6 Crazy (and Crazy Smart!) Things People Do With Their Fitbit Devices

Your Fitbit account doesn’t just have to be about tracking your daily steps and counting flights of stairs—although those are great stats to know! By thinking outside the box, users have come up with some pretty incredible life hacks involving their Fitbit devices. For example, did you know that with IFTTT (a website that lets you connect two different apps or devices), you can tell your smart coffee maker to begin brewing when your tracker or smartwatch notices you’ve woken up in the morning? And that’s just the start. Below, six more imaginative ideas.

Get savvy with your smart speaker: You can sync your devices, like the Fitbit Charge 3 and the Versa, with smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa. Just download the Fitbit skill to your Amazon Echo and you can ask questions about how you’re doing that day. A quick “Alexa, ask Fitbit how many steps I’ve taken today,” or “Alexa, ask Fitbit how many calories I’ve burned today,” and you’ll be instantly up to speed on your stats.

Pay yourself for a job well done: Ever wish you could reward yourself for an especially active day? Use IFTTT to sync your Fitbit device with Qapital, a banking app. Decide what goal is most important to you, like calories burned or steps taken, and every time you reach it, Qapital will transfer money from your checking account to your savings account. With enough motivation, after a few weeks, you’ll have enough saved to spend on a fun reward.

Force yourself out of bed: The aroma of freshly brewed coffee might get some people out from under the covers, but others might need a little more motivation. That’s where this life hack comes in: Set a smart lightbulb in your bedroom to blink when your Fitbit device has logged more than eight hours of sleep, and there will be no more hitting snooze.

Figure out who’s on early-morning baby duty: “I used to answer the phones as part of the customer support team, and when we released Fitbit One with sleep tracking, I got the best call,” says Caitlin Doyle, program manager for the wellness team at Fitbit. “A customer called to get his and his wife’s devices set up and we started chatting. He told me that they both need to track their sleep so they could see who won their ‘sleep competition.’ They were new parents and would look at their sleep records to decide who would be first on deck to get up with the baby the next night!”

Learn how different habits affect each other: “I was curious if I could use the data from my Fitbit Charge to get some insight into my exercise and sleep habits—like, did one affect the other,” says Sebastian Prokuski, an engineer for Reflect, a data visualization company in Portland, Oregon. “I assumed that I slept harder after days where I had a longer-than-normal workout, but after I downloaded and manipulated the data, I found out the opposite: If I ran further than I normally did, I had a more restless night of sleep. I decided to tweak my workout routine to be more consistent. Instead of doing one long run and lots of shorter ones during the week, I just added mileage to my shorter runs so that I’m going the same distance every day.”

Figure out when your teens got home: “I would ask my kids to come into my room and say hi whenever they came home late at night,” says Tekla Perry, a technology journalist in Palo Alto, California. “I didn’t always look at the clock when they did this, so in the morning I could check my Fitbit device, see when I had a restless moment the night before, and confirm that they made it home before curfew.”

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  • My son bought me one it came apart fibit replaced it I regret the same result once again strap parted company with the works Tried to glue back together with out success would appear Fitbit and I are not compatible more’s the pity enjoyed keeping track of my exercise routine small as it was.

    • My first fitbit died on me and I emailed fitbit and they sent me a new one. For Christmas two years ago my daughter then upgraded me to a Charge 2, which has been awesome. The strap did tear out after a year of wear and tear (part of my day is on a ranch, so I’m tough on watches) but a replacement strap was easy to find and that one is still holding up fine!

    • I found Customer Service great! I am sure they would replace it again. I personally bought a few different bands from Amazon at a very reasonable price. I love my Fitbit Blaze.

    • Gotta respond to the above comment that seems really left-of-center for this post. I’ve been using Fitbit devices for 4-5 years? Since around 2013. First with the small wrist one–which eventually wore out, but I believe that was because I showered with it on–and now a blaze, which I’ve had for 1.5 years or so. I’m not sure why you’ve had bad luck because I’ve had pretty great results–and lost over 45lbs with Fitbit!

      Maybe Fitbit support can help you, but I would say even if not, give it another try–though I would not wear in the shower (even if it says you can)–it’s when I charge mine. (Looks like the new one they just announced is made to be able to be worn while swimming–so that’s another option).

