We’ve talked a lot about creating great habits and ways to keep your movement going throughout the day on this page, and by gum, we’re about to do it a bit more. And it’s all because of two habit-formation apps that I’ve come across lately. Well, one that I’ve had but had an important update, and the other is new.
Anyway, I digress. Once again, enter the Fitbit. I’ve talked about this device for a while now, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve been able to avoid getting obsessed with the pure numbers on it (like some people, unfortunately, do) and use it as a general tool for better health development. I’ve used it for tracking my sleep issues, creating an exercise and health community, and as motivation for myself. And now, with an update that I believe just dropped yesterday, it’s become even more valuable.
Yesterday, Fitbit added the ability to track movement throughout the day at various points. This is to say that you can put in a start and end time for this tracking and Fitbit will tell you if you had a certain threshold of steps that you performed in each hour between that start and end time. For instance, I put in 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, and Fitbit marks each hour during that time in which I took 250 or more steps.
Another cool feature is the ability to see the length of time you’ve been stationary – not moving at all. If you’re trying to make sure you’re moving a bit every hour, this is a key statistic. If you move at 9:05 and then again at 10:55, technically you could be getting 250 steps in each of those 9:00-10:00 and 10:00-11:00 hours, but you’d be stationary for nearly two hours – not what we want.
As you could probably guess… I love this addition. It’s been proven time and time again recently (and not so recently…) that movement throughout the day is a huge part of what keeps us healthy and happy in our lives. Even with my standing desk, I haven’t always been getting enough movement throughout the day.
Many of you know that I’m a web application developer by trade. It’s a job that involves a lot of typing, testing, running code, problem solving, etc. It’s a profession that by its very nature gets you into a mindset of hammering away at the keyboard for hours at a time. That can equal a lack of movement, as you can probably imagine. Having that precise tracking of getting the movement in during the day in little increments is fantastic information for me to have.
However, the one downside of the new feature, as I see it, is that it doesn’t notify you to get up and move. But I’ve solved that problem with another (free) habit formation app called Strides. Strides is just that – if you’re trying to develop a habit that takes places throughout the day, this is the place to go. Strides gives you the ability to 1) name the habit you want to develop, 2) track the number of times you did the work to develop that habit, and 3) notifies you when you should perform whatever habit formation activity goes along with the new habit.
Here’s an example: I talked the other day about grip strength development and how I was doing a routine where at various points throughout the day I clench and unclench my hands with great force. It’s been working, I’m happy to say (and I discovered just how well during a trip to a climbing gym last weekend where I performed much better than I expected). But I wouldn’t have had the success I have had without Strides reminding me to do it once an hour 10 times per day.
Strides notifies you at the times you decide upon, and then as you do the activity you open Strides and tap the little checkmark next to the name of the habit you’re working on. You then click that you completed the iteration of the activity and that’s it. Strides lets you know how many times you did the activity, what your daily goal is, and also on other screen tells you the number of days in a row that you’ve done it leading up to a 30-days-in-a-row goal.
(Strides also has a paid membership service that I haven’t looked into as much, but plan to in the near future.)
So my technique here is: the Fitbit is tracking the movement. Strides lets me know that I need to get up and do the activity and tracks it (so technically you’re getting the tracking in two places but with different metrics). All I have to do is tap on the Strides indicator a couple times an hour, and of course do the habit formation activity.
If I want to do more habit formation and new activities, such as greasing the groove with burpees or what have you, then I add a new habit to Strides. It does the rest.
I’m sure there are a ton of different activities that a couple of apps like these can help you remember to do. The sky is the limit on this methodology.
What sorts of habit formation would work for you with this technique and these apps? What other techniques have worked for you? Share in the comments or on our message board!