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Are Fitbit Steps Accurate? What You Need to Know

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I use Fitbit Versa 2 to track steps every day. And I particularly love the reminder to move feature that cues me to get up and walk at least 250 steps an hour. But are Fitbit steps accurate?

Fitbit steps tend to be accurate for normal-paced walking. However, you won’t get credit for the steps you take when pushing a shopping cart or a stroller, unless your non-dominant hand moves freely. Also, Fitbit tends to overestimate steps when jogging on bumpy roads.

I should state clearly that your Fitbit is by no means a perfect device, not even when it comes to counting steps. However, if setup and worn correctly, the device can help you optimize and take full control over your health and fitness over time.

How Does Fitbit Know How Many Steps You Take?

Fitbit uses a 3-axis accelerometer to keep track of the steps you take throughout the day. The sensor also calculates your movement’s patterns, frequency, duration, and intensity.

If the 3-axis accelerometer sensor doesn’t work properly, your Fitbit won’t count steps, or you may get inaccurate data synced from the wearable to the companion app.

Does Fitbit Lie About Steps?

Let me make one thing very clear at this point:

Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers are great inventions in the wearable space. Put them to actual testing, not theoretical evaluation, and you’ll realize just how incredibly useful they can be.

However, they are by no means perfect.

Fitbit step-tracking algorithm has gone through fine-tuning over the years, making models such as Versa 2 and 3 relatively reliable for counting steps – even at slow walking speeds.

Sadly, there are times when steps just go off the chart, which means that Fitbit can indeed lie about the steps you take.

5 Reasons Why Fitbit Lies About Steps – And How to Fix It

In my research and testing, I found the following to be the possible reasons why Fitbit fitness trackers and smartwatches tend to lie about yours and my steps:

 Possible CauseProbable Solution
1.The Fitbit placement is wrong.Wear your Fitbit properly.
2.GPS mode is active.Turn off the on-board or connected GPS.
3.The Fitbit OS is outdated.Update the software version.
4.Fitbit might be jammed or froze.Restart the smartwatch or fitness tracker.

Following is a detailed explanation on how to fix the 5 problems above:

1. Deactivate the GPS Mode 

Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers such as Sense 2 and Charge 5 have built-in GPS that you can use to map your routes and calculate total distance covered.

Yet as significant as the GPS is, it can cause the Fitbit device to lie about step count. And even if the difference is insignificant, a missed step is a missing count anyways.

Think of it like this:

If you have GPS activated, your Fitbit will use the 3-axis accelerometer to count steps until the device gets GPS signals. Then, it switches to tracking distance rather than the steps you take.

Why you can know the total distance covered and the period walked, it isn’t as easy to determine how many steps you took. You’d probably and add steps to Fitbit depending on how long you walked. 

So if you’re more concerned about the number of steps you took rather than the distance you covered, you should turn off the GPS.

For activity trackers:

  • Launch the Fitbit app.
  • Select your tracker.
  • Check the GPS connection status.
  • Turn off GPS if it’s active. 

For smartwatches:

  • Swipe the screen from the left to the right.
  • Check an exercise.
  • Swipe the screen down.
  • Turn the GPS mode off.

2. Update the Fitbit OS

Your Fitbit can suddenly start giving you incorrect step count data because its firmware is outdated.

But this should be easy to fix. You should check if there are new firmware updates and install them right away.

Note that you can update the Fitbit OS in the companion app.

  • Launch the app on your iOS or Android phone.
  • Choose Account.
  • Select your Fitbit.
  • Tap the Update button to download and install the latest firmware updates.

3. Restart the Device

Sometimes Fitbit lie about steps because the device just jammed. And the best way to fix this issue is to do a basic, soft restart.

To restart your Fitbit, just press and hold down the power button for 5 seconds – or until you see the Fitbit logo on the screen.

Your Fitbit Watch should start collecting accurate step count data immediately after the restart is complete.

