Are you using your Fitbit to it’s fullest advantage? I have the Fitbit Inspire HR and recently got to know my own device a little better to see what I’m missing.
Let’s start with the functions I was using and how they were helping me improve my health.
This was the reason I got my first Fitbit and remains the most important feature for me. Since January 2, 2013 a Fitbit has tracked almost all of my steps. I can count on one hand the number of times I wasn’t wearing my Fitbit for an extended period (hours…not days) because I lost it, it stopped working and I immediately bought a new one, or forgot to wear it.
Tracking my steps taps into a strong desire I have to compete with myself every day. That motivation combined with an equally strong desire to age well makes this feature truly life changing. If my Fitbit did nothing else, but track steps I’d still wear it all the time.
But, it does so much more.
This is my second favorite Fitbit feature. While it’s not as accurate as a chest strap heart rate monitor, it’s pretty darn close. The goal of cardio exercise, like walking, is to make my heart stronger and keep it strong as long as possible.
One of the key metrics is how my heart is performing, especially at rest. A stronger heart doesn’t have to work as hard which is indicated by a lower resting heart rate. My Fitbit is constantly tracking my heart rate and assigns it one of three activity zones.
This allows me to see if my exercise is pushing my heart out of its comfort zone and is requiring it to work harder. Those two zones are Cardio and Peak. It’s not good if my heart rate stays in those zones, but it needs to go there during intense activity.
My Fitbit uses all that information to give me my resting heart rate. It’s been fascinating, and enlightening, to see how different circumstances impact this. While we were trying to sell our house I was feeling more anxious than usual and that was reflected in a resting heart rate several beats higher than normal.
I like to keep trying different things to make my heart even stronger and drive that resting heart rate down even more.
This feature continues to amaze me. I love how my little Fitbit is able to track my sleep. Not only does it track when and how long I’m asleep, but also the different stages of sleep I go through during the night.
Each morning I can see how much time I spent awake through the night. Many of these wakeful moments I’m not aware of, but my Fitbit is. It also tracks how much of my sleep is Light, REM, and Deep. I can also see how each night of sleep compares to my 30 day average and how I compare to other men my age.
And, then the best part. My Fitbit gives me a Sleep Score. This has transformed the way I sleep. Once again, it tapped into those twin desire of self-competition and aging well. The better I sleep the better my health is and the better I age.
The Fitbit Sleep Score has motivated me to try all kinds of different things to improve my sleep. I’ve changed when I go to bed, how late I will eat before going to bed, as well as what I eat and drink at night.
In the past year I’ve raised my average Sleep Score from the upper 70’s into the upper 80’s with more than an occasional peak into the 90’s. If you monitor your Sleep Score you understand what a big deal that is.
This is one of my Fitbit features that I haven’t paid as much attention to. But, as dive in I can see just how valuable this is if you are not very active. Lots of research is coming out about the dangers of sitting. One expert called sitting the new smoking.
One aspect the research focuses on is extended periods of sitting. The experts recommend we get up and move frequently. The hourly tracker feature on my Fitbit is designed to encourage me to move at least a little bit every hour.
You can set how many hours your Fitbit will track your activity. The default is 9a to 6p. Since I’m up earlier I set mine to start at 5a. Fitbit allows you to choose anywhere between 5 and 14 continuous hours.
The goal here is to walk 250 steps every hour. That’s about three minutes of walking. There aren’t many circumstances where 250 steps is not possible. But, sometimes we just need a reminder to get up and move. In fact, Fitbit will even allow you to set a reminder. If you haven’t walked 250 steps that hour your Fitbit will vibrate
Your Fitbit tracks more than just walking. It also tracks running, cycling, swimming, elliptical, aerobics, and what they call sports. Now that I have a bike for our new home in Myrtle Beach it’s been fun to see how riding it is contributing to my fitness health.
You can customize each activity in the settings. This includes whether your Fitbit will Auto-recognize the activity and you can also set a minimum time in that activity starting at ten minutes.
You can also set a goal of how many days each week you want to reach the Exercise minimum.
This feature allows you to set a weight goal and track your progress as often as you want. You need to manually enter your weight. You can also track your body fat percentage too.
If you have an Aria Smart Scale (made by Fitbit) these numbers will automatically be entered every time you step on the Aria.
Drinking water is one of the most import things we can do for our health. It’s also a very difficult habit to establish. But, your Fitbit can help. You’ll need to set a daily water goal in ounces. And, then each time you drink water you log how many ounces.
Sometimes the simple act of tracking behavior can be a huge help in establishing a new habit. And, you can also scan back to see how you’re making progress over the course of days and weeks.
LOG YOUR FOOD
Lastly, your Fitbit also allows you to tracks everything you eat. This can quickly get overwhelming, but Fitbit provides some tutorials within the app to help you to do this the easiest way possible.
While it may feel like too much, the information Fitbit gives you when you log everything you eat is a huge help…whether you’re trying to lose weight or simply transition to a healthier diet. The Fitbit app gives you a quick breakdown of the macronutrients you consume each day. You can easily see what percentage of carbs, fats, and proteins you got that day as well as how many total calories.
And, because your Fitbit is also tracking your daily activity you can quickly see the balance between calories consumed and calories burned.
Your long term health is determined by more than just how many steps you walk each day. Your Fitbit is a powerful tool that combines your physical activity, your sleep, and what you eat and drink giving you a better picture of your fitness journey.
Some of these features focus on the inputs. These are the things you choose to do, including how much you move and what you eat. Other features focus on the output. These include your heart rate and sleep score. These are the result of your fitness choices and help you make adjustments to get even better results.
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the brand new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and each of these other features to give an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
(By the way…if you use the links above to buy a Fitbit Inspire 2 or Aria Smart Scale this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
You can transform your everyday walking into a fitness activity with The 30 Day Fitness Challenge. The key to fitness success is starting the right way. Too often we get excited about exercise and try to do too much at the start. Wrong move. That’s why so many fitness goals fail. Instead, use this free guide to start a new fitness journey that lasts!
I also recommend subscribing to this blog for weekly encouragement and motivation. Establishing and maintaining a fitness habit is not easy. Receiving a regular article to help you keep moving forward might be the difference maker you need. To subscribe simply click FOLLOW (to the right if you’re reading on a computer or below if you’re on your phone)