Let’s Get Visual

At the university where I work, every spring there is a 12-week community fitness program, called Getfit MIT,  in which teams of 5 to 8 people compete against other teams for overall participation rate and participation improvement. Each individual has a web-based account tied to her team’s account, and, to be successful, individuals must meet the reasonable quotas of weekly exercise minutes and log those minutes on the system. No one has to be the fastest or the strongest in a particular sport to win. Participants must be regularly active in ways that they choose.

Getfit screenshot

This is my fourth year doing Getfit, and I love it. Although my teammates and I do not always exercise together, I like seeing online my own minutes and their minutes accumulate. I like that goals for the first week of the program is reasonable — 150 fitness minutes total — and that the goals increase incrementally each week. We just completed Week 8 with a goal of 245 minutes.

I must admit, too, that I like the bit of competition it prompts, and not just competition with other teams. I might see the total minutes logged by the top member of my team one week, and think to myself, “I’ll beat her next week.” (This is a secret competition, known only to me.)

I also like seeing the record of what I’ve done in a visually motivating way: most weeks I surpass the goal set by the program, and the graph of my data compared to the expected data is like a star on my forehead or good report card on the refrigerator. I know it’s automatically generated, but it feels appropriately enthusiastic, which feeds my enthusiasm.

As a person with diabetes, I know I should keep daily records on more than my exercise. Insulin, blood glucose, and diet histories would also be useful to track and graph. I must confess to being inconsistent with keeping such records, beyond the ones that my glucose meter keeps automatically.

What I like about the Getfit platform — and what I’d like to find in a web-based diabetes log — is the goal setting and the simple feedback, which you can see in the screenshot above.

I know that there are some interesting web apps for diabetes out there, and I’ve tried some. I haven’t stuck with them, though, and that’s more the fault of diabetes than the apps — there are so many daily events (meals, snacks, illnesses, doses, activity, etc.) to keep track of that I don’t take the time to stick with any app I’ve tried.

Perhaps if a diabetes app had a team or community program to cheer me, to help me feel a part of something like Getfit does, I’d be more motivated to do the hard work of keeping regular records.

Jane Kokernak
Jane Kokernak

Jane Kokernak teaches in Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science as communications specialist, working with graduate students and faculty on writing and speaking to different audiences. She lives with her family and dog near Boston. In 1992, as an adult, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes; in 2003, she switched from multiple daily injections to an insulin pump and has stayed with it. A contributing writer to ASweetLife since 2010, she is especially interested in how having a chronic illness affects self identity and perceptions of health.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Catherine Price
12 years ago

Sound like a lot of fun. I log all my runs into a spreadsheet and I also have them all with the rout, speed, pace… and all kinds of visual graphs on the Garmin software and website. I love it.
I also have Medtronic carelink. but it’s not very interactive and much less fun. I do however log my BS into my pump must of the time so I do have a log. I imagine I would spend more time “playing” with it if I had a CGM. 

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x