FitBit for parents. Is it worth it?


I’m not going to bore you with endless paragraphs on why I purchased a Fitbit; I got one because I want to live a more active lifestyle. Being a single parent, it isn’t always possible (or even possible at all in my case) to head down to the gym every other day or go for a spontaneous run because I have nothing to do (because let's face it, as a parent there's always something to do!). I wanted something to help me track my movements and make me more conscious of my lifestyle. Can smartwatches be a useful parenting tool in terms of taking better care of ourselves?



Why a Fitbit Versa?
Originally I wanted an Apple watch but realistically sitting around on my arse all day looking at my watch and playing apps kind of defeats the object. I needed something to get me going not slob around. Plus, I couldn’t justify spending upwards of £300 on a watch I wouldn’t be using properly that duplicates what my iPhone does, just on a smaller screen. My aunt has been on at me to get one for years but I never really saw the point until I got around to setting hers up and realised they do so much more. After scowering the Fitbit website for all of half an hour I decided to order the Fitbit Versa. I landed on the Versa because it’s the first of their products to introduce their new female health feature (more of that later). It retails at around £199 with the special edition versions costing more. As far as I’m aware there aren’t any voucher codes currently available as it only came out last month. Some of its key features are:



Unboxing
The Versa is very lightweight, sleek and super easy to set up; you just download the app onto your phone, take the watch out of the box and plug it into the mains and follow the instructions from the app. You might need to install a software update on your watch before you start (again, the instructions are all on the screen) but other than that just pop in a few details (age, weight, goals, etc) and you’re ready to go. I recommend charging it fully before your first use. Also, if you’re using the watch on on your dominant wrist make sure to change that in the settings menu at the top left of the app so it’s less sensitive to your movements. Below is a shot of the Fitbit app dashboard.

 

Parenting with the Versa
I’ve had the Versa for just over a week now and these are some of the useful features that I’ve found coincide and compliment keeping active alongside parenthood. Aside from the NFC capabilities, its customisation features (like being able to change the clock faces, personalise the app layout and swap out straps), tracking your footsteps, calorie and water intake, distance walked and floors climbed, the Versa also has some other nifty features worth noting.

Quick coaching

Like I said before, it isn’t always easy finding the time to workout when you’re a parent if you haven’t got babysitters. With the Fitbit Versa you’ll always have a fitness coach at hand with the on-screen workout feature. By selecting the ‘coach’ option from the menu on your screen you’re given a choice of three quick workouts – 10 minute abs, a 7 minute workout and the 15 minute treasure chest. I’ve found these quite handy for when my little’un is asleep or occupied and to be honest I like being guided in my workouts because I’m clueless when it comes to fitness. Plus, it means I don’t have to spend ages looking up fitness routines on YouTube, its already there on my wrist.

Sleep tracker

I know for a fact you’ve woke up in the morning after a terrible nights sleep and wondered if you’d even slept at all given the amount of times you’ve had to wake up in the night and see to your child. Well, am I wrong? If worn throughout the night the Versa has the capability of tracking the quality of your sleep, taking note of how long you’re awake and in the deep, light and REM sleep stages. The app even creates your own 30 day average and compares your sleep stages to the averages of men/women your age. For those of you who have to get up in the night for your toddlers it may help you identify when your toddlers wake and in turn might help you to understand their sleeping patterns too.




Apps

Your watch dashboard can be customised with a number of apps which can be downloaded from the Fitbit phone app. The ones I’ve found most useful are the weather app (especially with London’s ridiculously unpredictable weather, it’s nice to know when your kids can ditch the thermals for shorts and sunnies!), the alarm which vibrates in the morning instead of making a noise and waking up my son too so I get a bit of me time before he wakes up, the timer (because recently I’ve had a tendency of forgetting that I’ve put something in the oven) and the ‘relax’ app which encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day to do some breathing exercises (perfect for when I'm looking to unwind).

Fat Burn

The Versa automatically tracks and logs the time you spend in peak, cardio and fat burn heart zones. In parenting terms this means that every moment you spend running around with your little’un, whether it be at the park or in the garden, counts towards calorie burning. I’ve found it a nice incentive to spend more time at the park chasing after my boy.

Active reminders

As nice as it is being able to relax and have lazy days wherever you can its also important to make sure you keep moving too. You’re encouraged to make at least 250 steps per hour (which can be altered), with reminders popping up on your watch reminding you that there’s only ten minutes left to reach your target.

On the go notifications

When your phone is nearby it sends every notification you receive to your Versa (you can tailor what apps you want to receive notifications from in the Fitbit app). Although you can’t reply it’s nice to be able to get away from your phone for a bit and sets a good example to you kids about not spending too much time on their phones.

Female health tracking

I love this feature. Through the Fitbit app you can log your period, record symptoms and compare your cycle against other health stats like sleep, activity and weight. It also gives a rough idea of when your next period is due and an estimate of your ovulation window. Handy if you’re planning on expanding the family or just planning a family holiday (because who wants to be on holiday on their period??). 

 


Let’s end by praising the fact that its waterproof too, because parenting is a sticky business. It’s nice to know that you can give it a quick clean when you need to.





Final thoughts

Pros

  • Initially, I thought that wearing a watch all day and night would bother me but due to its sleek design a lot of the time I barely notice that it’s there
  • It’s easy to use, even for inexperience tech users
  • The watch focuses more on health and fitness and less on the quantity of gaming and social apps (this may be a con for those who want al all around gadget watch)
  • Instead of having to fish about for your phone, swiping up on the watch allows you to see a quick review of how your days is going (including your overall daily and hourly step count, km walked, floors climbed, calories burned, active minutes, bpm and for the women their period and ovulation information).

Cons

  • The battery life seems like a bit of a let-down – Fitbit promises over four days of usage but after about three days I’m finding I have to pop it back on charge. It charges fairly quickly (around the two hour mark) so I’m not too bothered about its battery life as I usually charge it up before I’m about to go to bed in time for sleep tracking
  • When I’m showering it’s very sensitive, powering on and flitting between apps at the slightest touch

I'd recommend the Fitbit Versa to any parent looking to squeeze in more exercise wherever they can and to track their activity throughout the day and night. It's nice to know that even on the days where your wellbeing isn't at the forefront because you're busy caring for your kids, it's still being cared for and monitored. Alternatively, the Fitbit Alta HR has very similar features to the Versa and comes with a considerably smaller price tag for those who aren't necessarily looking for on screen workouts and period/ovulation tracking. 






***All views are my own.***

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