Gaining Awareness from the Fitbit: Cindy

Fitbit Cindy Walking stationThe Safe Routes to School National Partnership continues to work with participants in Los Angeles County in a Fitbit Challenge. Community members, students, teachers, writers, parents, public agency staffers, business owners, leaders, policymakers and more are tracking their steps by wearing a small device called a Fitbit. What is a Fitbit? It is a sophisticated pedometer that tracks your levels of activity and a great tool for raising one’s awareness daily behavior. We think insights into the built environment can be gleaned from actively engaging pedestrians in Los Angeles County. Here is another interview from a participant, who had never used a pedometer prior to joining the Los Angeles County Fitbit Challenge.

Cindy is a native Californian, Bay Area transplant — now happily acclimating herself to Southern California.  She enjoys being in the urban outdoors of Los Angeles and has learned much from her experiences finding her way with and without GPS, and an often counterintuitive sense of direction.  Keeping active and involved, her favorite activities include bicycling in groups, community events, and travelling.  

The tracking device helped Cindy became aware of her challenges to using public transit and increasing her physical activity levels. In her job, Cindy is mostly sedentary and previously did not have a metric to compare her lifestyle to the recommended daily activity – 10,000 daily recommended steps. The Fitbit effortlessly tracked Cindy’s physical activity data effortlessly and told her that she was under the daily normal recommended steps. This awareness spurred behavioral changes in her routine. Cindy researched public transit options from her neighborhood to downtown Los Angeles, in order to convert some driving trips to walking and public transit, and developed a new morning routine to incorporate more steps.

Ideally, Cindy would incorporate physical activity into her daily commute and take transit. At work, her office provides a walking workstation with a treadmill, computer and telephone. Pictured above. It is a great resource for employees, and one of the ways companies have incorporated fitness into the workplace. At a steady pace for 30 minutes each day, she was able to get closer to her target steps while responding to emails or reading over materials.

Her biggest challenge to taking transit is completing the first-mile and last-mile. The commuter bus schedule in her neighborhood, which she would take to and from work, is plentiful in the morning (trip to work) and sparse in the evenings (trip back home). Also, the walking environment to and from her transit station is not well-lit and not well-traveled by pedestrians. Timing and safety concerns are common grips with public transit in Los Angeles County and barriers for many Angelenos to converting driving to walking or bicycling trips.

Cindy found that her initiative influenced the people around her. Her friends that have a Fitbit – some provided by their employers – are able to compare, challenge and work with each other in gaining their daily steps. In casual conversations, Cindy recommends the device. Additionally, Cindy is a huge fan of open space and the outdoors and sees the Fitbit as a great way to get people out of the gym and more connected with people outside and on public transit. She’ll continue trying to take public transit to work and on her errands!

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