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May 13, 2010

The Fitbit Experiment Day 0 (Kids In Constant Motion)

Have you ever been around small children and thought to yourself, “that kid never stops moving, I wish I had their energy!”  Of course you have, everyone has.  As parents, we recognize kids’ boundless energy as a universal truth like gravity or stinky French cheese. 

Let me take you back to November 2009 when I read an article in the Wall Street Journal (Fitbit Sees How You Run, Walk and Sleep) that was about a new gadget (Fitbit) that tracks both your activity level throughout the day and your sleep at night.  A bit like a pedometer, but better because it can track and calculate much more than just your number of steps and distance traveled.  I was intrigued, so I ordered two, one for me and one for Who’s Your Mommy.

Fast forward to today and a few weeks after getting our Fitbits (they had a serious backorder).  It’s been an interesting exercise to see how far we walk each day and how much (or little) we sleep each night.  And we’ve joked, wouldn’t it be funny to put one on the Little Man and track his boundless energy?  Is measuring that kind of energy even possible or is it like cold fusion, a scientific myth?  Would this be like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters and result in “total protonic reversal”?  I say, let’s find out!

So consider this the first entry in a not so scientific experiment to measure the boundless energy of a seven year old and compare it to the not-so-boundless energy of a forty year old dad.  We’ll be using Who’s Your Mommy’s Fitbit and run the risk of loss or destruction of that Fitbit in the name of science.  I’ll track the following data:

Daily Activity
Number of Steps Taken Per Day
Fitbit Activity Score (see here for explanation)

Sleep Activity
Hours In Bed
Times Awake

So check back later this week for my first report!

January 13, 2010

Move Your Butt

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured an article by Ron Winslow entitled Time Watching TV Linked to Higher Risk of Death that discusses an Australian study that links watching TV to higher death rate.  I encourage you to read the article  One of the most surprising aspects was that participants in the study were generally active people (getting 30-45 minutes of exercise per day).

The study revealed that, even for people who exercise, sitting on the couch watching TV or playing video games (guilty as charged) is the metabolic equivalent of sleeping and therefore has a fundamental impact on how your body processes fats, sugars and other nutrients.  “Researchers reported that the risk of death from any cause increased by 11% for each hour a day of reported TV watching; for death from cardiovascular disease, the risk increased 18%…”  Is it me, or are those scary numbers?

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 Before reading this would have told you that watching a few hours of TV is fine so long as you eat healthy and get your exercise.  Apparently not true.  Even if we are going to indulge in the guilty pleasure of a few hours of mindless amusement, we need to get up and move around a bit during that time.  Probably not helped by the super convenient DVR that allows us to fast forward through commercials and therefore eliminate the need for time-killing wandering around the house during those annoying insurance and car ads.  Maybe the networks should promote the health benefits of commercials!  But, I digress.

 So to my nine readers, please keep this in mind.  Even if you are going to watch for a few hours, get up and move around.  Just as important, if your kids are going to get their fix of Looney Tunes (I know, I’m showing my age), encourage them to move around a bit while they are watching – probably not a stretch for most kids.  Take our the trash, fold some laundry, change the channel on the TV and not the remote (wait, can you do that?) but just find a way to move your butt!