Find out how you can keep your Fitbit working as hard as you …
Fitbits have been around almost as long as iPhones – since 2009, to be precise.
The world has changed a lot since those days. Fitbit is no longer just a way to get you off your bum by obsessing your step count (though they’re pretty good for that, too).
It is a comprehensive lifestyle platform that can train you to retrain your brain to think and be healthier in many ways. Here are the tips and tricks you need to get the most out of your Fitbit tracker and the great software platform that brings them together.
Add friends for more fun
Using Fitbit can be fun on its own, but it’s much better if you involve a friend – if only to cruelly destroy their step count so you can remotely mock them.
By this point, you may already have a number of friends who have Fitbit accounts, and the app will let you know. In the Friends section, tap the “+” button and at the top of the screen you will see all of the phone contacts that were on Fitbit at any given time.
There are also FaceBook and Email tabs that you can use to give friends a nudge even if they don’t already have Fitbit. If they complain they don’t have a Fitbit, remind them that their phone may be able to use tracking without Fitbit hardware.
Only use Fitbit with your phone
Fitbit works best when you use it with a real Fitbit tracker like an Alta HR. But a number of phones can use something called MobileTrack.
This is where the Fitbit app uses your phone’s accelerometer to count your steps instead of a fitness band.
When setting up for the first time, you will need to select “Don’t have a Fitbit?” Option. Opportunity. Do not you see it? Your phone may not be compatible with MobileTrack.
To see if your phone is on the list, go here. Or download the Fitbit app and check it out.
Customize your dashboard
Fitbit has perhaps the most customizable user interface of any fitness app. You can zap every element of the home screen.
Don’t like counting calories? Blame. Your Fitbit doesn’t count climbing stairs? Gone in a tap. The upside with this is that when you go into the app to check your stats, it’s as clean and clear as possible.
To clean up Fitbit, just scroll down on the home screen, then tap the edit button. You will see a small “-” button in every info block.
Once you’ve selected the ones you want to get rid of, just hit the tick button on the top right of the screen.
Adjust your stride length
We often say that fitness trackers that base their stats on an accelerometer have no hope of being as accurate as a good GPS watch. Nevertheless, with Fitbit you can radically improve the results that you achieve with a Fitbit Alta HR, for example.
You can manually adjust your stride length while walking and running. By default, the app extrapolates it from your height, which doesn’t take into account variables like crazy long legs or a … generously proportioned torso.
That is, unless you have a watch with GPS like the Ionic, which updates your step every time you run or walk based on your actual distance traveled.
Do you have to go manually? You can find these fields at the bottom of the “Advanced Settings” menu. But how do you calculate your stride length? There isn’t an exact science on this as your stride length depends on a number of factors.
However, you can either put a marker on the floor, then run / walk 10 steps, for example, and measure the distance with a tape measure. Or, find a location with a 100 meter distance and count the number of steps it takes to cover the distance and then divide it by that distance. Maths.
Sync with Strava
Fitbit isn’t a ego monster – it knows you’re seeing other apps alongside. However, they can all be friends if you want.
By synchronizing Fitbit with apps like Strava or Map My Run, any additional steps or activities that you “collect” while running with these apps will also be added to your Fitbit total.
However, the exact way you sync services varies between apps. The best thing to do is to simply search for the name of the service and “Fitbit” in your browser. Good ‘ole Fitbit has posted help pages for all of the major partner apps on its website.
Get a weight loss plan
Fitbit has hidden parts that you won’t find until you dig a little deeper – it’s a lot more than just a pedometer.
Creating a nutrition plan is a part that you can find in the settings menu. It asks you how much weight you want to lose or gain, and then set any calorie deficit or excess that you are aiming for. And it lets you know how long the dreary road to your ideal weight is likely to take.
Unfortunately, Fitbit doesn’t make it easier to remove donuts and chocolates from your life.
Try Fitbit Coach for free
Fitbit software actually has two sides: the pedometer and the Fitbit Coach. This is the digital equivalent of a personal trainer with nearly 100 guided workouts and comprehensive programs.
These will guide you day in and day out so you don’t even have to think about whether to do a push-up or a star jump. This part isn’t free, unfortunately – it costs £ 6.30 a month or £ 31.55 a year, but you can get a taste of it.
Go to the Bodyweight Workouts section in the Fitbit Coach app and you will find ten teaser sessions. These have pretty gym-tastic names like Mudder Mayhem and Runtensity.
There is also the much less imposing and shorter “7-minute workout”. With 12 different exercises, this is not child’s play. It’s a good test for your Fitbit’s HR sensor, if one is available.
Go new ways
When most of us go for a walk, it is in the shops or in a local park where the most exciting sights might be some funny dog poo or some particularly amusing graffiti on a tree.
Fitbit offers an alternative, however. “Solo adventures” are a way to motivate yourself to move more. Even when it’s cold outside and the park is even more littered with excrement than usual.
Solo adventures take you through a virtual hike during your day and unlock panoramic images and facts about the trip.
Currently, there are only a few different routes to choose from in New York and Yosemite National Park in California. You can find them in the Challenges section of the app, but no energy-soaked competition is required here.
Scan your food barcodes
Fitbit allows you to track your food and activity. Simply scroll down on the home page and tap the “What did you eat today” button.
But figuring out how many calories each little thing you eat is getting old quickly. Fitbit lets you scan food packaging barcodes to reduce the hassle. It even works with supermarket own-label brands.
Then you just tell Fitbit how much you’ve eaten, and you’re done. Yes, everything – doesn’t sound so incredulous, Fitbit.
Find your Fitbit
Fitbits, especially the smaller bands, have an annoying habit of falling behind closets or finding a home in cracks in the sofa.
Fitbit’s official advice on finding devices is simple, and it can be reduced to “near your laundry basket.” Fortunately, there is also an app that can help.
Finder for Fitbit (Android, free) and Find my Fitbit (iOS, € 5.99) use your Fitbit’s Bluetooth signal strength to determine how close it is to your phone.
You can use them like a Fitbit dowsing rod. It won’t work if your tracker runs out of batteries, but one of the joys of a Fitbit over an Apple Watch is the long-lasting batteries.
Unlock new tricks with IFTTT. free
The wonderful world of IFTTT (if this, then that) has you unlocking a ton of nice new Fitbit-related features. And you can try them out by simply downloading the IFTTT app and choosing one of the many pre-made applets.
Some sound sensible, maybe a little too sensible. For example one that logs the progress of your Fitbit steps in a Google Doc. Others are downright weird, like someone who sends you an “offensive” phone call if you don’t meet your step goal by 10:30 PM.
What gets you moving, right? You can also create your own applets, for example to control your smart home equipment based on your Fitbit activity.