If you haven’t taken part in a Fitbit step challenge, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re motivated by competition (invite friends and family to an official Challenge, join a group, or track your spot on your seven-day friends leaderboard) or would rather just compete against yourself (start an Adventure), there’s something for everyone.
Plus, internal research shows that people who participate in both Fitbit Adventures and Challenges walk 2,000 more steps per day than those who haven’t participated in a challenge. So even if you lose, you win. (Sometimes literally: Participating in weekly challenges helped one user drop 50 pounds!)
There’s really no downside to giving Fitbit step challenges a shot. But if you’re going to compete, you might as well try to win, right? Below, seven ways to set yourself up for success, plus two tactics that aren’t worth your time.
How to Dominate Step Challenges
Opt into updates. When it comes to time-based step challenges, knowledge is power. Knowing where you and your competition stand not only provides motivation but also gives you a short-term goal to shoot for. There are a few ways to get more info.
First, after you join a Fitbit Challenge, click “Options” at the top right of your Fitbit app and make sure “Do Not Disturb” is turned off. This will allow updates to come through.
Next, log in to your fitbit.com dashboard and click the gear icon in the top right. Select “Settings” then “Notifications”. Now choose to get alerts via your mobile phone, email, or both (depending on what’s possible) for the following three things: low battery, step goal milestones, and cheers and taunts. Now you’ll never be caught off guard.
Turn on Reminders to Move. Your Fitbit tracker or smartwatch can be set to give you a gentle vibrational nudge 10 minutes before each hour if you haven’t taken 250 steps. Just select the Hourly Activity tile on your dashboard and then the gear icon in the top right corner. Turn Reminders to Move on and then adjust the hours and days it’s active—the more the better.
Set extra alerts. Taking 250 steps an hour is really the minimum amount you should be moving. Schedule more walking time into your day by adding it to an electronic calendar. If you own a Fitbit Alta, Fitbit Alta HR, Fitbit Charge 2, Fitbit Versa, or Fitbit Ionic and turn calendar notifications on, your device will alert you when it’s time to walk.
Multi-task. Building more movement into your day doesn’t have to be completely pre-planned. Instead, just rethink common activities. Brushing your teeth? Do it while you walk. Have to take a phone call? Pace the halls. Watching TV? Walk during commercial breaks.
Interact with your competition. Challenge participants can see each other’s profile photo, posted messages, total steps in the challenge, goal progress, and achievements. Use this to your advantage by cheering other people on and leaving them encouraging messages (they may do the same for you!) or taunt them with some friendly trash talk. The more active and involved your competitors are, the more likely you will be, too.
Always carry your phone. Why? If you ever forget your tracker or it runs out of batteries, you can turn on MobileTrack. MobileTrack lets you use the Fitbit app without a Fitbit tracker by using your phone’s sensors to track basic activity data, including steps, distance, and calories burned. Just log into the app, tap or click the Account icon, choose the option for setting up a new device and follow the MobileTrack instructions.
Turn on all-day sync. Or at least get in the habit of syncing via your phone. Here’s why: After a Challenge ends you have 12 additional hours to sync your tracker, and chances are you’re more likely to be near your phone than a computer.
If you prioritize staying on top of your friends leaderboard know that the time cutoff is even tighter. This leaderboard represents a rolling seven-day step total. So it takes into account the total steps you’ve taken over the previous six days plus anything you’ve done today. At midnight, the 7th day drops off and your next day begins counting toward your total. Competitors syncing through a phone have a distinct advantage over people who need to be near a computer to update their totals.
Two Step-Challenge Cheater Tactics That Won’t Work
Shortening your stride length. The leaderboard step count totals are only based off the number of steps counted by your Fitbit device or MobileTrack. Stride length does not in any way affect step count. In fact, it’s only used to calculate distance.
Manually entering steps. Manually logging extra steps and activities will not count towards your leaderboards, activity groups, or challenges. This is to help deter the small number of users who may be tempted to cheat. However, if you did do some extra stepping and want to manually log them, you’ll still get credit on your dashboard and activities page.
How do you stay competitive during Fitbit step challenges? Share in the comments below.
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.