Health + Beauty

Tracking Goals with the Nike+ FuelBand


january nike fuelband

I bought a Nike+ FuelBand last year but never really did much with it except for sporadic days when I remembered to put it on. I did wear it during Portland to Coast¬†last year though, and I totally crushed my 2000 “Fuel points” (whatever those are) goal. After that however, the sad little wrist band sat lonely on my desk, being used as a very expensive paper weight for my to-do lists. Oops.

This year though, I made a goal on a whim, to log 2,013 miles in the year 2013. It seemed like a very reasonable goal to spread out over a whole year.

Then I did the math.

5.515 miles PER DAY.


Not being one to quit before I’m even out of the gate (oh, I’ll stretch things out, but I hate quitting) I decided to include all movement activities in my total: walking, running, dancing, biking, stair climbing, etc. Surely it won’t be a problem to reach this daily goal! I decided that the best way to track this would be to count steps, since I can’t wear a GPS tracker all day long, and I really don’t want to spend all evening retracing my every step on Map My Run.

So this is how my FuelBand got a second change at fulfilling it’s purpose in life (sorry I’m being a little dramatic). But first, I had some math to figure out – particularly, how many steps do I take in a mile? I also wanted to find out how many steps it takes to get to ‘goal’ on the FuelBand.

The internet says that the average person takes between 2,000 and 2,500 steps/mile depending on height, making the average step length 2.5 feet. And we all know how accurate the internet is, right? I decided to do my own experiments (paper, water, measuring tape) to figure out my own step length, and it turns out I have the legs of someone who is 4’10” tall.

I’m 5’6″.

Hahahaha! Thanks for the laugh, internet.

My average walking step length is 22″. It of course will be different for other activities (like running from zombies, for instance) but for now I’m keeping it simple and using the 22″.

There are 63,360 inches in a mile, so on average, it will take me 2,880 steps/mile.

2,880 x 5.515 = 15,883.2 steps/day.

I also calculated that 5,000 steps on the Nike+ FuelBand = 2,000 NikeFuel points (I really have no idea what their “formula” is for the Nike fuel points, and I’m pretty much convinced it’s entirely based off of the ‘steps’ calculation).


january nike fuelband graph

This is a screen grab of my Nike FuelPoints activity for January so far. Since I calculated the relationship between the steps and points, I upped my daily goal to 6,400 fuel points (the green line). So far… so bad. Oops.

Now that I’ve been wearing it long enough to give some personal opinions, I have to say that I do like trying to reach the fuel points goal. I also like being able to see my steps right on my wrist and it has been a pretty big eye opener for how sedentary I am all day.

That being said, I’m not totally thrilled with it. Below are some total measurements that go along with my usage so far this month:

january nike fuelband totals

  • Avg NikeFuel/Day: Accurate for its own measurement
  • Steps: Suspect
  • Calories: Not even worth considering
  • Distance: Wrong
  • Active time: How exactly is that measured?

My biggest problems with the steps count is that your arm has to be in motion to get it to register. So it will count if I’m sitting at my desk and move my arm to grab something on the other side of my desk, but it won’t count it if my hands are in my pockets, or I’m holding on to my purse while actually walking. I’ve also tested it while counting my steps around my office building, and it consistently registers too many… is this to make up for the times when it doesn’t count at all?

For now, I’m sticking with it. It may not be all that accurate, but I definitely do need to be more active and working to get higher numbers in NikeFuel (thus more steps) is a decent start.

I do want to be able to accurately count my steps though, so I’m on the look out for something better. Perhaps the FitBit Flex when it comes out this spring!


Do you use a pedometer? Do you have a brand you would recommend that you think is accurate?

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  • Reply Sylvia @cowgirlwarrior January 29, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I have the fuel band and got annoyed with it being entirely dependent on arm movement and the arbitrary “fuel” measurement. I switched to FitBit and love it. Measures steps better, plus shows miles on the display. I have the One model. I wrote a post comparing a weeks worth of data from the fuel band and the fitbit.

    • Reply Tiffany January 29, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Awesome, I’m heading to your blog now thanks! You’d think for how expensive it is, it would actually DO something right, right?

  • Reply Pamela January 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I too have a Fuelband and would love to compare with the FitBit Flex. I find the same challenges. What in the world is Fuel? I get frustrated knowing I am working it with push ups and mountain climbers but not earning Fuel. Still, I like the data. It helps me remember to move on blogging/programing days and lazy Sundays.

    • Reply Tiffany January 29, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      I’m a data nerd, so I’m with you on that. :) I’ve considered trying to somehow attach it to my gym shoes to see how different the results are.

  • Reply Melissa @ Melissa Running It January 29, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve had my FuelBand for about a year now as well. It was my replacement to the Jawbone UP that failed miserably, but it definitely doesn’t track accurately as you mentioned. It’s great for the reminder that low fuel midday means I have sat on my butt for way to long at the office, and they do have some challenges that are helpful to get moving.

    As far as accurate tracking, the Jawbone seemed to track more accurately, but I’m thinking a FitBit or old school pedometer would serve your purposes better. :)

    Great review!

    • Reply Tiffany January 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      I’ve heard of the challenges but keep forgetting to look at them, thanks for the reminder! I have to admit, I’m always pushing the button to see where my fuel is at when I’m stuck in my chair at work. I’ve gotten up a lot more to walk around, or do some squats. :)

  • Reply Gentoku January 30, 2013 at 8:16 am

    The funny thing is no matter how you track exercise, fuel band, pedometer, exercise log, or whatever other method, it makes you more active.

    Just paying attention helps you fix the problem itself. It doesn’t change everything, but it makes the space fo change. I recently wrote a post about how paying attention can make a world of difference.

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