Kirsty Wynn is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Fitbitting mums get a little bit fitter together

Kiwi mums are raising the Fitbit craze to the next level, taking on other mums in a series of fitness challenges.

Armed with the wrist-worn device that measures the number of steps, distance and calories burned each day, hundreds of mums have joined a new Facebook page that sets challenges and organises teams to compete.

The New Zealand Bit Fit Mums group has gained close to 200 members since it was created two months ago.

Papakura mum-of-two Leah Swailes, with daughter Kyla and son Connor, started the group to increase her motivation and to inspire other mums to get back to pre-baby fitness levels. Swailes said a Fitbit was a great motivator but she wanted the added push from others.

"All of the groups I looked at were overseas-based so people were in different seasons and timezones," she said.

"I couldn't handle the fact people were increasing their steps when I was asleep."

Swailes sets individual and group challenges on the Facebook page - such as the recent Winter Wonderland challenge in which three groups of 10 women around New Zealand competed.

For group challenges, team captains are appointed to keep the group motivated and each member's daily steps can be seen using an app.

The group with the highest combined number of steps wins.

North Shore mum Rosslie Somerville joined because she needed some new "Fitbit friends" and said the page provided a constant stream of motivation.

"The Fitbit is great, especially when you link up with friends, but a lot of people lose motivation after three months," she said.

"You need that long-term motivation."

Since joining the group in April the mum of 6-year-old Charlee and Jasper, nearly 2, has completed a one-day and a week-long challenge.

"There are mums that do 20,000 steps a day and I know I am never going to do that," she said.

"But I see other mums in the same situation as me and I think, if she can do it so can I."

Somerville said she wasn't motivated to take out top spot but instead was striving to improve each day. "I don't need to come first, I just need to do better than I have previously and you get a lot of encouragement when you achieve that."

- Herald on Sunday

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