Did you finally decide to try a fitness tracker?
If not, a fitness tracker is a great way to improve your daily activity levels, kick start a new fitness routine and have fun with friends all at the same time.
Maybe you are trying to be more active or lose weight after having a baby, a tracker can help. Your new Fitbit has preset goals which you can change to customize your tracker to best fit your personal needs.
When you first start using a tracker, I would recommend wearing it for a few weeks before changing any of the preset goals. You will want to get an idea of what your walking habits are like and what your daily number of steps averages out to be. Your weekday activity levels will vary day to day and will likely be different from your weekends. You will start to learn more about your daily and weekly fitness patterns.
By using your new fitness tracker, you will also get an idea of how many active minutes (walking at a brisk pace) you have each day.
Additional stats from your Fitbit will let you know your sleep habits, miles walked, calories burned and more. All the stats are tracked and recorded on the Fitbit app that can be downloaded and setup easily on your smartphone. You can also change the goal for each of your stats to make your Fitbit work best for you. The preset on your new Fitbit is set at 10,000 steps and as soon as you hit that goal, your wrist will feel a triumphant bzzz, bzzz, bzzz. This is your reward for a walking job well done!
Getting Started with Stats and Goal Setting
Once you have worn your tracker for a few weeks, you should start to see some patterns in your daily statistics and walking habits. You should have some idea of your activity range from a low activity day to a higher activity day. You may see that your walking has a range of maybe 3000 to 7000 steps, for example. A more active person may have a range from 6000 to 12,000 per day. Keep in mind, that everyone will have very different stats and activity levels based on their age, current fitness level and type of employment.
If you wear your tracker for several weeks and see that you are averaging about 6000 steps per day for example, you may want to change the step goal to 7,000 or 8,000 steps per day. This way, you get to meet your goal easily some days and have to push your self a little more on other days. If you meet and exceed your step goal everyday, it is time to raise your goal so that you are challenging yourself to walk a little more. Most likely, you got a fitness tracker to motivate yourself to be more active, so get moving more!
In order to more consistently meet my step goals, I decided to break my day into quarters. This helps me to keep my walking habits fairly consistent throughout the day. If I estimate that I am awake and walking around for approximately 16 hours per day, it helps me set mini goals. This makes it simple to break my day into 4 – four hour blocks and hope to achieve 2500 steps during each block for a total of 10,000 steps. For example, by 9am, I hope to have 2500 steps, by 1pm, I should have 5000 steps and so on.
Since I started thinking of my day in blocks of time, I have been hitting my 10,000 steps much more consistently. If 5pm arrives and I have nowhere near 7,500 steps, I will make a point to add in a walk before or after dinner. Now that we changed the clocks, there is more daylight after work and the warmer weather makes it even easier to get outside and walk. If I wait until 8pm to check my steps for the first time, I am not always as likely to hit my step goal for the day. I also notice that if I am ahead of my mini goals for the day, I’m motivated to increase my daily goal (at least mentally) to 12,000 or more steps. This gives me a great feeling of accomplishment both physically and mentally.
As an aside, I get nowhere near 8 hours of sleep at night but that number makes my walking calculations work out more evenly. If I am slacking a bit in my last quarter of the day, I have about 5-6 hours before bed to make up my shortage of steps. Or, if my steps are on target and I sit at my desk for an hour or two, it is forgivable. Of course, if you don’t meet your step goal for the day, nothing bad happens. You can use a less active day to help inspire you to be more active the next day. Don’t be too hard on yourself, especially when you first start tracking your steps.
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Badges & Motivation
The designers of Fitbit are well versed in positive reinforcement and do a great job of cheering your accomplishments! Not only do I get a lovely little buzz and flashing lights and a crowd cheering (that part, I hear in my head) when I hit my step goal, there is more! You will also get a nice notification that you: Nailed It! You hit your fitness goal for today! That is thoughtful of the Fitbit designers, and then they also award you some awesome badges that you never knew existed!!
Here are some of the badges you can earn:
Urban Boot: 15,000 steps in a day
Classics Badge: 25,000 steps in a day
Redwood Forrest: 25 floors climbed in a day
Your first daily badge is awarded for 5000 steps
747 Badge: climbed 4000 floors
Monarch Migration Badge: walked 2500 miles
Your first lifetime badge is awarded at 26 miles
For each badge, Fitbit also keeps track of how many times you have earned it. For example, the Redwood Forrest I have earned 14 times, the Classics badge, I have earned twice.
Friends & Social Motivation
Fitbit also helps give you more opportunities to get fit with friends. Fitbit will sync with your contacts and will let you know who in your contacts also uses Fitbit. The app does this by matching email addresses it finds in your contacts and in their own database. You can add some friendly competition with friends if you like. You can choose whether or not to get fit with friends, its up to you. At times, your friends can help keep you motivated and make you move a little more.
I notice that if I’m very busy at work or otherwise distracted I may not have any time to check in with my fitness friends. When I’m ready to “walk” with my friends again, they are waiting for me on the friends tab of my Fitbit app. Through the app you can send a friend a message or cheer or taunt them as well.
For further motivation, you can also choose to to start a challenge with friends. Challenges can last for a day, a weekend or the workweek. You can choose a challenge and then invite some friends to get extra motivated and stay fit with you.
Goal Day – get as many steps as you can in one day
Weekend Warrior – Saturday to Sunday, see which friend gets the most steps.
Daily Showdown – the winner is the one who takes the most steps in 24 hours.
Workweek Hustle – get the most steps from Monday to Friday
I recently completed a workweek hustle in a group of 10 friends. This was highly motivating and lots of fun. The app gives you updates about who is passing whom and you can see everyone’s steps each time they update on the challenge tab. I did not win the competition but I also didn’t finish with the least amount of steps. I had fun and walked much more that week than I normally do.
If you haven’t tried a fitness tracker, now is a great time. There are many trackers available in all price ranges. You can set your own goals for steps, distance, active minutes and even sleep goals. Fitbit has several models starting as low as $60. Using a fitness tracker is a great way to jumpstart a new fitness routine, get back in shape after having a baby or just maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. If you are using a tracker, what do you do to meet your step goals?