Benefits Of Wristband Fitness Trackers

How Using Fitness Tracking Wristbands Can Help PCOS

Fitbit Flex. Wendy Bumgardner © 2013

Most experts agree that physical activity is a critical factor in successfully managing PCOS as it can significantly improve both physical and emotional well-being. But you don’t have to sweat it out at the gym to get results. Increasing activity during routine daily activities like parking your car further away from an entrance or taking steps instead of an elevator, are easy ways to incorporate more movement into your life.

Many people are now using fitness tracking wristbands to help set and monitor goals for exercise and other health aspects. I decided to try several out.


Benefits of Wristband Fitness Trackers

Fitness wristbands can help monitor your health in several ways. One primary function is to count the number of steps you take throughout the day. The technology has been made "smart" enough to require little or no programming. This is a welcome relief from my previous experiences with waistband "pedometers," which require a user to measure their foot stride distance in feet, program the pedometer accordingly, and hit a switch every time you switch from walking to jogging.

I tried both the Garmin Vivofit and the Fitbit Flex. Both were essentially ready to use out of the box, only requiring me to turn them on and download an app to my smartphone. Happily, both measured my distances very accurately. I walked on a measured trail and both devices measured distance accurately, to within 0.1 mile on a 2 mile walk.


The Garmin Vivofit can be used as a watch and displays the time and key fitness measurements like number of steps taken and distance. I found this to be very motivating as I could check it easily throughout the day to monitor my progress. In contrast, the Fitbit Flex is a simple black band with no information displaying; exercise statistics can only be seen on the Fitbit smartphone app after "synching" the devices (you push a button and wait a few seconds).

Power supply is another difference between these two fitness bands. The Garmin Vivofit has "watch" type batteries, which purport to work for approximately one year. Conversely, the Fitbit Flex has a rechargeable battery that I had to remove from the wristband once a week for re-charging (by plugging it into the USB port on a computer).

I found the use of the fitness band extremely helpful in establishing and managing fitness goals. My initial goal was to walk at least 10,000 steps (approximately 4.7 miles) every day. I was very surprised to see how much distance I was covering just around the house and office!

Both of the wristbands I tried have certain limitations to be cognizant of. I sometimes walk almost a mile in the local supermarket during a typical shopping trip, but since my wrist was relatively still pushing the cart, distance wasn't measured. Likewise, if I am giving a presentation or taking a lot with my hands (I am Italian!) my distance increased.

Another interesting feature of some fitness bands is that they also allow you to track aspects of your sleep, such as hours per night and your movement while sleeping.

I found this useful at first, but found the capabilities somewhat basic and they required me to remember to hit a button both at night and in the morning. I also sleep more comfortably without wearing a watch.

Both the Garmin and Fitbit Apps enable you to manually enter and track other health goals and activities, such as eating (food log) and other exercise not easily tracked by the band (i.e. weight training). I was particularly pleased by the Garmin App's synchronization with the "MyFitnessPal" food record app to use on a smartphone.

The Garmin currently is (and Fitbit claims in the near future to be) capable of measuring and tracking heart rate. This can be very useful for measuring the cardio intensity of your exercise.

Bottom line: This new generation of exercise monitoring wristbands is now a key component of my daily measurement of fitness goals and a new contributor to my management of PCOS.

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