10,000 Steps: January Fitbit Analysis


If you’re interested in learning about the potential of the Internet of Things to influence people’s behavior, one of the best places to start is by downloading one of the many fitness apps that are available to your smart phone and use it to track your exercise activities.

I began playing around with Fitbit last year when it came pre-installed on my HTC phone, but it’s only since New Year’s Day that I have started using it with serious intent. For January, I set myself a single goal of walking 10,000 steps every day, and as you can see from the chart I managed to exceed it. In fact, I ended up walking a total of 343,596 steps at an average of 11,083, which translates into an overall distance of 263.94km.

I am very lucky because I haven’t had to make any major changes to my lifestyle in order to achieve this target. I take public transport to the office, so by default I already have around 4,000 steps in the bank per day in any case. All I have to do is to make sure that I take a good walk at lunchtime, and if necessary go the long way home in order to hit the magic 10K.

Probably because I don’t have a set routine for weekends, I find achieving my targets during them much more difficult and have to think up inventive ways of forcing myself out of the house, such as going to explore an unfamiliar part of the city. I am not one of those people who enjoy exercise for exercise’s sake.

Although I’m pleased with myself for achieving my goal, I’m certainly not ready yet to declare victory. The weather in January was almost perfect for walking with cool temperatures and very little rain. I wonder how I will perform when the hot sweaty days of summer arrive. I’m not a big fan of the treadmill. Also, I didn’t travel very much during the month except for a short trip to Hong Kong, so was able to maintain a reasonably stable routine. How will I cope when I have to hit the road more intensively in the months ahead?

I’m betting that the Fitbit app will help keep me to keep on track, for if there is one thing that I have learned over the past month there’s nothing like having a simple, easy-to-measure target to keep me motivated. All I have to do is glance at the app on my smart phone, and I know exactly how many more steps I need to do. If I had to manually capture and analyze the data, I would already have given up by now. Excel spreadsheets have never been my greatest strength; I much prefer leaving all the processing work in the more capable hands of Big Data!

Even though I have been sorely tempted to set more aggressive goals in February, I’ve decided to keep them the same because right now my top priority is to ensure that I embed the habit of walking 10,000 steps into my daily routine. Too many fitness programs fail because people set impractical targets that they have no hope of reaching. I’d rather start with modest, achievable goals than being forced to give up almost immediately after flying out of the starting gate.

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