionality of the FitBit One.  It’s a device that’s simple to use, but also offers a variety of features that motivates you to maintain the walking habit.

It’s not hard to buy (and use) this device.  In fact, I encourage you to grab it and then connect/compete with members of the Develop Good Habits audience.

You can do this in three simple steps:

  1. Go to Amazon and buy the FitBit One.
  2. Connect with me through the membership account of FitBit—my email is stevescottsite(at)gmail(dot)com.
  3. Walk every day and see how you rank versus other DGH readers.

The trick to developing any habit is to stay accountable and reinforce it on a daily basis.  What the FitBit One gives you is a device that merges simple functionality with social networking.  When you know people are following your habit change, you’ll be more inclined to follow through with this commitment.  So if you’re looking to develop the walking habit, then the FitBit One is an excellent option.

Fitbit one:  Just one of the many Fitbit options

The Fitbit One is just one of many styles of Fitbit tracker available. You can see a display of all the current (2017) Fitbit activity trackers to the right. These trackers roughly increase size, style, functionality and cost as you go down the list.

Fitbit One - Count my Steps to 10000 steps dailyThe first entry is the Fitbit Zip. This is the bargain basement option, and I feel shows it in some ways. It is not as rugged or functional as it’s slightly more expensive brother, the Fitbit One.

Fitbit FLexThe next entry is the one we have been discussing: the Fitbit One. I have already beaten that drum, as to why I think this inexpensive model is still one of the best, so ’nuff said about that.

Third, we get the Fitbit Flex.  In my mind the flex is a step backwards in functionality, while being a step forward in “style”.  If style is something that matters to you and you like the look of the flex, I would say go for it.  Otherwise this may not be your best Fitbit option.

Fitbit Surge - How to count my stepsThen there is the Fitbit Surge.  This has full functionality and control. It looks pretty darn stylish, but also costs quite a bit more than the far simpler Fitbit Flex.

count my steps - fitbit BlazeFinally there is the Fitbit Blaze.  As of this writing, this model has only been announced, but it seems like the folks at Fitbit are traveling more into the full on, “smartwatch” territory with this option. I am not sure how I feel about this.  I have an Apple Smartwatch, which I have found generally underwhelming.  I still prefer the simple, Fitbit One to the Smartwatch, Sometimes simplicity and a single point of design is a good thing.

Fitbit ChargeThe Fitbit Charge 2 is the newest kid on the block.  Many people think of the new Charge 2 as the best designed Fitbit yet. It takes all the bells and whistles of the Fitbit Blaze, adds a waterproof element and a minimalist design and slashes the price of the Blaze by about 20%. The extra features beyond the Fitbit One, do make this new pedometer tempting.But I think the deal breaker for me is that this is another watch and not a clip on. I like just throwing my tracker in my pockets.

Many reviewers consider the Fitbit Charge 2 as the best FitBit so far… see more about it HERE.

I do think the Fitbit One is the best, but there are other choices that are quite good, including simply getting apps for your mobile device.  (This has greatly reduced accuracy, however, but should give you a good ballpark figures).

Ultimately there are a ton of great options out there. The important piece may not be as much getting “right” fitness tracker tool, but simply getting something and getting out there and actually putting it to use. If you wonder how to ” count my steps?” Fitbit Might be right for you!

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