4. Get the Fitbit Placement Right

The third step to keep Fitbit from lying about your steps is to get the placement right.

Keep in mind that the 3-axis accelerometer sensor must be in constant contact with your wrist for the device to track your movements and report accurate steps.

There are two placement rules that I want you to get right moving forward:

  • Wear the watch or tracker on your non-dominant wrist, not anywhere else.
  • Tighten the straps to a snug. They should not be too loose or too tight.

If you’ve decided to clip your Fitbit, you should change the settings from on-wrist to on-clip before you start counting your steps. 

In the end, even if the step count results are not 100% accurate at times, you can still use the data to give you an idea of the total number of steps you’ve taken throughout the day.

How Do I Make My Fitbit Steps Accurate?

I know you want nothing more than to get your Fitbit device to count your steps and do so with accuracy. 

So, here’s what you should do:

1. Wear Your Fitbit Properly

I know I’ve mentioned this before already. 

But I can’t stress enough just how important it is to wear your Fitbit properly. Get this part wrong, and the wearable won’t be a helpful timepiece.

Here’s the thing:

Every fitness tracker or smartwatch in the Fitbit’s collection has sensors at the back. These sensors must make contact with your skin for tracking to happen.

So the first thing you must do to make your steps more accurate is to wear the device securely on your wrist.

Remember, if your Fitbit is too loose on your wrist, the sensors won’t be in constant contact with your skin, which often leads to inaccurate results.

2. Wear the Fitbit on Your Non-dominant Wrist

If you keep wearing your Fitbit on your dominant wrist every morning after shower, you’re doing it wrong.

Think about it:

Your dominant hand moves too many times a day than your body even does. And a Fitbit always interprets these as steps even when you’re stead still in a couch.

If you really want to see reasonably accurate step count on the watch’s screen and in the companion app, I strongly suggest that you have it wrapped around your non-dominant wrist all the time.

3. Recalibrate the Stride Length on Your Fitbit

Recalibrating the length of your strides also helps to increase the accuracy of your Fitbit steps. To do this:

  • Find a suitable track, path, or space.
  • Find the exact distance of the path.
  • Start walking or running on that very track distance and count your steps while you’re at it. C
  • Take the total number of steps you’ve taken and divide it by the total distance traveled.

The result you get is your stride length.

You need to do one more thing to complete the recalibration process. And that is to update your stride length manually in the companion app.

To do this:

  • Launch the Fitbit app on your Android or iOS smartphone. 
  • Select Activity & Wellness.
  • Choose Exercise. 
  • Scroll down and select Stride Length.
  • Enter the new stride length form your recalibration.

Now you should get accurate step count every day.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Fitbit Accurately Count Steps?

You can get your Fitbit to count steps and give you accurate results by getting the set up right.

Wear the device properly on the wrist, turn off the GPS, and make sure your phone and smartwatch are “in sync”. 

It’s that simple.

2. Does Moving Your Arms Act as Steps on Fitbit?

Moving your non-dominant arm will count as steps on your Fitbit smartwatch or fitness tracker.

Based on my findings, arm movement is one of the techniques to cheat Fitbit to believe that you’re active while you’ve barely moved an inch.

There’s a possible explanation for this.

You see, while the 3-axis accelerometer can detect movement, it doesn’t have the intelligence to know whether you’ve actually moved and fed Fitbit with steps. So arm movements will count as steps and you’ll end up getting inaccurate results.

But here’s the thing:

You didn’t buy your Fitbit for a purpose this baseless. You bought it because you want it to work for you and give you the results that you need. So, I strongly recommend that you use it more appropriately. 

3. Does Fitbit Count Steps If Not On the Wrist?

Whether or not a Fitbit can count steps if not on the wrist is subject to debate.

First, understand that Fitbit is a product designed for the wrist, which means it should be on your non-dominant hand to get you reliable step count. 

However, it can still count steps if you carry it in your pocket or strap it around your ankle. But I doubt the results will be as accurate.

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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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