Your Fitbit and Garmin are WRONG: experts say you may need to do TWICE as much exercise to stay healthy

Updated WHO guidelines recommend more exercise than before. Here’s how to update your fitness watch for the new normal

Fitbit Inspire 2
(Image credit: Fitbit)

Today, we rely on the best fitness trackers and best running watches to tell us just how active we are. It's understandable: although it's not too difficult to feel when our heart rate is elevated during exercising, but by wearing a fitness band, we can also keep track of other, less-demanding activities that still contribute to overall well-being.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous exercising a week to stay healthy and Fitbits make tracking this easier, thanks to the 'Active Zone Minutes' feature (Garmin watches do the same but there it's called 'Intensity Minutes'). All you have to do to is wear the watch throughout the day and it will keep track of your heart rate, even if you don't log any activities specifically.

Fitbit Inspire 2

(Image credit: Fitbit)

That was all well up until very recently when the WHO updated its physical activity recommendation (opens in new tab). Since the end of November 2020, for adults aged 18–64 years, the WHO recommends "at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity" or "at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity." Before the update, 150 minutes of moderate activity a week was enough to stay healthy but now it's only the bare minimum you must do to preserve your health.

This doesn't mean you'll die early by not doing 300 minutes of moderate exercising a week but based on new research and scientific evidence, doing more than just 150 minutes a week will benefit your health on the long run. And better still, although Fitbits and Garmins are set to the ‘wrong‘ level by default, you can easily increase your daily and weekly goals using the Fitbit or Garmin Connect apps.

Lowest price

Fitbit Sense | Was $329.95 | Now $279.95 | Save $50 at Fitbit (opens in new tab)
It seems Fitbit is keen on shifting its Sense stock asap: why else would this capable fitness watch be discounted again, after Black Friday? Thanks to the new Fitbit OS 5.1, the Sense is now capable of even more precise SpO2 measurements and finally, Google Assistant is also available to use on the watch as well as Amazon Alexa. In case one voice assistant option is just not enough for you.

Fitbit Sense

(Image credit: Fitbit)

How to change the 'Active Zone Minutes' settings in the Fitbit App

After opening the Fitbit App, tap the Today tab then your profile picture in the upper corner. Here, tap your device image then Main Goal and choose the desired activity level.

Fitbit Versa 3 | Was $229.95 | Now $199.95 | Save $30 at Fitbit (opens in new tab)
Physically, the Versa 3 is almost identical to the Sense (apart from a couple of sensors) and provides almost the same user experience. What you miss out on by getting a Versa 3 is the stress tracking and the ECG but if you can live without these, you can save around $100. Even more now.

Garmin Forerunner 745

(Image credit: Garmin)

How to change the 'Intensity Minutes' settings in the Garmin Connect app

Open the Garmin Connect app on a paired smartphone and access the menu. From here, select 'Garmin Devices' then choose your device. From the list of options, choose 'Activity Tracking' then 'Weekly Intensity MInutes'. Click on the bar that says 'Intensity Minutes' and adjust the amount to the desired number of minutes.

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro | Was £599.99 | Now £449 | Save £150.99 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro is a beast of a multi-sport watch. It's extremely rugged, has a long battery life, offline maps, offline music storage, Garmin Pay and more. Basically, anything you can think of a fitness smartwatch should do, the Fenix 6 Pro can. Get this now while it's on offer!

Matt is T3's Fitness Editor and covers everything from smart fitness tech to running and workout shoes, home gym equipment, exercise how-tos, nutrition, cycling, and more. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and he collaborated with other fitness content creators such as Garage Gym reviews.