At the Oklahoma City VA, the MOVE! program recently distributed Fitbit Versa 2 devices to program participants in a pilot program to increase access and use of technology for health purposes.
The pilot assisted with launching the SyncMyHealth data app that allows Veterans to share their health stats through their Fitbit with their health care providers.
“The Fitbit was a great asset to the MOVE! program,” said coordinator Cynthia Thorsen. “Veterans were able to document their weight, water intake and food. It also calculated their steps and even the amount of sleep they got.”
Army Veteran Greg Fumbanks
MOVE! is a weight management health program designed to improve the lives of Veterans through healthy eating behavior and increased physical activity. With the help of VA dietitians and the Fitbit, Veterans in the program can track their health and see where they are doing well and where improvements need to be made.
A great tool for motivation
“We have seen great success with MOVE! through nutrition education, goal setting, encouragement, and accountability,” said dietitian Misty Loafman. “The Fitbit is designed to encourage our Veterans to set weekly goals and learn from their patterns. Also, since Fitbit has the capacity to challenge others, this is a great tool for motivation and accountability.”
With the addition of Fitbits through this pilot program, the successes are shown in real time for health care providers and Veterans.
“I’m able to track everything throughout the day,” said Army Veteran Greg Fumbanks. “I can always pull up my phone and get an idea of where I am right now as far as calories and my step count.”
Fumbanks has lost 45 pounds through MOVE! He joined the MOVE! program after being diagnosed with high blood pressure. After consultations with his primary care provider and nurse, he met with Loafman at the Lawton Clinic.
“I started at a 42 waist and now I can probably wear a 38,” Fumbanks said. “The weirdest thing about losing weight during the pandemic is buying pants online. Not being able to try them on and trying to find the right size.”
Veterans were very competitive
“Some of the Veterans would become very competitive with themselves and others,” said Thorsen. “They would see their previous daily or weekly data and say, ‘I can beat that.’”
While some Veterans were reluctant to use the Fitbits because it was new technology, once they figured out how to use it, they became more comfortable.
“It was fun to watch each Veteran get more and more involved with the Fitbit each follow up,” said Loafman. “They liked that it offered more than just steps. They loved that it made them more aware of their calorie intake verses calories burned, and quality of sleep.”
The ability to measure oxygen levels and sleep patterns helped Veterans in a way they didn’t expect.
Two more Veterans with great results
“I kind of figured that I was probably sleeping restlessly,” Navy Veteran David Bailey said. “But to see the real raw data of just how badly I was sleeping was a real eye-opener.”
Bailey has lost 55 pounds and was able to take the sleep data to his primary care provider who scheduled Bailey for a sleep study.
“I thought it was just for counting steps,” Army Veteran Rebecca Bone said. “But I discovered after wearing it I had stopped breathing 37 times in one night.”
Bone has lost 30 pounds since participating in the MOVE! Program.
Veterans needing assistance to lose weight and get healthy again can ask their primary care physician to set up a consultation with the MOVE! coordinators.
For more information about the MOVE! Program, visit www.move.va.gov or ask your VA primary care provider.