      Also, wanted to say, thanks for the article. Some clever hacks on here. Quick plug and maybe this is in the works, it’d be nice if my fitbit could record arbitrary data to a spreadsheet…so, if someone is doing a challenge, like the pushup challenge, they could record their results. Food for thought.

    • Hi Colin, I’m sorry you had trouble with your FitBit. Mine has been great! Just wearing it has motivated me to move more and I’ve lost over 50 pounds this past year. You might consider trying a different model, or even a different brand. By the way, I have the Fitbit Blaze. Good luck!

    • I had issues with my Charge (wider, not interchangable) band. I decided I wanted to try the Alta HR. I’ve had it for over a year now and no issues with it! Plus, I get to be fashionable on occasion by switching band out to a color that matches my outfit!
      I’d say give the Alta HR a try. I have not been disappointed!

    • I had the same experience but the straps lasted somewhat longer (as in weeks). The Fitbit was lost after the second strap broke. I thought it was cheap enough to buy a replacement. There’s a metal magnetic strap which (not sure if by design) slides when you flex your wrist excessively/repeatedly esp if you prefer a “tighter” fit. The combination works for me!

    • I got my fitbit for the sleep tracking, I know it can be an exact science but my stats are all over the place

    • Colin:

      The band is a known defect. I had three bands go bad, two of them from FitBit and another I bought on Amazon that was exactly the same. item with exactly the same defect. Even though they know it is their defect, FitBit will do nothing but make sure your unit makes it thru one year warranty.

      Having said all that, the new model, Charge 2, is far superior in every way. Tell FitBit about your issues and ask them for the 25% discount they have been giving to others with the same problem.

    • I have actually had the opposite experience, I tried one from a different company first ($am$ung) and was horrified how often it simply flew off my wrist. The last time it simply fell off while standing, hit the street and cracked the glass front. Same thing happened with my kids devices. They wanted twice the cost of a new one just to repair it, (Goodbye $am$ung) With Fitbit it has NEVER fallen off or the strap broken. It may be that you are simply putting it on too tight?

    • Uh. It appears that sputtering out sentence fragments is the only success you had here. Did you even read what you wrote before you posted it? Putting together the words puzzle you left and attempting to sort it by context, I would offer this suggestion. Buy a new one. Stuff breaks.

    • Yes the same thing happened to mine ,they replaced it but once again it parted from the watch
      So at Christmas my husband upgraded me ,and I haven’t had a problem yet

    • I’m very sorry to hear about your troubles. I lost a Fitbit. Just looked down and it was gone. Replaced it with one with a normal watch band.

    • Colin, several of my Fitbits fell apart. The company replaced the first one. They did not want to replace the second one, but when I said I had been thinking about buying a newer model but would not because they didn’t last, a new Fitbit showed up in my mailbox. Since I DO walk more because of my Fitbit, I purchased a newer model, Fitbit Charge 2 at Best Buy and purchased the two-year warranty — $30 for two years, which really paid off since all three Fitbit Charge 2s broke and got them replaced for free. When I took the last broken Fitbit Charge 2 in to get replaced, they did not have any of those in my size so I upgraded to a Fitbit Blaze for $10 since my warranty was still in place ($10 because the price of their warranty went up, which I was glad to pay for). My Fitbit Blaze has not fallen apart; however, I don’t think it holds a charge for five days — I’m not going to wait for five days to find out. I charge my Blaze whenever I can. I have found out that you and I are not the only people whose Fitbits have come apart where the strap meets the device. Good luck.

  • Not sure you’re serious about exercise if you have to ask Alexa how many steps instead of the exertion of turning your wrist and tapping the device to read it for yourself.

  • I’m concern about what’s being reported on my Fitbit Alta HR. My Fitbit shows workout activities at a time that I have not workout. How can I correct this?

  • I recently was told that I have sleep apnea. WELL I looked at my sleep record on my Fitbit Charge 2 and noticed 9 small red lines on the tope of the graph. Darn if they didn’t match up with the sleep study. So now I know what is going on while I sleep waiting for my sleep apena equipment. As it has shown me that i really have this problems several times a night you may count on me wearing this equipment deligently. Showed this to my pulmonologist in case he sees other clients with a fit bit.

