My name is Tim. I’m the (relatively) new VP of Interactive here at Fitbit. I am responsible for the website, mobile products and APIs. (APIs allow other people to develop products that connect to Fitbit, in case you didn’t know).
So to start this year off right, we proudly announce the Fitbit Mobile Website. What is it? A version of the Fitbit website that is designed just for the browsers on mobile phones. It doesn’t include everything we do on the regular website, but instead offers priority features you’ll want to access while away from you computer. Things such as… food logging, activity tracking, weight logging and top summary stats. You can access the new mobile website by pointing your phone’s web browser at m.fitbit.com. To be clear, this isn’t an iPhone application that you get from the app store or Android application. However, you can use the Mobile Website from either of these devices. And yes. It’s free.
The Mobile Website is a step in the right direction to make the mobile Fitbit experience even better, but it has it’s limitations. For instance, you can check your step count using the Mobile Website, but it will only show from your most recent sync with the base station. So if you are out and about all day and check the mobile site, your stats will be lower than what’s on your Fitbit. Also, you do need an Internet connection to access the Mobile Website.
There are also some key features missing from the Mobile Website that we hope to add in. These include:
- Logging water consumption
- Allowing you to log saved meals (not creating a meal – you’ll need to do that on the website)
- Manually entering calories for activities, like you can do on the site
- Creating a custom food
- And maybe some more sleep stats
And we’re just getting started. Native mobile apps are still coming – expect the iPhone app and then an Android app after that.
And what about APIs? You can expect to see some initial APIs from us soon. Stay tuned. Closely tuned.
Getting fit tops the list of New Year’s Resolutions each year, and predictions are that Weight Loss will once again top 2011 resolutions. Unfortunately, most people don’t keep their resolutions even through the first month of the year!
If becoming more fit, increasing activity or weight loss are on your list this year, then Fitbit can help. The good news is that if you’re reading this, you’ve already made a step in the right direction. And just by wearing a Fitbit Tracker, you’re likely to increase your activity level by 25%! Now that’s a resolution you can keep!
A few easy tips to get started:
- Keep your resolution by setting a realistic & measurable goal – what could be easier than automatically tracking and increasing your steps with a Fitbit Tracker? Be lazy with your tracking, get active with your life!
- Integrate fitness into your daily routine – get off the bus one stop earlier, take a lunchtime walk, or take the stairs! Those small changes really do add up and they are easy to track with your Fitbit Tracker!
- Set an attainable step, distance or weight goal based on your current activity level on your Fitbit dashboard. Or start a free trial of our premium membership and digital personal training plan to gradually increase your activity over 12 weeks.
- Keep record of your progress – to log food, increase activity, or use a custom tracker to monitor your personal resolution.
Need further inspiration & motivation? Check out Fitbit Groups – there’s something for everyone, whether your goal is to run your first 5k or walk 5k steps a day. Or invite a friend to join you on Fitbit.com – it’s free, and owning a Fitbit Tracker isn’t required.
Start your year off right. Here’s to a healthy and happy New Year, and one resolution you can keep!
Note: The free upgraded shipping offer for the holidays has expired as of 12/23/10. Still plenty of time to consider a Fitbit for a New Year’s Resolution Solution!
Looking for a last-minute holiday gift for someone on your list? A Fitbit Tracker makes a great gift for a spouse (a little friendly competition anyone?), a walking buddy, or for anyone you’d like to share the gift of health!
There’s still time – we’re offering free upgraded shipping for Fitbit Tracker orders. Happy Healthy Holidays!
Many of our Fitbit community members use the tracker functionality to monitor their blood glucose levels.
Why is blood sugar level an indicator of overall good health? Our friends at The Noe Valley Clinic and One Medical Group (based here in San Francisco near the Fitbit headquarters, with offices in NYC as well) provide valuable insight into the importance of tracking blood sugar.
