Weight Watchers FitPoints (Activity Points): Exactly How Do They Work?
This article will explain:
1. What are Fitpoints?
2. Should I trade my FitPoints for extra SmartPoints, or will that slow my weight loss?
3. If I want to swap points, how exactly do I do this in my Weight Watchers account?
4. How many FitPoints do different activities earn?
FitPoints is Weight Watchers' rating system for physical activity. The more you move, the more FitPoints you earn, which allows you to eat a little more. Think of FitPoints as activity points, which is what WW used to call them. You earn FitPoints with exercise.
You can trade your FitPoints for SmartPoints, which in Weight Watchers jargon is called "eating your FitPoints."
It's called "eating your FitPoints" because swapping your FitPoints for SmartPoints increases the amount of food you can eat each day on Weight Watchers.
Should I eat my FitPoints or not?
The choice comes down to this: If you swap your FitPoints for extra SmartPoints, you'll make the WW program easier to live with, as your increased SmartPoints allotment will allow you to eat more. BUT...if you don't eat your fitpoints, you'll lose weight faster, providing you don't start cheating, or drop off the program entirely because the exercise made you too hungry! You will have to decide which tactic feels right for you.
How do I actually go about swapping my FitPoints for SmartPoints?
You'll have to adjust your Weight Watchers account default settings in order to make this happen. Don't worry -- we'll show you exactly how to do this in a moment. Read on!
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You can exchange your daily FitPoints for SmartPoints on a one-for-one basis, which means you can eat a bit more each day if you're active.
NOTE: To swap your FitPoints for increased SmartPoints, you must change the default settings in your Weight Watchers account. See image below for details.
What is the purpose of the weekly FitPoints "Goal" that each member is given?
Each member is assigned a numerical FitPoints Goal for the week. Since you earn FitPoints with physical activity of any kind, the concept is that Weight Watchers is trying to encourage you to be more active. Weight Watchers hopes that you will strive to meet this goal. After you meet it consistently, they will raise the goal, a little at a time.
How does Weight Watchers decide my initial weekly FitPoints Goal?
When you first sign up, you'll be asked a number of questions. The good folks at Weight Watchers decide your initial weekly FitPoints Goal number, based on your age, gender, weight, and activity level.
Exactly what kind of activity counts towards FitPoints
Just about anything! You could be doing aerobics, or you could just be walking to work, waging war against bathroom soap scum, or dancing your heart out at a party. Every move counts. You just have to keep track of the amount of time you engaged in the activity, and the intensity level (low, moderate, or high) of the activity.
How do I decide if the activity is low, moderate, or high intensity?
Low intensity: You're not sweating from the activity, or breathing more rapidly than normal.
Moderate intensity: You're breathing more rapidly than normal, but not out of breath (not winded). You are able to converse but not able to sing while performing the activity.
High intensity: You're breathing hard! You can't converse normally while performing this activity, but can only utter short phrases.
source: Weight Watchers Research Dept. "Exercise Intensity Levels"
How do I record my activity in my Weight Watchers account?
You can either enter it manually in the activity section of your account, or you can use a tracking device or app, such as Fitbit, which connects directly to your Weight Watchers account.
How are FitPoints different from Activity Points?
If you’re returning to WW after using them in the past, you may notice that the FitPoints system is pretty similar to the previous Weight Watchers exercise-reward system called Activity Points. That’s because these two are essentially the same thing – FitPoints is the new version of Activity Points.
The revamp took effect in December 2015, when Weight Watchers introduced their holistic Beyond the Scale approach (sounds like a sci-fi sequel: Star Wars Episode 14, Beyond the Scale). Anyway, the WW PointsPlus system (which was the food point system) became SmartPoints, and Activity Points became FitPoints.
Aside from having a sleeker, more 2017-ish name, FitPoints is different in a few ways.
For one, Weight Watchers says that your weekly FitPoints goal is fully personalized for you by WW, taking into account your age, gender, height, weight, and current activity level. Previously, with Activity Points, you would just calculate the points to earn using a more generalized, clumsier online tool.
The actual FitPoints you earn that are exchangeable for SmartPoints doesn't really vary much based on your weight and gender. The number of points you earn is overwhelmingly based on the time and intensity of the activity.
FitPoints are easier to earn as well. Plain and simple, you get points as soon as you start moving.
With the old Activity Points, you had to reach a baseline before you could score – for example, you might have had to walk 3,500 steps to get points. Now, you could walk just a third of that and already earn as many as 2 FitPoints.
FitBreak is an app that shows you very brief videos (a few seconds long), and encourages you to then mimic that activity for exactly one minute. If you do this 20 times over the course of the day (a total of 20 minutes), you will receive 2 FitPoints. You must be logged into your regular Weight Watchers mobile app while using FitBreak, in order to automatically receive the points.
How exactly do I get started with FitPoints?
Let’s take it (ahem) step by step.
1. Starting with a goal
When you start on Weight Watchers, you take an assessment where WW looks at your lifestyle and determines your first FitPoints goal.
As mentioned, this goal is based on your personal factors. For instance, if you currently spend a lot of time sitting at your desk, WW will start you off with a fairly low points goal.
Once you know your goal, you can begin tracking your activities.
