How many times a day do you open the Fitbit app? One? Three? Ten? Chances are you’ve developed a routine and feel confident that you know your way around. And that’s great: Research shows that developing healthy habits is key to long-term behavior change. But be careful not to operate on autopilot lest you miss something. In addition to recent Fitbit app upgrades, there may also be some tried-and-true features you’ve yet to discover. Below, 14 of the best.
14 Features Every Fitbit App All-Star Should Know
Watch your stats change in real time. All of your stats update when you sync your Fitbit tracker to your app. But did you know that with most Fitbit trackers you can see your steps, calories, distance, floors, and heart rate change in real time in your app dashboard? While wearing your device, open your app and allow your tracker to sync. Once you can see the connected symbol next to your tracker image take a few steps and watch your stats respond.
Update your food database. Attention die-hard food loggers: Did you know you can change which country’s food database your Fitbit app searches? This can come in handy if you’re traveling to another English-speaking location (or speak the local language) and are having trouble logging packaged or prepared meals. From your dashboard, tap the Account icon, Advanced Settings, and then Food Database. Then choose the country you’ll be logging from. Just don’t forget to change it back when you get home. You can set up a silent alarm or calendar notification as a reminder.
Count every step. With this trick, you won’t have to endure another “stat gap”—dead zones in your daily activity due to forgetting or charging your tracker. As long as you have your phone nearby, you can log into the app, tap or click the Account icon, choose the option for setting up a new device and and then tap the MobileTrack tile at the bottom and follow the setup instructions. MobileTrack uses your phone’s sensors to track basic activity data—including steps, distance, and calories burned. Going forward the Fitbit app will default to MobileTrack until it’s able to reconnect to your tracker.
Bonus hack: If your friends and family don’t have a Fitbit tracker, they can download the Fitbit app and use MobileTrack to rack up stats and compete against you in Challenges.
Force your app to sync. If you have Bluetooth turned on and your tracker is paired to your Fitbit app, it should sync every time you open the app. If you have All-Day sync turned out, it may update periodically throughout the day. However, if you want to see your most recent stats on demand, you can force your app to sync one of two ways. If you’re using an iOS or Android smartphone, the easiest way to initiate a sync is to touch your tracker image at the top of the dashboard and pull down. Or, also from the dashboard, tap the Account icon, tap your tracker tile, and then choose Sync Now. If your device won’t sync to your Fitbit app, a Bluetooth issue is usually the cause. See Why Won’t My Tracker Sync?
Set when your week starts. When tallying your weekly activity, Fitbit follows the calendar, using Sunday as the first day of the week. But, if you want your Fitbit week to start on Monday, that’s an option. From your Fitbit app dashboard, tap the Account icon then scroll down and tap Advanced Settings. From there, choose Start Week On, and pick Monday.
Scroll through stats faster. Want to go back and look at your stats from a prior day? Instead of tapping the grey arrow to the left of your main goal over and over, hold your finger down on it to accelerate the scrolling speed.
Go micro. Graphs that show how different metrics—like sleep, steps, and heart rate—change over time are great for spotting trends, but sometimes instead of zooming out you need to zoom in. To do this, choose a stat from your dashboard and then select a specific day. Tap the graph at the top of your screen to expand it. By holding your finger down on the graph you can see the specific time of day associated with each data point. This can be incredibly helpful in identifying exactly when your heart rate spiked or when and for how long you were awake last night.
Select the metric you want to see more information on from the Dashboard, such as steps. This will bring up a summary in a list format of your entire history by day of that particular metric. The graph at the top presets a weekly summary but a further tap on any of the days listed will give you an hourly summary for that day in a graph. You can also hold down on a particular hour to see the information in number format for 15-minute intervals.
Get audio exercise cues. For some added exercise motivation, turn on voice cues. Before starting a run, walk, or hike, tap the stopwatch icon, Cues and then turn on Play During Exercise. Next, choose which updates you want—options are: distance, time, average pace, split pace, and calories burned—and how often you want to get them—based on either time or distance. For instance, if you want your Fitbit app to tell you what your average pace is every mile, you’d make sure Average Pace is checked off under Cues and that 1.0 mi is chosen under Frequency.
Capture your commute. If you own a Fitbit tracker with SmartTrack and walk to the bus stop every morning, ride your bike to work, or just tend be active in short bursts throughout the day, you can adjust your settings so that you get credit for each exercise. Go into your exercise settings (tap the exercise tile on your dashboard and then the gear icon at the top right), find the exercise(s) of your choice and lower the default time setting so that your tracker will log the activity as an exercise anytime you do it for at least 10 minutes.
Edit exercise details. Workout summary not quite right? Don’t let the error annoy you. Just tap the tile associated with that specific workout. From there you can tap Categorize Exercise to change how the exercise was logged (for example, as an outdoor bike ride instead of a run). If you use iOS or Windows 10, you can also edit start and end times, distance covered, and calories burned by tapping the three dots at the top right of the expanded exercise summary.
Personalize your profile. With the launch of Community, comes the ability to customize your profile page. In addition to your photo, you can also add a username, short bio, and cover photo. To access these settings, tap the gear icon at the top of your profile.
Control what you share. From your new profile page, you can also now easily access your privacy settings. Tap the tile to set your personal stats as Public, Private, or available only to Friends. To update which graphs (calorie intake, sleep, steps, etc.) are visible from your web dashboard, select the Personal Stats tile and adjust each graph tile separately.
Brag about an exercise accomplishment. Hopefully you’re aware that you can share your dashboard, but did you know that you can also celebrate an awesome workout? Click on the specific workout tile and then select the share icon at the top of the screen. From there you can choose a background (heart rate or impact stats), take a photo, or select one from your library. When you’re happy, tap Share to upload your pic to the Fitbit community or another social network of your choice.
Set your stride length. Fitbit estimates your stride using your height and gender (or by evaluating any runs done using connected GPS). Having an accurate stride length is important because Fitbit trackers calculate distance by multiplying your stride length by the number of steps you take. To find out your walking (or running) stride length, you can manually measure it. Go to a track or another area where you can mark off a set distance. Count your steps as you walk across that distance, making sure you take at least 20 steps. Your stride length is equal to the distance you traveled (in feet) divided by the number of steps you took.
If your stride length is different from your Fitbit estimate, update your settings. From the Fitbit app dashboard, tap the Account icon, then Advanced Settings, then Stride Length.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.