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How Fit is the Bit?

August 15, 2020

For the past several months I have taken to wearing a Fit Bit. Not because I expect to get fitter, but because I am curious about the impact of exercise on my heart. When I was scheduled to have an operation to remove cancer from one of my lungs three years ago, I flunked the pre-op screening because of a fibrillation in my heart. The operation had to be postponed while I undertook further tests, but then went ahead.

At the time I blamed the fibrillation on having been at a political fundraising event the night before, at which the hostess, a long time friend, had urged her son, the bartender to ensure that I was kept well supplied with malt whisky. He complied vigorously and I had felt a little strange in the middle of the night.

I was send to a heart guy who explained the ins and outs of fibrillating hearts and prescribed a pill that I take daily and is not covered by my medical plan, at $4.00 per pill. I felt a little weird again while biking last fall, and it was tentatively blamed on too vigorous exercising. So I bought a Fit Bit to try and find how my heart was reacting to exercise, in my case, generally biking outdoors.

It has taken me a while to understand what it is telling me, mostly because it is intended more for the walker or runner than for the cyclist. it posts a number of steps that I am presumed to have taken, that bares no particular relationship to my biking . It also reports some other things, like liquid and food consumption, but you have to enter those yourself, not surprisingly.

What I am following however, is my heart rate, it will display me a graph with a squiggly line that represents my heart rate and goes up and down all the time, but not with a frequency to reflect fibrillation. When I cycle there are more systematic rises and falls in my heart rate, which relate to how hard I am working. There is still some confusion though, the heart rate maximum when I check out the exercise rate peaks at a higher level than it shows in the regular heart rate graph at the same time.

The really confusing thing it reports to me though is my sleep pattern, which only seems to record the amount of sleep I have had since I last got up to go to the bathroom, It appears that I am truly sleep deprived. I am also baffled by how many flights of stairs I have climbed each day. I am still confused about whether I am fit or not, but I am still going to wear my Fit Bit anyway.

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  1. Lol. Glad to see you back at your always entertaining and informative blog, Tim. If a FitBit doesn’t get the difference between walking and cycling, should you be using a Garmin instead? I love that the sleep detector doesn’t provide for people 70+ (and younger), who are up every few hours. We need to design a specialized FitBit for seniors who cycle!

  2. I was simply reacting to allegations that I had given up io blogging. Mainly it was because of the weather, there will be another one tomorrow

  3. Duncan MacDonald permalink

    Thanks again

    Been thinking about one for 2 years

    Will have to get on it. Birthday coming up

    Duncan MacDonald
    Duncan L MacDonald, CPA
    111-364 York Street
    Fredericton, NB E3B 3P7
    Phone: (506) 458-8328
    Fax: (506) 459-0518

    This is a confidential business communication. If you have received this communication in error kindly delete the communication and notify the sender of the error. Reproduction, transmission or other use of this communication by person not employed by D L MacDonald, CPA is prohibited without the permission of the sender.

  4. Robins email permalink

    I used to have a fitbit and also found it a bit confusing. I’m using an iWatch nowadays but I’m not convinced it’s any better.

    Glad to hear you are monitoring your heart dad,

    Love, Robin


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