​Why Fitbit Active Zone Minutes goal is the next 10,000 steps

How just 11 minutes effort per day will do more for your health than 10,000 steps
The new goal that just replaced 10,000 steps
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If you’ve been struggling to hit your 10,000 steps goal, Fitbit has great news for you. There’s a new goal in town, which debuted on the new Fitbit Charge 4 and is coming to the Versa and Ionic, called Active Zone Minutes.

Fitbit was pivotal in bringing the idea of 10,000 steps per day to the masses – but thanks to new technology, heart rate sensors and algorithms – there’s a new, better metric out there.

And what’s more, you can smash your goal with just 11 minutes activity per day.

While 10,000 steps a day has been brilliant at helping us move more and understand our daily activity, it doesn’t guarantee that we’re getting the 150 mins of weekly exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) recommended by the World Health Organisation.

What’s more, getting 10,000 steps every day is a challenge for everyone. But now there’s a better way.

Active Zone Minutes explained

Active Zone Minutes explained

Imagine you could get your mandated daily activity with just 11 minutes effort per day. And that goal was set to your personal heart rate and fitness level automatically. That’s Active Zone Minutes.

To hit those WHO targets, your heart needs to be elevated to a certain level. Measuring 10,000 offers no guarantee your heart is working to the level you need.

With Active Zone Minutes you get credit for every minute your heart is working in the Fat Burn Zone. You might be surprised, however, that pace is more brisk than you expect – but the Fitbit Charge 4 will notify you when your heart hits one of these zones. Clock up 150 zone minutes over the week (or 22 per day) and it’s job done.

But Active Zone Minutes are even cleverer than that.

If you get your heart rate zones higher, it counts as vigorous exercise – and remember that the WHO says you only need 75 minutes of that per week.

If your Fitbit Charge 4 detects your heart rate has risen into cardio or peak zones you get double credit, so two Active Zone Minutes for every one minute of activity. That means in 11 minutes you’re done for the day.

The Cardio heart rate zone is about 70-85% of your maximum effort and is roughly the level you can run and hold a conversation. Your Peak zone is 85%+, which is an effort level you can't hold for too long.

It differs from Active Minutes, found on other Fitbit devices, by being measured on heart rate. Also, Active Minutes are only earned after 10 minutes of constant movement, while you can earn a single Active Zone Minute just by running up the stairs to your desk.

Active Zone Minutes are personalised to you

Active Zone Minutes are personalised to you

Another reason 10,000 steps isn’t as effective as Active Zone Minutes is because it’s not personal to everyone. Some will find that goal taxing, others will barely break a sweat.

Active Zone Minutes are totally personalised to your unique physiology, using Fitbit’s algorithms. And as you get fitter, the goal will change with you, with no input required on your behalf.

Your Fitbit device works out your resting heart rate, your age, and your max heart rate (using the 220-age calculation) to work out your unique heart rate zones.

That means those that are less fit will not work as hard as those who are. It means the goal is adapted to your personal level, and changes automatically as you get fitter.

Using Active Zone Minutes

Using Active Zone Minutes

There are two parts to Active Zone Minutes – what you see on your Fitbit Charge 4 device and in the Fitbit app.

On your Fitbit Charge 4 you’ll see Active Zone Minutes represented by an icon with chevrons.

Each day’s target is 22 minutes by default – which will take you to your 150 minutes for the week. Don’t worry if you miss a day, you can make it up through the week.

Swipe through your goals to see your total of achieved Active Zone Minutes.

When your heart rate is elevated, you will see an alert on the Charge 4. It will vibrate and you’ll be notified which zone you’re in, you you’ll know you’re accumulating minutes.

Remember, one minute in fat burn gets you one Active Zone Minute, but you get double for Cardio and Peak.

Then there’s the app. Head to the Active Zone Minutes tab from the Dashboard and you can see your total for the day and the week. Use the tab to switch between each view.

Changing your Active Zone Minutes goals

Changing your Active Zone Minutes goals

Some people will prefer to set a daily goal, but actually the WHO recommends a weekly total. Those that enjoy fitness classes, home workouts, jogging or cycling will rack up Active Zone Minutes in big bursts so a daily goal is less important.

For others, it’s easier to grab a few minutes every day.

The good news is you can set different daily and weekly Active Zone Minute goals that don't need to correlate whatsoever.

That means you could set a low daily target, and a high weekly one if you're likely to smash your active minutes in a few longer sessions.

Likewise, you might find it easier to just do 22 mins every single day, which is the current default.

To edit your goal just got to the Fitbit app, tap the Active Zone Minutes icon and tap the tog icon in the top corner. You can type in your own daily and weekly Active Zone Minutes target.

Active Zone Minutes is available on the Fitbit Charge 4, which costs $149.99. Read our full Fitbit Charge 4 review and head to the Fitbit Store for more information.