The Fitbit is an extraordinarily simple piece of fitness technology with a ton of hidden potential. The Fitbit supplied software for tracking your data is nice enough but for those interested in taking their Fitbit to the next level there is a wide world of cool new things your Fitbit can do, especially when it’s connected to a smartphone. With a few quick clicks over at IFTTT you can do everything from collate your sleep data into a spreadsheet to have your lights turn off when your Fitbit sees that you’ve fallen asleep.
What is IFTTT?
First a quick primer on this IFTTT thing I keep talking about. IFTTT is short for “If This Then That” a wonderful service that I recommend digging into thoroughly. The free service allows users to create recipes using various web apps. For instance you IF might be tagged in a photo on Facebook, you could then have IFTTT save any photo your tagged in to your Dropbox account. That’s just one example, with 100s of device and web apps to choose from there are almost an unlimited number of recipes you can come up with. IFTTT also has standalone apps for the iPhone and Android which allow for even more functionality.
One of my favorite IFTTT recipes is entitled, Email me my Daily Activity Summary. Every day, you’ll receive an email showing total calories burned for the previous day, sedentary minutes, total steps, along with other cool data collected by your Fitbit.
Just the quick reminder can get you motivated to workout as you were sedentary the day before or give you a nice positive reinforcement if you weren’t.
If you really like motivation and positive reinforcement, some recipes will allow you to post a summary of your daily activities to Twitter or Facebook, for you friend and family to see. Tweet when you achieve your daily step goal can offer positive reinforcement when you meet your step goal, Fitbit Activity Summary > Facebook Status offers positive or negative feedback depending on how your day went.
If you really like to punish yourself for inaction, check out “Get an insulting phone call If daily Steps goal not achieved by 10:30 PM.”
Another excellent recipe I use is Get your Fitbit sleep logs as a weekly digest on Sunday morning. It reminds me to try and get to bed at a reasonable hour during the week ahead.
Crunch the Numbers
You’re wearing your Fitbit 24 /7 and it’s collecting lots of data on your personal metrics, put it to use. You can collect and store this information in other formats and locations, and do with it what you like.
Document your daily activity in a Google Spreadsheet, is an awesome opportunity for Excel nerds and fitness metric crunchers like myself to gather all their data in one place and in a piece of software were you can easily chart trends, see progress and check for correlation. For example, I like to look at my resting heart rate over time in comparison to my active minutes per day.
Tracking weight is best done on large scale time, not day by day. With the recipe, Log Fitbit Aria Weight to Google Drive Spreadsheet you can, similarly to above, log your weight and then look at trends down the line. A pound a week doesn’t look like anything when you’re weighing yourself 3 times a day, a six-month trend line, however, will give you some motivation.
Don’t Get Caught Without Your Fitbit
You can’t collect health data if your Fitbit is sitting at home because you forgot to charge the device.
If I get a notification that my Fitbit is low, remind me to charge it adds a note in Apple’s Reminder app whenever it’s time to for a charge. Send an IF notification if Fitbit battery is low is also a good option for non-iPhone smartphone owners.
Working With Other Products and Services
Getting various devices to talk to one another can often be difficult or impossible, thanks to IFTTT you can solve many of these issues. If you own a Withings Scale and Fitbit, you can use recipes to log your weight from the former to the later. You can also get a Fitbit Aria scale to talk to a Misfit device.
Using the Fitbit Beyond Fitness
With IFTTT and a Fitbit on your wrist all the time you have the perfect opportunity to experiment with all sorts of cool home and life automation.
You can have IFTTT text your phone if your Fitbit registers that you’ve slept too long. You could also build a recipe that turns on your Belkin WeMo outlet connected to your coffee maker when you’ve reached 6 hours of sleep to better get you out of bed in the morning. Or for those terrible dark mornings in the winter you could automate your wake cycle by having your Phillips Hue lights come on after a set period of sleep.
With a little ingenuity and very little time your Fitbit can go from helpful fitness tool to a data, notification and motivation powerhouse. And with a little further creativity you can automate your home and life and make some of life’s hardest tasks, getting out bed in the morning being a prime example, much easier.