Activity trackers are great for helping you to get motivated and stay motivated. Whether you use a Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone Up Move or something else, you'll have daily goals, such as a number of steps, miles or calories. See also: Which Fitbit is Best.
As an avid Fitbit One user, I compete not only with myself, but also other friends who have Fitbit trackers.
Top 10 tips to hit your step goal EVERY day
Here are my Top 10 tips for squeezing in those extra steps each day without any major changes to your routine. These work for any activity tracker, not just Fitbits.
1 - If you already walk to work, consider leaving five or 10 minutes earlier so you can extend your route and get closer to your daily step goal.
2 - Always take a lunch break and go for a walk or run. If it's bad weather, maybe you can walk around your office or a local shopping centre instead.
3 - When taking a toilet break, walk to the one that's furthest away: preferably a few floors up or down if you can.
4 - Aim to get up from your desk at least once an hour - walk to the water cooler.
5 - Instead of emailing a colleague go and see them in person. This is much better business practice anyway!
6 - Stairs are your friends. Use them instead of the lift or escalator. The Fitbit One and Fitbit Charge measure how many flights of stairs you climb each day, and the Zip and Flex count these twowards your daily step goal.
7 - Pace around when waiting for the kettle to boil or talking on the phone.
8 - When waiting for a train don't stand still: walk slowly up the platform.
9 - Get competitive. Find friends with activity trackers (it's easier if they use the same system) or compete against yourself. Try to beat your previous best figures, whether that's steps, distance, calories or stairs climbed. Fitbit also now offers challenges you can set between friends. The leaderboard is a real motivator.
10 - Set tougher, but realistic, goals. Don't stick with the same daily goals month in, month out. Try adding 10 percent more steps each week and see if you can still hit the targets.
Fairly recently, Fitbit has added challenges to its app, and this is by far and away the best motivator to smash your step goal over a day, working week or weekend: there's nothing quite like a bit of friendly competition:
Activity tracker tips and tricks
Ok, if you've read this far, you're probably looking for the tricks part of the article. Well, I'm not going to explain how to cheat in order to win, although there are various technically-not-cheating things you can do to boost those steps.
First, it's well known that wrist-worn trackers record more 'steps' because you move your arms even when you're not walking. Fitbits are no exception, and I've seen first hand that you can get around 15 percent more steps simply by switching to a wristband from a clip-on such as the One or Zip. Take up the guitar, and you'll probably see your step count soar!
Here's another 'trick': start doing workouts, either at the gym or at home. Not only is this seriously good for your health, but it will also mean you get more steps. Training can be addictive, so once you're in the habit, it's hard to stop.
If you do wear a wrist-worn tracker, bear in mind you won't be rewarded for lots of steps while pushing a trolley, pushchair or anything else that means you arm isn't swinging as usual. And, for any kind of tracker, it's worth noting that a huge cycle ride will likely be recorded as virtually no exercise at all.
Finally, don't forget that you can add workouts, or other exercise after the fact in most apps. This means that if your battery ran flat, or your just plain forgot to wear your tracker, you should still be able to get the steps back. In the current Fitbit app, for example, go to the day on which you did the activity, tap on Track exercise, then the stopwatch icon in the top-right corner, then on the LOG tab. Now you can enter the details of a walk, run, jog/walk or bike ride. The steps will be estimated and added to your total for that day.