By Spencer Blackman, M.D. – The Noe Valley Clinic, sister practice of One Medical Group
Most healthy people don’t think too much about their blood sugar, so why should you? Because an abnormal blood sugar level is a major preventable risk factor for some very serious diseases. Read on to learn about the risks of uncontrolled blood sugar, how to keep your own levels under control and when and how to get screened for problems.
The “sugar” in “blood sugar” is glucose, a simple molecule packed with the energy needed to power almost all the functions of your body. As you digest a meal, glucose released from the food moves into your bloodstream where its concentration is tightly regulated by hormones including insulin, glucagon and cortisol. Depending on the time of day, how much you’ve recently eaten and how much you’ve exercised, your blood glucose level might range between 70 and 150 mg/dL. After fasting overnight, your glucose levels should drop well below 99 mg/dL.
How Low Can You Go?
If you wait too long between meals or exercise too vigorously without eating, you may start to feel the earliest symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. You know the feelings: hunger, fatigue, irritability, stomach pains, headaches and decreased productivity. Fortunately, your body is extremely good at maintaining normal blood sugar, and true hypoglycemia (blood sugar levels below 70 mg/dL) is very rare except in people who are taking drugs for diabetes. Usually, you can avoid feeling poorly by eating at regular intervals, avoiding excess sugars and caffeine and including some protein in every meal (since proteins are more satisfying and less fattening than fats and carbs). But if these simple steps aren’t enough to control your symptoms, you should discuss the situation with your provider.
Too High for Comfort
A much more common problem is hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, defined as blood glucose levels above 99 mg/dL after an overnight fast. In its earliest stages, this condition is sometimes called “impaired fasting glucose” or “pre-diabetes”, and it is especially common in patients who are overweight or have family members with diabetes. Many affected patients go on to develop diabetes themselves, and face increased risks of heart disease, strokes, loss of vision, nerve damage and kidney failure – all because of excess sugar in the bloodstream. By identifying patients with high blood sugar early and helping them adopt better lifestyles, we can often prevent or forestall the development of diabetes and its dreaded complications.
Habits for Healthy Blood Sugar
Considering the health risks of hyperglycemia, prevention is definitely worth the effort. When it comes to healthy blood sugar, the following lifestyle choices are the key to success:
Weight loss. Perhaps the most important action people with elevated blood sugar can take is shedding
excess pounds: being overweight is a primary risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Avoid sodas and sweets,and eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Make sure to have a balance of fat, carbohydrates,and proteins at every meal. And eat small meals at regular intervals, rather than going long periods without food and then binge-eating.
Exercise. Getting the blood pumping brings blood sugar down because your muscles use glucose as their primary energy source. Exercise also balances the hormones that control our blood glucose levels. Even a brisk walk for a half an hour each day can have positive effects.
Stress Reduction. As our ancestors prepared to flee from a looming saber tooth tiger, stress hormones (e.g. adrenaline and cortisol) caused blood sugar levels to rise, providing a burst of energy to aid the survival process. In today’s world, our stress hormone levels are often sky-high but we rarely get enough exercise to provide balance. Reduce stress by incorporating an activity like meditation or yoga into your day, and you’ll see immediate benefits.
Coffee. Studies show that people who drink coffee may have a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, so don’t feel guilty about your morning cup. Just keep the sugar to a minimum.
When to Get Tested
Diabetes screening usually involves a fasting blood glucose test, though non-fasting options also exist. Your One Medical provider can arrange a screening test at your next physical exam. We also offer nutrition counseling for anyone wanting to feel better through improved eating habits.
If you are healthy and don’t have diabetes in your family, we recommend blood sugar testing every three years after the age of 45.
If you are overweight or obese, or have high blood pressure, heart disease or a family history of diabetes, you should have your blood sugar tested annually, regardless of age.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, make sure you visit your One Medical provider at least every six months so we can help prevent or delay complications.
Spencer Blackman, M.D. is a physician at The Noe Valley Clinic, the sister practice of One Medical Group. One Medical Group provides primary care services and has doctors in San Francisco as well as New York City doctors.
