Fitbit for people who walk and bike?
November 22, 2012 2:05 PM   Subscribe

Do you have a fitbit? How to you deal with biking and/or other activities that fitbit does not measure well? Or is there a better tool for this?

I recently got a fitbit one.

I'm someone who walks a lot, and bikes a lot, both for exercise, and as my main way of getting around.

The fitbit, as far as I can tell, is very accurate at logging walking and running, but no good at all for logging biking or other activities.

For some activities, it's pretty easy to just take the fitbit off and log the activity manually. (eg: If I'm going on a half hour bike ride for exercise).

But it's really hard for the day-to-day biking and walking stuff. For instance - I may go out on a series of errands that involves getting on and off my bike a few times, each time doing some walking. Of course, the fitbit logs the walking very well. But it logs just weird numbers for the biking.

It seems like a hassle to log each separate short bike ride as a separate "activity". The hassle is compounded by the fact that, near as I can tell, I have to be careful to know the exact right time I went on the bike, in order to ensure that the activity doesn't get counted twice.

Does anyone have any tips for dealing with this? Alternately: Is there anything out there that's like the fitbit, that would let me measure my biking and walking without too much effort?
posted by ManInSuit to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
(A side question- I feel like all of this would be a bit easier if I could get access to more detailed reports on the fitbit site: That is - if I could see a more detailed version of my activities, I could say "Ah - right - that 15 minute spell of inactivity was when I was in the coffee shop right before I got on my bike", and so figure out the timing better. But the fitbit reports seem like they resist getting easy access to minute-by minute data. Does anyone know if there's a way to do this? Their "premium" account is supposed to offer more reports, but does not seem to help with more detail in this way...)
posted by ManInSuit at 2:06 PM on November 22, 2012

I just clip it to my sock when I'm cycling.
posted by runningwithscissors at 2:53 PM on November 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have to be careful to know the exact right time I went on the bike
If you press start and stop on the device to log the activities they should go straight on to your fitbit activities page. As far as I can tell there is no way to log the type of activity from those logs though so you have to create a new activity log using the times on the auto-created records and specify the activity you were doing, this will overwrite the other activities and update your calories and active score.

I don't think there is any way to get activity data more granular than 5 minute intervals but if you zoom in with your browser you can select individual 5 minute bars more easily and on mouse-over it tells you the time and the calories
posted by missmagenta at 3:15 PM on November 22, 2012

I put it in the cargo pocket of my pants, or clip it to the hem of my shorts.
posted by ambrosia at 3:19 PM on November 22, 2012

Do you have an iPhone? I use the Runkeeper app to log bike rides.
posted by Mallenroh at 4:30 PM on November 22, 2012

I use a Garmin GPS watch and then use the data from the Garmin Connect site to manually log my biking activities on Fitbit's site. It's a pain, but there's no automatic connection between those two sites, unfortunately. And the Garmin gives far more accurate distance and calorie information than the Fitbit does while riding on a bike.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:58 PM on November 22, 2012

Do you have an iPhone? I use the Runkeeper app to log bike rides.

Or Android - but yes, Runkeeper is just fantastic for this.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:18 PM on November 22, 2012

Kadin2048 - Do you use the Garmin GPS watch to log bike activies for regular biking around town, or mainly for workouts?

Deadmessenger, Mallenroh: Is the idea that runkeeper can automatically upload its data to the fitbit site? So you log your bike rides with runkeeper and your walking with fitbit?
posted by ManInSuit at 5:27 PM on November 22, 2012

Thirding RunKeeper for iOS/Android. I know RunKeeper can import FitBit data, but I don't think FitBit is able to do the same with RunKeeper data.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:16 PM on November 22, 2012

With runkeeper - I assume you have to remember to start it each time you get on your bike, and end each time you get off. Is that right? (That's okay, of course. But I love the idea of what fitbit promises - that you can just do all this stuff automatically and not have to think about it...)
posted by ManInSuit at 6:21 PM on November 22, 2012

> Do you use the Garmin GPS watch to log bike activies for regular biking around town, or mainly for workouts?

Workouts, mostly. For biking around town I pretty much know all the distances, so it's fairly easy to log them manually. (I.e. the grocery store is 2 mi, work is 2.5, etc.) If I know I'm going somewhere new, I'll try to wear the Garmin and let it run so I can get the exact distance and speed.

Though I just got a handlebar mount for my Garmin watch, so I think I'll probably keep it with me during more casual rides from now on.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:23 PM on November 22, 2012

Yes - with Runkeeper you have to tell it to start and stop. I don't bike as often as you do, so it's an easy solution for me!
posted by Mallenroh at 10:11 PM on November 23, 2012

Following up a few months later: Moves, an activity tracking app for smartphone, seems to do what I was looking for in this post. It runs in the background on your phone. It uses, I think, a combination of accelerometer info (as fitbit does) with GPS, to track all your movement, and automatically figures out whether you are walking, biking, running, or driving.

I used it for one (very active) day, and it seemed to do a pretty great job.

The downside is that it is, I guess unsurprisingly, a pretty major battery drain (at least on my Samsung Galaxy s3). So I'm not sure if I'd use it for everyday use...
posted by ManInSuit at 1:27 PM on October 6, 2013

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