fitbit

Activity trackers have made getting in shape and staying that way easier than ever. Things like steps walked, calories eaten, heart rate, and even sleep patterns can now be analyzed by simply wearing a sensor the size of a small wristwatch. One of the best-selling and most reliable activity trackers is the Fitbit, available in a variety of models including the Flex, Charge, and Blaze.

Take a look at these 9 tips to make the most of your Fitbit, whatever the model:

Tell the app which arm you’re using.

Fitbits are better able to track your actual activities if they know which wrist you are using. Inside the Fitbit app on your mobile device, go to settings. From there you can choose either dominant or non-dominant arm. Neither has an advantage over the other, but your tracking won’t be accurate without the correct option selected.

Measure your stride.

Your Fitbit will ask you your height when you first register it but make sure you’ve also set it up to measure your stride. No two people of the same height have the same strides – so it’s important to have this set up correctly.

Adjust your daily step goal.

Your Fitbit will default to 10,000 steps per day as your daily goal, as this is the amount recommended for healthy weight maintenance and activity levels. If you want to go above and beyond that or are in weight loss mode, be sure you adjust that daily goal to match what you truly want to accomplish.

Use the food tracking feature.

Think of your Fitbit as a digital food diary. Instead of writing down what you consume in a day then calculating it to match your activity levels, your Fitbit does it all automatically. You can scan barcodes on food, search a database of thousands of already-uploaded serving sizes and nutrition facts, or enter custom food entries. The Fitbit will let you know if the calories you are consuming are in range for weight maintenance or loss based on that day’s activities.

Track your fitness activities.

Your Fitbit will continue to measure steps and heart rate (if your model measures heart rate) no matter what – but turning on the “track my fitness” feature will activate GPS and give you even more stats like pace if running or cycling.

Don’t forget sleep mode.

Some models can automatically detect when you are asleep and track the stats, but others will have better results if you remember to switch the device to sleep mode before you doze off.

Shut off auto syncing.

Fitbits default to syncing with your mobile device every time they are near each other. For most people this means the two devices will sync all day long and drain the batteries on both. To avoid this, head into the settings on your mobile app to shut off auto-sync. You will just have to choose to sync from the app when you open it in the future but all the stats will continue to tally in the meantime.

Download the desktop app.

If you work from a desk most of the day, be sure you’ve downloaded the desktop version of the Fitbit app. It will give you all the great stats from the mobile app without draining your smartphone battery.

Find friends.

One of the best ways to reach fitness goals is by having friends with similar aims. Connect with real-life friends with Fitbits or find virtual friends who share your aspirations and then cheer each other on. You can also create challenge groups and compete with other Fitbit users in a healthy, fun way.

Do you use a Fitbit? What tips would you add for making the most of the activity tracker?