For More Information:
Thanks for the intro Amy!
As Amy mentioned in the last post, my name is Shelten and I’m the Chief Scientist at Fitbit. I lead our research in sensor architectures and algorithms for health & wellness monitoring and discovery. Since you’re reading this, you probably already know that the Fitbit Tracker is an unobtrusive device that you can wear all day long to track your steps, calories burned, and sleep. In today’s blog post, I’d like to clear up some confusion about how our activity tracking algorithms work.
I. What the Fitbit Tracker does not do
People often refer to the Fitbit Tracker as a “pedometer on steroids”. Illegal drug use aside, I think that’s meant to be a compliment. Thank you. However, that description doesn’t quite give justice to the Tracker. To understand why, let me first show you what the Fitbit Tracker does NOT do.
Fig. 1 sketches out what a typical pedometer does to estimate your calorie burn. It counts your steps and then multiplies the step count by some value to come up with a calorie value.
II. Question: Why don’t we just convert steps into calories?
Well, it turns out to not be very accurate. People walk and run very differently — some are more efficient at ambulatory activity than others — so a one-size-fits-all conversion of steps to calories burnt won’t work. To see this for yourself, check out Fig. 2 below. If I were to naively say that my additional caloric burn is 8.8 calories per 100 steps (the “Shelten” bar) and then apply that to everyone else, then I’d be undercutting their calories by as much as 43% (as in the case of the “Priscilla” bar).
It gets worse. If I focus on a single user, say James, and look at his data across the week, you can see that a single value doesn’t work well even in that case. Check out Fig. 3. On Wednesday, his value of 6.8 calories per 100 steps is about 46% of the value on Saturday. Presumably this is because on some days James walked more aggressively than others. This implies that even a personalized calibration of a conversion factor from steps to calories won’t do very well if you’re at all interested in knowing how much extra credit you get for going on that jog.
III. How the Fitbit Tracker measures calorie burn
The Fitbit Tracker determines calorie burn by using the *raw* motion data of the user, as obtained from a 3-axis accelerometer. The Tracker looks at the intensity and duration of the accelerometer signal, analyzes patterns, and then determines calorie burn. This general approach to energy expenditure monitoring has roots in the scientific literature dating back to about three decades ago and is still an active area of research in academia and at Fitbit. If you’re interested in learning more about the ongoing state of the field, Staudenmayer, et al. (2009) is a good recent example and van Hees & Ekelund (2009) give a nice overview.
Okay, so what does this all mean? The Fitbit Tracker is much more than a pedometer — it’s also a finely tuned instrument that measures calorie burn. Let’s return to the example of James’s week-long data set, now separated into steps and calories burnt in Fig. 4. We see that by measuring calories and steps as two distinct quantities (rather than just calories derived from steps a la Fig. 1), we can glean some interesting insights into activity. First off, it’s pretty clear that more steps don’t necessarily mean more calories when comparing the values on Thursday to the values on Monday. On Monday, James only walked about 5600 steps but burned 787 calories. On Thursday he walked more (7700 steps) but burned fewer calories (640 calories). If James is trying to lose weight without having to wear out his running shoes, he should try to mimic his behavior on Monday!
Staudenmayer, J., Prober, D., Crouter, S., Bassett, D., Freedson, P. (2009) An artificial neural network to estimate physical activity energy expenditure and identify physical activity type from an accelerometer. J Appl Physiol 107: 1300-1307.
van Hees, V.T. and Ekelund, U. (2009) Novel daily energy expenditure estimation by using objective activity type classification: where do we go from here? J Appl Physiol 107: 639-640.
And we hope you do too – especially data that you can use to help make behavioral change – and live healthier. And there’s a key member of the Fitbit team we wanted to introduce you to who is our own data expert: Shelten Yuen. Shelten heads Research at Fitbit and he’s responsible for the “smarts” in the Fitbit tracker. He loves analyzing data and solving complex problems — and you can see it in his previous research in beating heart surgery (with robots, no less) at Harvard University, where he also got his Ph.D., and his research in missile defense at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.
