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Fitbit project in Neath boosts digital and fitness confidence

The Fitbit activity tracker is all the rage at the moment and it’s becoming an emerging tool for digital inclusion work in Wales.

Digital Communities Wales (DCW) has been working with Melincryddan Community Conference and Neath East Communities First on a project that was looking to improve people’s health, while increasing confidence around digital technology at the same time.

Following in the footsteps of similar pilot projects in West and South Wales, the Neath initiative saw five people meeting on a weekly basis. The group used the Fitbit device to measure their activity levels, to see whether they’ve been reaching health goals, while understanding how digital technology can help them achieve this. Fitbits are activity trackers – wireless-enabled wearable technology devices that measure data such as the number of steps walked, heart rate, quality of sleep, steps climbed, and other personal metrics.

DCW supplied five Fitbits and a tool-kit which supported the delivery of the project. During the weekly group sessions they were supported to engage with the Fitbit dashboard online and use other web tools that supported their health and wellbeing. At the end of the project, all participants were encouraged to continue to engage with health and wellbeing activities and to use technology to support this.

Stuart Morgan, from Melincryddan Community Conference, said “It (the Fitbit) is a useful device because it had motivated each participant to achieve the daily recommended steps and look to increase their daily steps. Each person shared in the group how it had improved their wellbeing. The project was a great success, in that two of the participants have got involved in local walking groups and have attended healthy eating courses.“

“During the project the participants were asked if they felt more confident in using technology to support their health and wellbeing. Having the Fitbit had motivated each of the participants to use their phones and laptops to check the daily progress they had made, especially steps achieved. One participant regularly looked for healthy recipes online.”

Mandy (one of the participants) said that being involved in the project had encouraged her to walk and cycle more, which had helped her feel better and improved her wellbeing.

Peter (an ex-veteran) said that being involved in the project had helped him eat more healthily, while the Fitbit encouraged him to increase his daily steps. The Fitbit had helped Peter reach the daily recommendation of 10,000 steps. He also said the group members had motivated him to do this.

Another group member also stated that the project had helped her to feel more confident and the Fitbit motivated her to increase her steps. She now felt more confident in using a computer to access the Fitbit dashboard and to look at other health/wellbeing resources online. Since the end of the course she has joined two walking groups and is doing a healthy eating course. All of the participants continue to use technology to support their health and wellbeing.