  • The only hacks I want for my Fitbit One are for it to sync consistently (more often than once every two or three weeks, and only after several power-cycles of the device) and to be able to update its firmware. 🙁

    (It stopped syncing regularly several months ago, and in the 3 years I’ve had it, I have never been able to get it to do a firmware update, despite the app always telling me there’s an update available. Got it to actually start updating a handful of times, but it always quits.)

  • Same here, barely lasted six (6) months,and my wife was livid. Considering the fact that it was a gift. Fitbit replaced unit, once again, poor construction caused same result. Sad part is, you only get one replacement within two (2) year period, so I’m out of $

  • Worst piece of crap ever produced, bought one, broke. Replaced, broke,
    two broke, and trashed in less than a year, and someone’s laughing at us on the advertisement.

  • I’ve had my fit tracker for 2 years and have not had any problems I just love that it tracks every move that I make and that it counts all of my steps and tracks my sleep pattern and tells me if I had a wrestles night sleep or not, since I have problems sleeping.

  • Would be nice to use that way, but I can’t get my Fitbit to sync with my phone. So how would I ever be able to do any of the rest!

  • All these “amazing” hacks, and yet fitbit Alta can’t reliably track outdoor bike rides, despite being falsely advertised as doing so.

  • I wish we had the ability to receive push notifications from phone apps that we choose. I sell on eBay and sometimes I’m not able to look at my phone when I’m busy, it would be nice to feel my Fitbit vibrate and let me know I sold something!

  • I just had a Customer Service Chat with Gabby and somehow I lost him/ her and just wanted to let him/ her know how helpful you were . The problem I had was going on for more than a year and could never get any help and it is not solved thanks to Gabby. You are a blessing. Thank you so very much.

  • All these fancy things Fitbit can do, yet they still cannot monitor an accurate heartbeat. I have tried everything, from wearing it 2in above my wrist bone, to normal wear. I’m ready to put this freaking thing around my neck to try to get an accurate heart rate. This is extremely frustrating, especially when I’m trying to see how many calories I’ve burned. I do the Body Beast workout and occasionally P90X , and I just get done doing an exercise and look down on my watch, and it says my heart rate is 120 and I know very well it’s well over 165. I’ve got the new ionic Fitbit. I figured the new technology would be better but I was wrong. The heart rate monitor is only accurate approximately 40% of the time during these extreme workouts.

  • if you reward yourself too much youll have no money in your checking account !?,!

    “Decide what goal is most important to you, like calories burned or steps taken, and every time you reach it, Qapital will transfer money from your checking account to your savings account. With enough motivation, after a few weeks, you’ll have enough saved to spend on a fun reward.”

  • Great article. Thanks for the actionable advice! Love hearing about how people are thinking outside the box to leverage the technology already around us.

  • I use my Fitbit Charge HR and IFTTT to add personal detail to my daily diary app, Day One, but it takes more repetitive editing than necessary, because the Fitbit data provided to IFTTT is so limited, so I only do the editing in batches.

    Fitbit reporting for diary or other textual purposes (Day One, in particular)

    Concept: The existing Fitbit field options for Day One are extremely limited and do not lend themselves well to narrative notation, such as that used in diary entries. I can again provide three examples of using the fields in Day One entries, and the types of repeated corrections necessary to make the field uses seem like natural writing. I am hoping that programmers for Fitbit, Day One and IFTTT can work together to expand the options available for all narrative users.

  • if you go out boozing and don’t pay attention to what time you left the party, you can check the steps record the next day to find out. Sometimes helps understand why you are so tired!

  • I’ve got a Fitbit Zip on the dog’s collar and have been tracking his steps versus mine for the last year .. I also work for a Business Discovery / Analytics company Qlik, so have been analysing and demoing the app to customers – interesting reading! I thought he would do double my steps, not quite it’s about 1.5 and he does much less steps on a Wednesday when the boyfriend is walking him .. 😉

  • Please add the ability to count grams of carbs to help us diabetic people do more than count just calories and see percentages of calories types. The ability to see carb grams would help more than just diabetics as well.

