How Can A Fitbit Benefit The Elderly : A Practical Guide

Wearable tech is now a big part of elderly care provision. Senior citizens need to work out if they are going to be able to stay healthy and active. Fitbit is one of the trusted fitness trackers that can provide clear health-related feedback about a person. But these fitness trackers do more than just track exercises. They can also track sleeping patterns and eating habits, among other things.

The question is can a Fitbit benefit the elderly? The simple answer is yes.

I will go into more depth around the benefits of exercise and using a Fitbit, in this article.

Is Fitness That A Big Deal For The Elderly?

Fitness is essential for the elderly, just as it is for younger people. Experts say that the older you get, the more you need to work out. Sedentary living, though seemingly the easiest path for the elderly, can easily attract illnesses.

Naturally, the immune system grows weaker the older someone becomes. Keeping fit is one of the proven ways to help strengthen the immune system. When a senior does regular moderate exercises, their cells move more freely, and their natural defense system performs better.

Many Seniors Want To Be Able To Live Independently For Longer

Yes. That’s a universal desire among the older generation. Now, remember that immunity is not the only thing that benefits when a senior works out. Regular workouts among the elderly improve strength and mobility.

Back in the 80s, everybody, including scientists, believed that loss of strength, mobility, balance, and flexibility was a natural part of aging. They thought that older people/* would naturally have difficulty walking, kneeling, and stooping.

A hallmark study in 1994 changed everything. This study showed that functional losses in the very old could be reversed, no matter how frail they became. A few exercises three times a week drastically changed the strength and mobility of 72-98-year-old women in nursing homes. Therefore moving muscles, even at an advanced age, can be the key to a better life.

Do Fitness Trackers Work

How Does A Fitbit Fitness Tracker Help With That?

A fitness tracker from Fitbit helps with health monitoring and goal setting. As is with everything else in life, it can be hard to achieve optimal fitness without setting goals, for instance, weight, distance covered in exercise, and calories burnt. Seniors can perform moderate activities while wearing this device, and it takes the right measurements to inform your care provision.

The data collected from these devices provides a clear direction on what needs to happen for seniors to stay healthy. It could be an adjustment to their sleeping habit. It could be that they need to move more than they currently do. Aside from pinpointing the areas of need, these devices could just be plain simple motivators.

When a senior does a little bit of jogging in the morning, for instance, everything is recorded, from a distance covered to heart rate and calories burnt. This information could serve as their benchmark tomorrow, where they can improve from that. And because exercises get harder when a person grows older, looking at these daily accomplishments could be an incredible motivator.

Is It Harder To Exercise As An older Adult? Why?

When a person grows older, their metabolism starts to slow. That means that their overall energy declines, and they wouldn’t feel that enthusiastic about working out because naturally, they don’t have extra energy to spend. Also, cartilage and joints wear out; making workout attempts a real pain. Muscles become weaker, too, as part of the aging process.

Can A Fitbit Benefit The Elderly

How Can An Elderly Person Keep Fit Despite Their Biological Changes?

Here is where it gets interesting; a lack of exercise can start and accelerate the above challenges. But seniors that get a regular workout get to age gracefully. That is to say that they will feel more energetic and move about more. As a result, they become less susceptible to falls, injuries, anxiety, and other health issues that follow after their 50th birthday.

So the first step to overcoming obstacles to fitness for seniors is to start moving. It would be helpful to start slow and build up the energy and tempo as time progresses. It would also be critical to measure power output and bodily reactions and changes to every routine. Using a Fitbit tracker helps to measure these parametric and guide the senior through unfamiliar territory.

Hopefully, it’s clear now just how exercises are helpful for the older person and how they can slow down the aging process. But remember, these workouts must be done with safety in mind: A workout routine for the older person should not be the same as a routine for a twenty-something man or woman.

For instance, too long a run can increase a senior’s blood pressure and put them at risk of blood clots. It can also overwork their hearts, and while that happens, they might also be in severe joint pain.

Training Safely

These devices, linked to apps, are helpful when it comes to building a safe workout program for the older person. They can help to pace and space workouts, for instance, daily or weekly. And because they’re worn during an exercise, all data is collected. They can then use this information to set and adjust goals as they gradually build strength.

