When I began taking my fitness seriously in 2017, I was obsessed with tracking statistics on my phone - like steps taken and calories burned - through various apps. I occasionally went for a run with a second-hand sports watch and chest strap to monitor my heart rate but very quickly grew tired of multiple gadgets. I soon after succumbed to the Fitbit Charge 2: a device that would benefit my mental as well as physical health.
I did a little research before committing to the Charge 2 but had very basic needs – a watch which measured heart rate, steps and calories burned through exercises. And even though my main focus was fitness, I still wanted a tracker I could wear all day that wouldn’t feel bulky or impede my typing. Thankfully, this Fitbit offers all these features and also includes a bonus sleep tracking functionality. It’s simple to set up and when the Charge 2 arrived I had it charged up and fully operational within an hour. The tracker includes optional phone, calendar and email alerts but when I’m exercising I prefer to be free from distraction so turn these notifications off.
As I spend most of my working day desk-bound, sometimes I need to be reminded to get up and move around and the Charge 2 offers this capability. I get hourly “reminders to move” between 9am and 5pm, a little buzz alerting me that I haven’t moved at least 250 steps within the hour. At the weekend I tend to work out in the morning and disable any reminders to enjoy some rest.
My increased interest in fitness coincided with a period of anxiety and through my Fitbit I was able to see the physical manifestation of this anxiety. I saw that my rapid heart rate though moments of panic was real, not imagined and was able to track my disturbed sleep patterns through the app. I hadn’t read up on all the Fitbit features and when I discovered the “relax” function I thought I’d give it a try. You are given a two or five-minute guided meditation with breathing exercises to encourage your heart rate to decrease as you follow the instructions on the watch face. From my first relaxation session, I was hooked and committed to spending at least 5 minutes a day focusing on my breath.
It’s strange that the very thing I bought the tracker for – to track my physical fitness stats – became insignificant once I decided to focus on my mental fitness. I became less impressed by steps and calories and worked on improving my sleep and breathing patterns. The impact on my anxiety has been so significant (I’m such a Fitbit evangelist) that three generations of my family now own the same model and we regularly engage in geeky chats about our sleep or step stats.
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