2. Tracking and gaining points
There are two ways to track how much you’re moving. One is by wearing an activity tracker, such as the highly popular Fitbit, which integrates with your Weight Watchers account. To integrate your FitBit, go to "Settings" in your WW account, then select "Activity," and click "Connect to a Device or App."
The advantage of wearing an activity tracker is that you'll earn the most FitPoints this way. That’s because these nifty little tracking apps count virtually all your activities, even ones that aren't usually considered exercise, like walking to the bathroom.
Just make sure that your tracking app is synced to your Weight Watchers account so that your tracked activities are automatically converted and credited as FitPoints.
If using a tracking app isn’t an option for you, you can still input your activities manually into your account. Just log in to your My Day online dashboard, go to "Activity," and there you'll see where to input your activity.
For manual inputting, you’ll have to note the duration of your exercise, as well as it's "intensity." If you know the calories burned, you can enter that instead. Even if you don't want to shell out for an expensive tracker, you can download a free pedometer app on your phone to count your steps for you.
3. Updating your Activity goals
Once you get the hang of reaching your weekly FitPoints goals (and for some people, WW is right in saying that this can be addictive), your goal will likely be changed to match your new lifestyle.
If you reach your goal for two weeks straight, Weight Watchers will automatically recommend a higher goal for you.
And if you keep racking up those points, you get more bragging rights – and other perks, like say, a leaner, healthier body. Plus, you can exchange those FitPoints for more SmartPoints, which means that you can eat a little more if you want to.
Can I Eat My FitPoints?
In Weight Watchers community parlance, ‘eating’ your FitPoints means swapping them for an increased food allowance in SmartPoints. And yes, you’re allowed to do this.
Let’s first clarify the basics. FitPoints is a goal system, so you want to earn more points here to achieve your target. SmartPoints, on the other hand, is a point allotment system, which means you’re given a certain point allowance that you’ll have to ‘spend’ wisely on your food choices.
So, the lower your SmartPoints are, the more you’ll have to skimp on desserts. But if you have higher SmartPoints, you’ll have some spare allowance to get an extra blueberry cupcake.
Now, if you’ve been a good kid and you did your exercises, you probably have a lot of FitPoints that you don’t know what to do with. So now you’re wondering if you can convert these FitPoints to SmartPoints so you can reward yourself with yummy food.
You can. In fact, 1 FitPoint is equal to 1 SmartPoint. The question now is, should you eat your FitPoints?
Weight Watchers says, “Do what works for you.” If eating your FitPoints helps you in your diet, then by all means, keep swapping points!
The company also says that SmartPoints and FitPoints are designed to work together for your weight-loss goals, so point-swapping shouldn’t be a problem.
In a way, this makes sense. If you’ve earned enough FitPoints to swap, that should mean you’re getting enough exercise to deserve an extra treat. And, as we all know, getting a treat every now and then makes dieting a little more enjoyable.
Still, watch out for certain traps.
For one, if you’re inputting your activities manually (without tracking tools), you’ll want to be completely honest about it. Some dieters tend to overestimate the intensity of their exercise, and this gives them more FitPoints than it’s really worth.
A similar thing may happen with tracking apps, especially if more than one app is synced to your WW account. Make sure each activity isn’t double-counted, because if it is, your FitPoints could inflate even though you didn’t burn enough calories.
Overestimated FitPoints means that you could then be swapping for more food than you worked for, and that completely throws the diet.
But if you’re confident that you’re ready to eat your FitPoints, log in to your WW account online and change your Swap settings. You’ll have the option to either eat your weekly SmartPoints allowance if you exceed your daily, or supplement your SmartPoints with swapped FitPoints.
How many FitPoints does an activity earn?
The equivalent FitPoints for each activity depends a lot on its intensity and duration, and your weight also factors into it. A basic "average" approximation would be 1,000 walking steps equals 1 FitPoint, but this could increase or decrease for you, depending on your weight, etc.
It does take a bit of meticulous fine-tuning to figure out FitPoints for your particular weight. The Weight Watchers Pocket Guide provides a comparison:
A 160-pound person earns 1 FitPoint after 10 minutes of low- to moderate intensity movements. Meanwhile, a 220-pound person earns 1 FitPoint after 10 minutes of low-intensity, but 2 FitPoints after 10 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
So let’s say both persons went on an hour-long moderate-intensity jog. The 160-pound person would get 6 FitPoints while her 220-pound friend would get 12. Similarly, the “less weighty” of these two friends would be credited with 3 FitPoints for 20 minutes on the elliptical, while her bigger buddy would receive 6.
Before you lighter-weight dieters scream “unfair,” note that a heavier person burns more calories for the same activity, just as a heavier car burns more gas than a light one for the same trip. And since FitPoints are meant to encourage us to move, maybe Weight Watchers wants to give more encouraging pats on the back (i.e. points) to those of us who have a longer way to go on the weight-loss journey.
It’s great that Weight Watchers is motivating us to get active while we’re dieting. That’s really healthier, and being able to get more food points for it is a big plus.
But will the FitPoints system really help you on your weight loss? We think it can, as long as you track diligently, swap wisely, and eat accordingly. Oh, and don’t forget to celebrate those achieved goals! You deserve it.