Daily goals: The number one safety tip for the older person is to stop when the exercise gets too painful. They shouldn’t experience any extreme pain in the chest or other areas. Thankfully, the Fitbit trackers allow you to set manageable daily goals that a senior person can build upon every day. You can set and change goals in the Fitbit app settings.

Vibrating alarms: Everybody tends to zone out when they exercise. In this case, it could mean that the senior runs more than their body can handle. The prolonged workout then leads to aches and risks of injuries, as earlier described. That is preventable with the timing function on every Fitbit device.

For their 20 minutes run at 7 am, for instance, all you have to do is set the alarm for 7:20. The tracker then alerts them when it’s time to rest or end the workout session. This alarm feature vibrates gently on the wrist in a way that they can’t fail to notice. These devices can save a person from the risks of over-exercising.

How Does A Fitbit Enhance An Older Person’s Workout?

The Fitbit will track most exercises, including running, walking, swimming, sport, or elliptical workout. The devices don’t track strenuous activities that can be a danger to an older person’s health.

So, what happens is that the person gets real-time stats when they workout with a Fitbit. The devices can detect any type of exercise and start to track it while sending feedback to the app automatically.  Then again, they can use the exercise menu to select their type of workout, then press and hold the button to start.

During the exercise, they can tap the smartwatch or wearable device to see the stats in real-time. These devices have a big display size for that purpose. The user can also go into rest mode during their routine by hitting the button to pause and hitting it once again to resume. At the end of the workout session, they can just long-press the button to see results.

Workout parameters that you can track with Fitbit include:

  • Distance and route
  • Heart rate
  • Calories burnt
  • Hourly rate

Sleep And Eating Habits

Fitbit devices do more than just tracking a person’s exercise activities. The tracker can work as they sleep as well, and furnish you with details such as the length and quality of sleep. For an older adult, this can be vital in improving overall health.

Sleep and fitness are peas in a pod, and one can never be optimally achieved without the other. Poor sleeping habits can lead to a limited ability to work out and enjoy life. On the flip side, a sedentary life leads to poor sleeping patterns, and the cycle continues.

Older people need 7-8 hours of sleep every day for their muscles to rest and re-set. The data from a Fitbit can help to adjust sleeping patterns by exploring options such as:

  • Going to bed early or a little later
  • Changing the lights in the room
  • Adopting relaxing bedtime rituals such as a warm bath
  • Removing computers and TVs from the bedroom

Fitbit devices and the app can also be reliable diet companions. These devices can track measures such as calories consumed versus calories burnt. The idea is to maintain a healthy balance of appetite versus fitness for effective weight management.

Seniors or their caregivers can use the Fitbit Food Plan on the app, which helps to attain personalized weight goals. What happens is that users log their food intake every day. Fitbit then provides a breakdown of calories eaten and calories burnt.

Types of Heart Rate Monitors

Fitbits Are Multi-Functional

Another thing that might be of interest to seniors and their caregivers is mindfulness, meditation, or breathing sessions. They are all the same thing. And they are very critical in stress management and wellness of mind, body, and soul. Thankfully, Fitbit offers a way to measure and enhance these calmative sessions.

Scientists believe that high anxiety and stress levels lead to heart diseases and chronic conditions among older people. Among the top things that could stress an older person is the loss of a relative or fear about the decline of their health and ability to live independently. And sadly, the refractory period or the time it takes to get over stress is more extended among older people than it is among younger people.

Deep breathing is a stress-busting routine that could greatly benefit older people. During the session, relaxation signals are sent to the brain, which in turn instructs the body to calm down even further. These sessions can improve the sleep quality of the elderly and their cognitive function while reducing their tension and anxiety.

So how do You get started with a Fitbit?

Here is how it goes. The person wears a smart device on the wrist when they workout, sleep, or during breathing sessions. Before that, however, you need to set up the Fitbit account and interface the wearable to an android, IOS, or Windows device.

The Fitbit app set up process is not complicated; here is how to do it:

  • Start by downloading the app from the App Store, Google Play, or Windows Store
  • After it downloads, open in it and tap on Join Fitbit
  • Follow the short step set up process and provide the personal information
  • Choose Pair to connect the Fitbit device to the phone/tablet

Please ensure to provide accurate personal information about the person using Fitbit in the account setup process. This data is used to calculate the person’s Basal Metabolic Rate and Body Mass Index. These two are critical metrics when it comes to designing a fitness and diet plan.

