I’ve been using a Fitbit step counter since New Year and have been enjoying the various visualizations it gives me of my days. It provides an interesting form of automated diary of my days.

Here, for instance, is last Monday, Easter Monday, which was a holiday here in Norway. The y-axis shows calories burnt each five minutes, and the x-axis shows the time of day. That pink spike at 7:30 am is me walking over to my mother’s to have breakfast with my sister and her family before they began their eight hour drive home after Easter in Bergen. After that you can see I barely sat down until our two and nearly-four-year-old were in bed at 7 pm, although we didn’t do anything particularly strenuous. Then a nice relaxing evening with Scott, with a bit of pottering around the house and some getting ready for bed in the evening. I logged a total of 11417 steps.

On Tuesday I was back to work, and as you can see, we got off to a late start – I was in bed until nearly 8. The yellow lines are walking the kids’ to preschool, then I took the train to work, so there’s only a narrow pink spark where I walked up the hill to the university from town. I was rather sedentary at work, although I did use my standing desk a little in the afternoon. The second pink line is me running to the train, then I picked up the kids, we got dinner going and so on. Once they were in bed at 7, I crashed, then did some housework (the blue lines after 8 pm) and then sat down to do some more work before turning in. A sadly sedentary day, at only 8698 steps.

On Wednesday I was determined to be a bit more pro-active, and after an efficient morning and preschool-dropoff I walked to work, which takes about 50 minutes and is a pretty good workout, I’ve realized. It costs a lot less time than going to the gym and I’m more likely to actually do it, especially now I’ve got the Fitbit cheering me on. I moved around a bit more at work and was more active throughout the afternoon and at home in the evening too, ending up at 15505 steps.

Fitbit lets you download (some of) your data, and I’d love to see other examples of how you could visualize it – and of course there are other views provided by Fitbit in addition to this. There are other fitness trackers too, such as Nike’s Fuelband, which is a bracelet that actually vibrates to alert you that you’ve been too sedentary.

They’re not primarily sold as diaries, though, and although you can add journal notes for each day, they’re not displayed next to the visualizations so that it’s not too easy to annotate days, either, without taking them out of the Fitbit website as I’ve done here.


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