Fitness is just as important for disabled people as it is for abled people but it is more difficult when you have a disability because most apps are not designed with disabled people in mind. Fitness trackers can help improve your fitness because it lets you know how active you are but when you have a physical disability you may be hesitant to buy one because they are not geared toward the disabled community. I got a FitBit for my birthday and at first, I was not sure how much use I would get from it because I have always thought these trackers were centered around steps which is wildly inaccuarate for me. The step count is not the most useful tool for a disabled person but thankfully it’s not the only useful took FitBit has. that can benefit disabled people. How can people with physical disabilities use a FitBit to improve their fitness? In this post I am going to talk about how I have used a FitBit to improve my activity level while still living with physical challenges.

Tracks your sleep- When you have chronic pain often you don’t have the best sleeping pattern because pain makes it difficult but most people don’t actually know how much they are sleeping. Some people may have an idea of how much they slept and know if they slept well based on how tired they feel but are you sleeping enough? The FitBit has a tracker where it monitors your light, deep, and rem sleep while also telling you how restless you were and how long it took you to fall asleep. What I have learned about my sleep is that I don’t usually sleep more than five and a half hours at a time which is okay because I usually take a nap to make up for lost time. It’s always helpful to know how I am sleeping so I can try to improve my sleep or at least avoid long naps if it’s not necessary.

 Keep track of your water- Drinking enough water is important for everyone but sometimes it can be really hard to drink enough water when you have so much going on. Since the day I was born I have always been told that drinking lots of water was very importnat for me because I am more prone to bladder and kidney infections than most people. I try to drink lots of water but sometimes I am get busy and am not the great at it or just lose track how much I have had that day. The FitBit app has a water tracker that you can sync to your FitBit so you can easily keep track of how much water you have had and it also tell you how much water you should have based on your body weight. I never knew how much I was drinking before but now I aim for sixty ounces of water or more. I always drink a little more than what my FitBit say because I have no idea how much I weigh and can’t accurately weight myself so I always have to guess my weight. I never know if it’s more or less than what I am putting so I like to play it safe by drinking a little more water than my tracker tells me to drink because I don’t want to get dehydrated!

The steps are not totally accurate– When I first got the FitBit I knew that the step goal was not going to be accurate for me as disabled person because walking ten thousand steps is not a realistic goal for me. Most people are able to do that easily by going on a long walk and then doing a work out but I can’t do that without extreme fatigue. I can do maybe one of those things but not both so I get about three or four thousand steps after my thirty minute arm routine because my FitBit is confused and thinks I went for a swim. The goal my FitBit has set for me is unrealistic and I will never reach it so I set a more realistic because there is no point in having a goal you will never reach. The tracker is not totally accurate and that is okay because it doesn’t have to be and as long as your moving that is the most important part. The FitBit does have an exercise mode so if you were lifting weights you could turn on that setting and it would do your calorie burn differently. If you are a wheelchair user the apple watch does have wheelchair mode that the FitBit does not have that might be better suited for your unable to walk.

It notifies you when you get a phone call– If you have a physical disability you can understand the aggravation of getting a phone and your phone being on the other side of the room only for it being spam. I can’t dart to the other side of my house to answer a phone as quickly as abled people can and it usually takes me some time to get up and answer when people call me. The nice thing about a FitBit is your wrist buzzes when someone is trying to call or text your so you know when you should look for your phone and when you don’t have to. You can’t answer it like you can on the apple watch but it’s still helpful knowing when someone is trying to call me because I almost always keep my phone on silent.

Monitors your heart rate-My heart rate runs kind of high and that could be from anxiety or pain but I cannot be sure because I have not ever mentioned it to my doctors to have it investigated. I don’t ever mention this kind of thing to my doctors until I have some sort of data because I will just be put on a heart rate monitor which in my experience gets in the way of things and is a pain. When I was getting diagnosed with seizures I had to go to a cardiologist to rule out heart problems and they put me on a heart rate monitor for thirty days and I couldn’t get rid of that thing fast enough. The cords were horrible and got in the way of everything which is kind of annyong for abled people but when you walk with crutches you literally can’t do squat without tripping. The Fitbit monitors your current heart rate and resting heart rate which is helpful because it helps me keeps track of my current and resting heart rate so I can plan activities accordingly.

Logs your food- When I was under-eating calories I would log my food to make sure I was eating enough. Thankfully I don’t have to do that anymore because I have figured out how much I need to eat and it’s automatic for me but not everyone is going to be that. If you are watching what you are eating the FitBit app has a calorie counter where you can log your food and make better choices. I don’t use it but many disabled people really struggle with weight management so this can be helpful for many trying to get back on track because sometimes we are eating less healthy than we actually are. It’s helpful to keep track of it so you can be more aware and make healthier choices. 

I have wanted to get a fitness tracker for a long time but have been hesitant because every tracker and fitness app I have used has had maybe one feature that was benefical to me so I was excited when I so that the FitBit had several. There are some features on the FitBit that I don’t really benefit from because it was primarily designed for abled people without the disabled community in mind so I just don’t use those features. I kind of wish I could disable the steps because it’s discouraging to see how many steps I get in a day and even more discouraging when I realize half of them are probably from arm circles. This fitness tracker has helped me improve my fitness but I am only speaking from the perspective of one disabled person and I can’t speak for all disabled people. The FitBit or any other fitness tracker may help some disabled people but not be helpful to others especially to those who cannot exercise. Do you have a favorite fitness tracker? What fitness trackers have you found most helpful for improving your activity level?

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