The information is kept safe and private. If they want to keep fit together with a friend or a family member, you can opt to share the information in the Privacy settings.

Socialization Is A Big Part Of The Fitbit App?

People may enjoy the app and Fitbit device even more if their friends and family are on it. The app becomes an interactive place of interest where people can stay competitive and motivate each other to live healthier lives. Friends and family can help each other to set and adjust goals and track progress.

How To Track Fitness On A Fitbit

The device and app come with up to 20 activities calibrated and ready to start tracking. You can also add more if you want to. Go to the exercise menu on the device to start a workout. You will be able to select the favorite workout from a group of many routines. For an early morning run, for instance, tap on Run and long-press the button to start.

You can keep track of the stats during the workout or wait after the training session to access it via the app. You can also set up alarms and reminders so you know when it’s time for routine changes and rest.

Tracking Distance

  • Both GPS and Bluetooth have to be enabled on the Fitbit watch and mobile device to be able to track distance and route
  • The user’s mobile device must be at least 30 feet from the fitness watch during the workout
  • Once you enable GPS, give it a minute for the satellites to lock in on your location
  • On the Fitbit app interface, select the + icon
  • Select Track Exercise
  • Select the activity which can be a run, a walk, or a bike ride
  • Tap the play icon to start the activity
  • After you finish the workout session, open the exercise history in the app
  • You will be able to see the distance covered, route taken, and pace
  • On the Fitbit account, the app will also display stats such as elevation climbed
Fitness Trackers

Measuring Heart Rate

Heart rate monitoring is a critical workout component for tracking fitness. This metric helps to reveal the cardiovascular fitness and intensity of the exercise. As mentioned before, an overly intense workout might not be safe for an older person. Using heart rate measurements from Fitbit can help you calibrate a safe and effective exercise routine.

The Fitbit device measures heart rate by detecting blood volume and flow changes in the person’s wrist. The fitness watch is fitted with a heart rate sensor that uses light to detect these changes in the blood vessels above the wrist. It then calculates the heart rate per minute.

Here is how to help people use heart rate monitoring on Fitbit:

  • Heart rate tracking is automatically enabled at rest and during workouts, except in swimming
  • To see heat rate stats, swipe the clock face on the device and go to Fitbit Today
  • The device displays heart rate at rest, or workout, together with time spent in each heart rate zone
  • You can also monitor heart rate in real-time during a workout
  • There are different heart rate zones on Fitbit, including out of the zone or at rest, fat burn zone (moderate), cardio zone (high), and then peak zone(the highest)
  • To improve the accuracy of heart rate measurements, wear the Fitbit smartwatch on the wrist such that there is good contact between the back of the device and the skin

Tracking Sleep Patterns With Fitbit?

You must wear a wristwatch when sleeping to track the sleep patterns. The device should fit snugly around the wrist for the best measurements. The device then tracks time spent awake, time spent in sleep, and restlessness. You can access this data on the app. Just open the app, and tap the Today tab and select the sleep tile.

You can get average weekly sleeping data, including the number of hours slept, average sleep score, and an overview of the sleep schedules. This data can help to prioritize and focalize your care provision for sleep improvement. You can also set sleeping targets on the app and create bedtime reminders on the device.

How Do I Create A Food Plan And Track Food On Fitbit?

  • On the Fitbit app, tap the Today app then go to the profile picture
  • On Goals, select Nutrition and Body
  • You will find the option to start a food plan under Nutrition
  • Follow the easy instructions to set up the food plan
  • You can add meals by name or ingredients and track calories consumed versus calories burned
  • The app also provides a breakdown of macronutrients in the meals you log, including carbs, proteins, and vitamins

Related Article: 10 Awesome Meal Planning Ideas for Ideal Weight Loss

Related Article: Low-Calorie Meal Preparation: The Ultimate Guide!

Metabolic Cooking Offer

Which Fitbit Should I Choose?

