Living with a vivofit

The training for the half marathon is still going well, with the race itself only a frightening 12 days away! One of the tools I’ve used to help me monitor my fitness is the garmin vivofit I received for Christmas.

2015-01-01 16.04.33The vivofit is a gadget, worn on the wrist, that monitors steps and general activity. It has several screens, cycled through with a single button. These include steps taken (daily), number of steps to reach goal (which changes to number above the goal once reached), distance travelled, calories burned, time and an optional heartrate screen – I have a heart rate monitor (HRM) that can send signals to the vivofit.

The gadget itself comes with two wristbands, one large and one small, in whatever colour you order, and there are other packs of wristbands available in different colours. It’s reasonably comfortable to wear, and the time setting means that it can be worn to replace a watch, although I tend to wear my watch on my left wrist and the vivofit on the right.

I wear my vivofit constantly, only taking it off in the shower at home. This means I wear it when sleeping, and when swimming.

step screenThe goal for each day is set automatically. You can override it, but I just leave it, and it’s settled at around 15k steps per day. If I meet the target (and on a long run day I might even double it), it goes up. If I miss it, the next day it will be a little lower.

I tend to ignore the calories screen, as I’m never sure whether it’s counting just calories from activity, or whether it takes into account normal burning of calories throughout the day anyway. As a result, I’ll use another tracker (phone app or watch) to track dog walks, and I’ll use my watch to track outdoor runs.

When on a treadmill, I’ll use the vivofit with the HRM. Turning the vivofit to the heartrate display screen triggers a mark at the beginning of an activity, while turning off the heart screen or disconnecting the HRM will mark the end of it. This means that when I sync the device, the time of the activity and the related heart rate data is recorded as a specific activity, although no distance or pace is recorded alongside. I’ve found from this that the distance recording on the vivofit is fairly accurate.

Steps are recorded on the garmin website, and a record is available of my past history, so I can see how active I’ve been over a period of time. It will also break the data down into times of day I was most active.

Syncing the device is done by pressing and holding the single button until SYNC appears on the screen, and then takes a few seconds. It will sync via bluetooth to either my phone app or to the computer using the bluetooth receiver that’s supplied. The battery in the device is supposed to last at least a year, so there is no fiddling with batteries or charging, but it does mean that to preserve battery life there is no backlight on the screen.

One feature I find useful is the activity bar. A red bar appears at the top of the screen after an hour of moving very little, and further, shorter, bars appear every 15 minutes after that, until I reach one full bar and four quarter bars, indicating I haven’t moved much for two hours. This prompts me to get up and move around for a bit, in order to make the bars go off again.

2015-01-03 17.11.40Another feature is the sleep monitor – by pressing the button until SLEEP appears on the screen, I put it into sleep mode, and it then records sleep patterns, based on movement, until I turn it off again. I can then see the length of time I was in sleep mode, and record my mood when I woke up. A full record can then be seen on the garmin website, to show my sleep patterns over a period of time.

All in all, I find the device a very useful gadget for keeping an eye on my activity, prompting me to keep moving and trying to hit the daily goal, and reassuring me that I’m sleeping more than I thought I was.



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  1. Much as I like my Fitbit, your Vivofit sounds much better!

  2. I got the Fitbit for Mother’s Day, my daughter and I push each other on in terms of hitting our step targets although I confess Sundays are pretty much a write off


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