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FITBIT: Are you making the most out of yours? My 5 top tips!

1. Challenge friends - Not just the ones on Fitbit but also those on different trackers!

Are you using the FITBIT challenges section yet? If not, what are you waiting for?

Set up a challenge! Invite your friends. There are many of us at Zumba class with trackers on. Why not add your training buddies as Fitbit Friends and invite them to a challenge?

This will motivate you - there is nothing quite as motivating as knowing that you are only 300 steps away from beating your buddy to first position! Get a healthy competition going on and motivate each other … there’s even a ‘cheer’ button within the challenges, you can chat within the challenge and egg each other on. Challenges have a great social element to it and push you that little bit further by comparing your stats and activity with your family and friends.

Now, do some of your friends have a Garmin or use Jawbone Up, etc? You can still compare stats with them. Sign up for Matchup and you will then be able to compete with a load of other trackers - Pebble, Garmin, iPhone, and many more.

2. Forgot your tracker at home?! No problem, you can still use your phone to track in the interim.

I do this ALL THE TIME!!! I get to work and all of a sudden the world crumbles because I was doing really well in a challenge, and yeah, you guessed it I left my tracker charging at home.

Well, no problem! Set up MobileTrack and you don’t have to miss out. How about that? Okay, maybe it’s not as accurate as a Fitbit, but it will do the trick and you won’t lose out on a whole day of steps!

Here’s how it is done:

Open the Fitbit app, navigate to the Account tab, tap Set Up a Device and select MobileTrack. Any time you leave behind your Fitbit tracker, the Fitbit app will default to MobileTrack for tracking basic information about steps and activity until it reconnects to your tracker. AWESOME, right?

3. Customise your dashboard

Not everyone needs the same information on their dashboards. There is stuff you aren’t interested in, and other stuff that you might want to see and are not at the moment. So, switch it up!

What matters most to you should show up first. How do we do this?

Open the Fitbit app and tap Edit in upper left corner. Untick any data that you don't want to see, such as water intake or how much you're moving per hour.

You can also drag and drop items to rearrange the different metrics and show what is most important to you at the very top of your dashboard.

Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET

4. Do you know what your readings mean?

You could be reading your tracker wrongly and this could affect your workout sessions.

First things first. Are you wearing it too tight? If you are, the results could be skewed as a result of your blood flow being affected. Nevertheless, if you wear it too loose, the band can be moving about and not helping with the tracking either. So ensure you have this right!

Some symbols to look out for

‘Out of zone’ cannot be considered as a workout, so start pushing yourself a little harder.

'Fat burn' is a low level zone where your body starts burning the calories. This term tends to be quite deceptive though you see ‘fat burn’ and think this is the best bracket to be on. However, the cardio and peak brackets will inevitably lead to more calories getting blasted in the long run.

'Cardio' as the name suggests, is the best zone to be in for increasing cardiovascular fitness, and is also the target zone for most workouts.

'Peak' is the limit of your physical activity. This can normally only be sustained for short bursts. Training in this zone will make your body push its limits and challenge it to its maximum. This is the zone that will make your body work more efficiently in the future by lifting your anaerobic threshold and making you fitter.

5. Clean it up!

We all use our Fitbit whilst we work out. We sweat and get dirty in class. It’s good to give it a nice clean from time to time!

Give the band a nice rinse and dry after working out or sweating. Don’t fancy doing this each and every time? No problem, give it a deep clean once a week, or once a month (depending on your training consistency).

For elastomer bands, Fitbit suggests using a small amount of rubbing alcohol and a soft bristled toothbrush to remove grime. For leather or metal bands, it suggests wiping the band down with a non-abrasive lint-free cloth and lightly dampening the cloth, if needed. Let the band air dry away from heat and direct sunlight.

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