Did you know over one-third of Americans are obese? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), obesity can lead to serious medical conditions, like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. It’s no wonder obesity is such a hot topic today. One way American businesses are counteracting the effects of obesity is by offering corporate wellness programs that include digital fitness devices like a Fitbit.
Obesity can cost American businesses $73.1 billion a year in medical expenses and lost productivity. Employers, like Bank of America, IBM, BP, Kimberly-Clark and Time Warner, have created corporate wellness challenges to motivate their employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. Additionally, as part of these programs, many companies hand out Fitbits or other digital fitness devices to their employees, so they can track their steps each day. Often, companies reward their employees when they reach specific fitness goals.
For example, over two years, IBM gave out Fitbits to 40,000 employees. The company found that 96% of employees using the Fitbits tracked their health data, including their eating habits. Employees who participated in the challenge walked an average of 8,800 steps per day, which is more than double the average of people who don’t wear pedometers. Even after the challenge wrapped up, 63% of employees continued to wear their Fitbits.
Some companies and health care insurers encourage their employees to use trackers, so they can reduce insurance costs. Using information from their employees’ Fitbits, Appirio persuaded its insurer, Anthem, to cut $280,000 from its annual health bill.
This Fitbit culture helps to keep people on their feet and active daily. Therefore, with exercise and diet changes, they’ll lose weight while reducing unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
Tips for Using a Fitbit
Are you ready to try out a Fitbit to become healthier? A Fitbit will track your steps, distance traveled, calories burned, and, depending on the brand, your sleep patterns. The sensor uploads the information online or to an app, so you can track your progress over time.
Here are some suggestions to help you get the best use of your Fitbit:
Wear it right. Some people slip the tracker into a pocket while others wear it on their wrist. If you’re tracking your heart rate, it’s best to wear your device on the wrist of your non-dominate hand. Since you use your dominant hand more, the device could pick up extra movements you make (if you wear in on that hand), which may skew your numbers. Check to see if your device needs to be set for your specific hand. Wear your tracker flat against your wrist about a finger’s width below your wrist bone (away from your hand). While exercising, wear your tracker farther up your forearm – about three fingers widths from your wrist bone. This area of increased blood flow will improve the heart rate signal received.
- Keep the heart rate sensors on “Auto.” The continuous heart rate data affects the abilities and accuracy of other device features.
- Customize your display. Select the stats you want to see on your device.
- Calculate and add your stride length. By adding your stride length, you’ll receive more accurate step data. To calculate your stride length, find some place where you know the exact distance between two points. Walk this distance while counting your steps. Divide the total distance by the number of steps taken. Input this data into your tracker.
- Use your Fitbit for a week while going about your normal routine. This will give you baseline data that you can use to make small changes in your routine. For example, you may want to use the stairs instead of the elevator, or you may want to park your car a little further away, which will add to steps to your count. Continue to make small changes week by week.
- Slowly work your way up to 10,000 steps per day. While most devices are set for 10,000 steps a day, if you don’t normally walk that much, don’t try to go from zero to 100 overnight. Take it slowly. Increase your daily step count by 10% a week until you hit 10,000 steps. Set up challenges against yourself or with your friends and family.
- Track your very active minutes. Depending on the brand, your tracker may measure how quickly you rack up steps, so it can figure out how vigorous they are. Aim to gradually increase your vigorous steps each week. However, unless you have an active job where you’re on your feet and moving all day, you probably won’t be able to make all 10,000 steps vigorous ones. Just make as many steps as you can active. This may mean you’ll have to hit the gym or go for a long walk.
- Use the data to look for trends. If you routinely miss or surpass your step goal, change it. Use the data to make behavior changes like exercising more and eating less.
- Log what you eat. Some devices have features to track what you eat and drink. Plus, you can see how many calories you burn each day. Use this data to make diet and exercise changes.
By following these tips, over time, you should see your Fitbit begin to pay off. You’ll start losing pounds, building more strength and endurance, and lowering your risk of serious health conditions.
Take the Pain Out of Your Steps with ezWalker® Custom Orthotics
If your feet hurt when you walk, you may not feel like walking very much. However, walking is the easiest way to get exercise and lose weight.
Some foot pain may be due to your walking shoes. Make sure your shoes fit correctly by referring to the Shoe Fitting Guide created by the WalkEZStore. This guide will help you size your shoes correctly and choose the right type of shoe for your feet.
If you suffer from painful foot conditions, this may hamper your ability to walk or find the right shoes to wear. We recommend you schedule a consultation with Kathy Carandang, a certified pedorthist. She can help find and properly fit your shoes.
To address your foot pain, the WalkEZStore offers custom orthotic products, like the ezWalker® Custom Fit Orthotic, which can help improve your feet’s function. Our custom orthotics have been proven to improve foot function in as little as six months to a year.
Visit the WalkEZStore to learn more about ezWalker® Custom Orthotics. To schedule a gait analysis, shoe fitting, or orthotic molding consultation with Kathy, click here. You’ll be walking easier in no time. So, you’ll feel like taking on a Fitbit challenge to become a healthier, stronger person.
P.S. Kathy recommends Amazon Prime when purchasing your Fitbit. Not only will you save time purchasing online, but you’ll also save money. Plus, you’ll get free 2-day shipping, so you’ll get your Fitbit faster.
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.®
Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Cover photo credit: 123RF / Kurhan