Did you know you don't need a Fitbit tracker to monitor your steps and compete with friends on Fitbit's leaderboard? During the past year or so, I talked to plenty of friends, many of whom are fairly tech savvy, and they knew about Fitbit — some even use a Fitbit device — but didn't know about the MobileTrack feature.
MobileTrack is component of Fitbit's mobile app that uses your smartphone's sensors to track steps, distance and calories burned. As long as you carry your smartphone, MobileTrack counts steps. And you can use Fitbit's Android, iOS and Windows mobile apps, as well as Web browsers, to challenge friends on Fitbit's leaderboard.
Here are five more tips that can help you do more with your Fitbit.
1. Archive weekly Fitbit emails to track progress
Every week, Fitbit sends a progress report, detailing your total steps, distance traveled, floors climbed, calories burned, most and least active days, average sleep, weight change (if you own a Fitbit Aria scale), and your rank on the leaderboard.
I keep all my Fitbit email in my Gmail account and then search for specific reports using the phrase "weekly progress report." If I want to see my stats from two years ago, I add 2014 to the search phrase and scroll to the desired date. You can manually or automatically export weekly Fitbit email to Evernote or OneNote for archiving. Or using a Web browser, you can jump to previous dates in your Fitbit records by going to Log, Activities, clicking on the date (it should say "Today" by default), and then toggling to the date you want.
I prefer the Gmail search method, because the Fitbit email messages show you everything in one place.
2. Get a Fitbit finder app
You're bound to misplace your Fitbit at some point, especially if it's a smaller model, such as the Zip or One, which go in a pocket or clip to a bra strap. Fortunately, third-party apps exist that can help reunite you and you lost Fitbit, though they have limitations. Find my Fitbit ($6) for iOS and Bit-Finder Geo (free) for Android can both help you find Fitbits, and the latter app uses sound to indicate proximity.
3. Use IFTTT recipes along with Fitbit
IFTTT is an awesome, free service that connects two other online services to accomplish something neither of them do on their own. As of this moment, 267 different Fitbit recipes exist. Two of my personal favorites: a recipe that automatically emails my Fitbit sleep data as a weekly digest and another that tracks daily activity summaries in Evernote.
4. Get a Fitbit Aria scale
Watching the pounds add up after a long holiday weekend is depressing. But no matter how decadent a vacation I've had, I always force myself to step on my Fitbit Aria scale ($130) when it ends. The data automatically sync with my Fitbit account, but it is not (thankfully) shared with my friends on the Fitbit leaderboard. And if you have a Withings bathroom scale, you can use an IFTTT recipe to sync data to your Fitbit account.
5. Create manual move reminders
Alta is the first and only Fitbit device that provides automatic "reminders to move," which are meant to decrease the amount of time you remain sedentary. The wristband buzzes each hour if you haven't walked at least 250 steps, and you can customize the setting using the Fitbit app. You can add up to eight silent alarms, and when each alarm goes off you know it's time to get off your butt and move around, ideally for at least two minutes. (Fitbit's $200 Blaze fitness watch should soon get move reminders as part of an upcoming software update, according to the company.)