fit bit on a wrist
fit bit on a wrist

I’ve been asked many times whether or not I agree with using Fitbits as a motivation for increased physical activity. And while I agree that increasing physical activity is a great way to support and encourage rehabilitation and recovery, I don’t believe that the Fitbit is the solution for everyone – here’s why:

A recent visit by my brother opened my eyes to one of my tendencies that I believe would be much exaggerated with the use of a Fitbit. You see, my brother had recently started using a Fitbit to prompt him to move more, to achieve his “10,000 steps”.  Also, he had joined with a few friends to help motivate each other and compete for most activity in a day. The Fitbit also tracked his sleep and showed him his sleep patterns. For my brother, this was effective, and got him up and moving, and after only 3 days, he was already feeling better.  So while I was visiting with him, sitting on the couch and chatting, he would glance at his wrist and jump up and start running on the spot, or running up and down the stairs, while still talking with me. Yeah, it was a little weird, and a lot amusing! Read more about sleep and mental health.

When we went snowshoeing and climbed the “snowshoe grind—straight up”, he celebrated the “72 flights of stairs” (the equivalent of what we had achieved); and for him.. even better yet.. he was the top performer of his ‘Fitbit group’ that day.  Although, while it was working well for him – getting him more active than ever before, I am confident that a Fitbit would make me neurotic.

I already know that I should be more active, take the stairs more, sit less, walk more, have more structured exercise in my life, … I also have a pretty good idea when I’ve slept well or not slept well. I really would resent having an electronic device prompt me and remind me of all the ‘shoulds’ in my life.  The Fitbit would not work for me.

I know of several employers who have added the Fitbit to their list of refundable fitness or health expenses because they believe it works to support healthier living.  And it does, for some people, like my brother.  But it won’t work for everyone.  Remember to provide options in your health and wellness program to cover the needs of all your employees.  It is important to review your program regularly and that includes checking with all your employees on what is working for them.

Diana Vissers is the Founder and Director of Corporate Services at Work to Wellness Rehabilitation Inc. – a Canadian company providing expert disability management services to Canadian customers. She is in the business of making your place of business healthy, safe and productive. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest news and updates on health, wellness and integrated disability management.