Shelten continues headlong down this path at Fitbit and he’ll be joining us on the blog on a regular basis to share interesting analysis on the data Fitbit collects, and share data trends with the Fitbit community. Look for his first data analysis piece soon!
We’re posted previously about the importance of a good night’s sleep. By wearing your Fitbit to track your sleep, the data and trends can help you identify why you may not wake up feeling rested, or why it takes you a long time to fall asleep. The benefits of healthy sleep are many: maintaining a healthy weight, eating well, energy levels and good food & activity choices.
Several members of the Fitbit community have used their Fitbit sleep graphs to do just that – analyze their personal data and work with professionals to sleep better and wake up rested. Because our Fitbit community says it best, we thought we’d share just a few of the experiences you’ve shared with us. See how your fellow community members used their Fitbit data to sleep better and change their lives:
“I’ve had my fitbit for months. I show anywhere between 25 and 55 red lines a night. And this is with it set at normal, not sensitive. Most are from just moving; I’m not aware of it. If I get out of bed the red lines are very thick.
There is a definite pattern. There are usually no red lines for the first 1-1/2 to two hours. Then it’s nearly constant. When a friend got a fitbit and only had up to five awakenings, I decided to go and have a sleep study. I’ve been waking up exhausted for years.
My sleep study doctor was very interested in the fitbit. He believes that it uses some of the same technology that the sleep lab uses. My sleep study showed that I didn’t have any problems until I hit what’s supposed to be my REM sleep — 1-1/2 to two hours after falling asleep.
I started using a CPAP machine. The new nose pillow masks are very easy to get used to. I feel better than I have in probably ten years.”
And here’s another Fitbit community member’s observations:
“I don’t know how it does it with fitbit on our wrists, but it really does know when we are awake vs asleep. I was shocked when I got my fitbit in March and it said I was waking up 40-60 times per night. I printed the graphs and took them to my doctor. I had a sleep study done and fitbit was right on the mark–47 for the sleep study machine, 47 for fitbit!
I am now using a CPAP machine and feel better than I have in years. Thank you fitbit!!
How can your data help you make changes to live a healthier life, sleep better, or be more active? Fitbit’s a good way to find out!
Today we’ll give you a little peak under the covers (pun intended) at our community’s typical sleep stats. Interested in seeing how your sleep stats compare? Check out the premium benchmarking feature- there’s a free trial – and take a look at your detailed sleep report for more insight.
Here’s to a good night’s rest!
We’re excited to announce that you can now share your Fitbit data on Google Health!
To link your Fitbit and Google Health accounts or Learn More, visit the Fitbit Share Page. Along with our Twitter, Facebook and WordPress integrations, you’ll see that there’s now an option to share your data with Google Health.
You can read more about Google Health and their update in this recent Google Blog post.
Have you explored your personalized Fitbit data reports yet? As a free user, you have the chance to check out each of these reports in detail, using YOUR data! And as a Fitbit Premium member, you’ll have access to the reports on a weekly basis.
If you log your food on Fitbit, you’ll see your daily food intake and we’ll compare that to your activity levels to compute your net gain or loss.
*New* by popular request, we’ve recently made the caloric composition breakdowns customizable. Our guidelines are based on the US guideline percentages of intake of protein, fat and carbs – but if you are following a special plan to control weight or other health metrics, you can make these yours.
Getting enough sleep? Find out the recommended hours of sleep per day, and see how your sleep patterns stack up – to the recommended averages and to your peers. We’ll also show your trends and averages over time.
See how your current activity measures up – are you sedentary? fairly active? moving into a more active lifestyle? See how you are progressing towards goals, and how you’re trending over time.
Need motivation to take your activity to the next level? Try the Fitbit Trainer for a week. Get started today!
To find your reports, head over to the analytics tab from the Fitbit homepage. Your detailed analysis is waiting.