It depends on your needs and budget. You can get a feature-packed device like the Fitbit Charge 3, or stick to a basic one like the Fitbit Inspire. There are even other older affordable options like Fitbit Flex 2. Based on the various models available and the fitness needs of an older person, here are the top Fitbit recommendations for seniors.

The 5 Best Fitbit

1.Fitbit Surge

This one looks like standard wristwatches and comes with many health and fitness features. It has a large display, about 1.25 inches, which could be helpful when the elderly have to look at their stats in the middle of a workout. The characters display in a default zoomed-in mode, making the stats visible even from a distance.

Fitbit Surge is a touch screen device, but it also features physical buttons for the senior’s convenience. Underneath the watch is a heart rate monitor that gives all the useful cardiovascular fitness measurements. You can also expect this device to track distance covered, calories burnt, and steps are taken. Its GPS function locks in fast.

What you might appreciate most about Fitbit Surge for an older person is its easy setup. It’s not complicated. Once charged and on the wrist, you can tap the workout menu and start measuring. The workout could be a run, weight lifting, or even yoga and kickboxing.

And just like other smartwatches, the Fitbit Surge can be interfaced with mobile or tablet devices so the person can receive their messages or even calls in the middle of a workout. And there is a music playback function too, which streams music from a mobile device.

2.Fitbit Charge 2

This friendly fitness tracker features a large display covering the top wrist circumference. A lot of data can be seen at a glance without having to keep swiping. The characters are also large enough to be seen at a glance. You could also choose from a wide range of display color templates with this device.

There is a heart rate monitor under the Fit Charge 2 tracker, which helps to keep an eye on the heart health during an exercise. This fitness tracker is operable via the touch screen, or by the button attached on the side.

Unlike many Fitbit devices that you have to set workout detection manually, this one begins automatically recording the stats when you get into a workout. That makes things easier. And there are more than 19 fitness routines calibrated in there. The tracker provides measurements such as distance, heart rate, VO2 max score (oxygen use efficiency during a workout) and calories burned, breathing sessions, and more.

3.Fitbit Alta HR

The main highlight of the Fitbit Alta HR is its in-depth monitoring of heart rate, rate of metabolism, and general health. Its design is simple, but beneath it lies a plethora of sensors for efficiency in monitoring the health of the wearer.

Its display is considerably large and allows easy reading of stats at a distance. Fitbit has also made this model comfortable on the wrist. It is super light, and its curved shape fits smoothly across the wrist.

Fitbit Alta HR doesn’t have a ‘start tracking’ feature, but it works automatically when you start your workout. It detects the slightest physical exertion and breathing changes and starts logging the data appropriately. Unlike the two devices seen earlier, however, Fitbit Alta HR is not a touchscreen device. Nonetheless, it can be synced to the phone, so the users can get messages and calls without looking at their phone.

4.Fitbit Charge 3

Now, what sets Fitbit Charge 3 from the rest of the models seen earlier is sleep tracking and 24/7 heart rate monitoring. The wearer gets to see their heart rate zone in real-time, whether at rest or during a workout. The device can also track sleeping patterns, and the pace and distance covered during an exercise.

Fitness tracking is automatic. The device comes packed with 15 exercise routines and allows you to set goals for each. Its clock face is wide and easy to read even for elders with declining eyesight. This device is also waterproof and can be used in swimming.

5.Fitbit Versa Lite

Lastly, the Fitbit Versa Lite is more like a smartwatch owing to its large and centered display. Users get to read their stats on this display without much of a struggle.  The display shows time, heart rate, calories burnt, and steps are taken.

Its one-button design makes it one of the easiest to use Fitbit devices. You can also expect nifty functionalities such as the ability to receive calls and text and app notifications. The device offers 24/7 heart rate monitoring and nighttime sleep tracking.


As we age exercising is just as important if not even more so than when we were younger. By using a Fitbit we can ensure that we are getting the right amount of exercise no matter how old we are.

We can set challenges and compare our achievements with each other. Making sure that we motivate each other throughout our lives. Even if you don’t live close you will be able to see each other in the Fitbit app and make sure that we are all keeping active.

References Used in This Article

  1. The Importance of Physical Activity Exercise among Older People
  2. Physical activity is medicine for older adults

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