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Why Are Apple Watch Activity Rings Not Working? Let’s Find Out


I’ve used the Apple Watch Series 6 to track workouts for nearly 8 months. And one of the most frustrating issues I’ve had to deal with is the activity rings not working.

But why does this happen, and, what can you do to fix it?

In my experience, exercise rings to move, show, or update because the Apple Watch has a glitch, the location service is off, the watchOS is not up to date, or the low power mode feature is active. Furthermore, you may have selected the wrong workout or the information in your health profile is wrong.

To be clear, the red, green, and blue rings may fail to move because of one or many of these issues.

So, it’s important to troubleshoot your Apple Watch extensively, fix each problem, and get the device activity rings working properly again.

This guide helps you do just that.

Why Are My Apple Watch Activity Rings Not Working?

The following table is a summary on why the exercise rings on your Apple Watch are not moving, as well as the fixes that I recommend:

 Probable CausePossible Solution
1.The watchOS is not up to date.Check if there is a current watchOS update and update your watch.
2.You have tattoo on your wrist.Adjust the watch so that it sits on your skin a little farther from the tattoos.
3.The Apple Watch has a system glitch.Restart the Apple Watch to free up memory and clear system glitches.
4.Wrist detection is not active.Ensure you enable wrist detection to enable the watch to listen to your movements.
5.The Apple Watch is in locked state.You should unlock your watch when tracking activities.
6.You haven’t worn the watch properly.Ensure the watch makes proper contact with your skin.

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How to Get Activity Rings to Work on Your Apple Watch

Whether one or all of your activity rings are not closing on your Apple Watch, here’s what you can do to get them to start moving again:

1. Update Your Apple Watch’s OS

The very first thing I want you to do if the fitness rings are not updating on your Apple Watch is to upgrade the watchOS to the latest version.

I can’t stress enough just how important this is.

Think about it:

Apple releases watchOS updates from time to time with the intention to fix bugs, close security loopholes, add new useful features, and enhance user experience.

And if you want your smartwatch to work optimally and the activity rings to update during light and intense workouts, you had better install these updates.

To update the watchOS to the latest version:

  • Launch the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Tap My Watch.
  • Go to General.
  • Tap Software Update.
  • Download and install the latest version of the watchOS. 

Depending on your privacy and security settings, Apple Watch may ask you to key in your passcode.

2. Adjust the Apple Watch Placement If You Have Tattoos

Here’s the deal:

For the activity rings to work, your Apple Watch must make direct contact with your skin.

If you have tattoo drawings on your skin, it becomes difficult for the green lights to penetrate the epidermis. This leads to the lack of heart rate data, as the watch assumes that you haven’t moved even if you have.

Now, the solution isn’t that you go for tattoo removal in favor of the Apple Watch.

Just adjust the watch so that it’s away from the tattoo to allow the optical heart rate sensor to do its job.

3. Unlock Your Apple Watch for Exercise Rings to Move

Activity rings will stop moving the very moment you lock your Apple Watch. In other words, you must ensure the watch is in the awake state if you want it to track your workouts.

You can also disable the passcode so that watch doesn’t lock. Or you can set it to unlock when you unlock your paired iPhone.  

To set your Apple Watch to unlock automatically: 

  • Launch apps on your Apple Watch.
  • Go to Settings.
  • Select the Passcode option.
  • Tap Unlock with iPhone.

And that’s it.

Your Apple Watch will now unlock whenever you unlock the paired iPhone, and the exercise rings will start to record your workout data.

4. Restart Your Apple Watch If The Rings Are Not Updating

One common issue I’ve seen with my Apple Watch Series 6 is the tendency to develop system errors after an extended period of use.

The screen might freeze, apps may start to conflict in the background, workout stats tend to go missing, and the activity rings may not show, let alone move.

Fortunately, restarting the watch can fix these glitches.

From what I understand, a restart clears cached memory, closes background apps, and clears some of the most common watchOS errors.

And it’s important to restart the watch from time to time, so you can have it functioning optimally.

So, to restart the Apple Watch:

  • Press and hold down the power button until three sliders appear on the screen.
  • Toggle the power off slider to the right to turn off the watch.
  • Wait at least 10 seconds.
  • Press and hold down the power button again until Apple’s logo appear on the screen.

And that’s it.

5. Enable Wrist Detection on Your Apple Watch

If your Apple Watch is not showing the activity rings or if the rings have disappeared all of a sudden, it’s likely that the wrist detection is off on the device.

You need to enable this feature for the activity rings to show on your Apple Watch. To do this:

  • Press Digital Crown to wake the screen.
  • Open the app menu.
  • Tap the Settings app.
  • Under Settings, tap Passcode.
  • Scroll down, look for Wrist Detection feature, and tap it.
  • Turn Wrist Detection on.

Your Apple Watch activity rings should show immediately thereafter.

6. Reset Your Apple Watch

I’ve mentioned repeatedly that resetting isn’t the best fix for common Apple Watch problems.

And let me explain why:

When you reset your Apple Watch, you lose all your workout stats, installed apps, and personal information.

So, you should consider this fix as a last resort if all the other solutions that I’ve recommended in this guide fail. But first, ensure you back up your Apple Watch to your iPhone.

To reset the Apple Watch:

  • Go to Settings
  • Select General
  • Tap Reset
  • Select Erase All Content and Settings.
  • Enter your passcode (if prompted).
  • Allow your Apple Watch to reset.

The final step is to setup the watch as if it were new. After this, your Apple Watch activity rings should work as expected.

Final Thoughts

Apple Watch activity rings are some of the best features the brand has ever integrated into its wearable devices. For what it’s worth, the rings motivate you to develop and lead an active lifestyle without the need for a personal trainer.

There are three activity rings, each denoted with a unique color:

  • Red: This is for the outer ring, and it represents the number of calories your body burns throughout the day.
  • Green: This is the middle ring, and it shows how many minutes of brisk activity you’ve completed.
  • Blue: This is the inner ring, which represents how frequently you’ve move for at least a minute per hour.

It’s important to ensure these rings are moving whenever you’re active. Otherwise, it will be hard to quantify your active minutes.

And given that I’ve explained exactly how to fix activity rings not working on Apple Watch, it should take you a short time to get the watch back on track.

I hope this guide has been helpful.

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Michael Jonathan

Michael Jonathan is the brainchild of Apelo Studio. He loves talking about wearable devices, and he is passionate about helping you push your wearable device to its limits. His creativity and ability to tear electric components apart and put them back together makes him an incredible troubleshooter and blogger.

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