  • You realise this is all very sad?

    I love technology, but (almost) all these examples are about repression and control. Whether it is self-control, or the control of our loved ones.

    Just have a look at the words in the titles: “Pay yourself” (What’s that anyway?), “Force yourself”, “baby duty”, “curfew”.

    Using very personal intimate technology to control e.g. your children’s movement. Instead of noticing when they get home yourself, relying on the technology’s verdict? What’s next? Requiring your children to use punch cards when the exit and enter the home?

    Or using the technology to rule who is to get up to take care of your baby? As parents you should both be responsible and you should not begrudge each others sleep or try to claim your own, basing your claim on cold data.

    The only positive story is the analysis of the ones exercise habits in relation to their sleep patterns. This is acquiring of self-knowledge and insight and might be very beneficial for the user.
    … Unfortunately, also this story is spun in a sad way, by implying that you must be an engineer at a data visualization company, to even be able to reach gain these analysis.

    Sad, sad, sad.
    (and you call yourself a writer covering “happiness”?)

  • The first thing I did on receiving my fitbit as a gift was to change the strap to a metal one – the original one would have brought out my eczema. As I suffer from atrial fibrillation the Charge 2, with its heart monitor is most useful – I can see when I’ve been overdoing exercise and therefore cut back a little.

  • Interesting! I’d like to see more content about fitbit integration with IFTTT, I’m not really familiar with how to use it so I don’t know how to unlock its true potential.

  • I bought two fitbits started with one. After years having epilepsy couldn’t keep wait off. After doing 10 thousand and over each day. I have lost wait was 17 stone now just over 12. Gave one to my partner he does walking with me he to has lost wait and feels better

  • In your article, it says, “Just download the Fitbit skill to your Amazon Echo and you can ask questions about how you’re doing that day.” Great idea but your article doesn’t say “how” to do this. Please elaborate.

  • Great article! I couldn’t get through the first tip with out going to my FitBit app and update my settings to get the most out of my device. Thanks!

  • This seems like a dumb question but if my Fitbit won’t come on after charging this is mean it needs to be replaced?

  • I have found that I spend way too much time with an iPhone game (TsumTsum TsumTsum). I am taking advantage of this by making a rule that I can’t play the game unless I am walking in place. Helps get the steps in..

  • I don’t think it is possible what is described. Fitbit sleep data is not actively synched unless the user initiates it. But then you would already be long awake.

    If it is possible however I would love to know it as there would be a ton of actions I would like to happen when I fall asleep.

  • You can buy a new strap on amazon, or go to London drugs, and make sure you know which Fitbit you have to get the right band, and Tada! Your Fitbit is good as new!

  • I use my Fitbit Charge2 as a bluetooth smartlock on my android phone. That way my phone stays unlocked during the day at work for easy access. But if I go out of bluetooth range, or lose my phone, it remains locked and requires a fingerprint to open.

  • I would like to know how the fit bit calculates your steps….I have the Alta and my husband has the charge 2… one day I walked 3 miles with my walking DVD and did a bit of walking around our neighborhood with my husband….plus I rode my bike….his fit bit said he did 10,000 steps mine was only 7,600…..hello…he sat reading the paper while I worked out and did no other activity…..what is up with that?

  • You might consider writing an investigative article on the many thousands of Fitbit customers who feel cheated because the reminder, alarm, etc. vibrations are too weak to be felt. we invested good money in the products believing they would work as advertised, they don’t. Just check out their own forums and you find several thousand dissatisfied customers. When we contact the company they are clear they have no intention of bringing the Fitbits up to what their ads promise.

  • I don’t find the sleep tracker much help or accurate. I know that I’m getting more than an hours sleep on most nights but my Fitbit Ionic is tracking usually between an hour to two hours sleep per night. Is there something I’m NOT doing to prevent it from tracking correctly?

  • I would just be happy to have a fitbit which synced, anything else would be really fabulous! It only synced when it thinks it will, I’m now on my third fitbit supplied, also my second phone, so the fitbit is really just a very expensive wrist watch.

  • On 02/27/18 Fitbit stopped communicating with Android phone Can’t get phone signal. Always get message stating Bluetooth is not tracking device.

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