Apple Watch activity rings empty, blank, or not recording exercise minutes?

Activity rings on Apple Watch

Many Apple Watch users are frustrated that their Apple Watch activity rings are empty and not recording their exercise minutes. Countless amounts of activity streaks are gone and broken. 

Have no fear! We are here to help solidify the issue! But before we offer our troubleshooting tips, here are some things you need to consider. 

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About missing activity on Apple Watch missing activity and blank activity rings on apple watch

Apple considers “activity” to be anything that equals or exceeds the intensity of a brisk walk. Your Apple Watch even takes your personal information into account for this. 

So if you are not getting your heart rate high enough or not moving around fast enough (which has happened to me one too many times), Apple Watch will not move or count any of that as activity.

Check your watch’s fit 

The issue can also be because you are wearing your Apple Watch too loose. If you prefer your Apple Watch to have a snug fit, this could be why your activity rings are empty. 

If your watch is loose, Apple Watch will think that it is not on your wrist. Try wearing your Apple Watch a little tighter. 

But if you are working out or moving at a pace faster than a brisk walk and your Apple Watch fits perfectly, but somehow you are still not getting credit for your activity, try these tips to fix the issue.

Verify your Apple Watch’s software is up to date Download and install Apple Watch update on the watch itself

Before you do anything drastic to fix this issue, check to see if your Apple Watch is running on the latest software update.

If your watch needs an update, go ahead and do that first. We recommend using WiFi on your watch to update–it’s usually the fastest way to update watchOS!

But, if your activity rings are still not working after updating your devices, then try this.

Make sure Power Reserve Mode is off apple watch power reserve mode low power mode

When your Apple Watch is in Power Reserve Mode, your watch does not track any of your activity.

Additionally, power savings mode turns off all features except the current time.

When your watch’s battery is too low (below 10%), it automatically enters Power Reserve, and on your watch’s face, you see a red low battery icon next to the time. icon or Apple Watch low power mode, power reserve

If your watch is in power reserve mode, try charging your Apple Watch for at least 30 minutes and then restart it.

If your battery is dead, then fully charge your Apple Watch and try again later.

If this isn’t the case for you, then follow the next tip.

Check to see if Wrist Detection is turned on

wrist detection apple watch settings app
Wrist Detection automatically locks your Apple Watch when you’re not wearing it.

One reason why your activity rings are blank is that Wrist Detection may be off.

  1. To turn on Wrist Detection, go to the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Select Passcode and scroll down to Wrist Detection to make sure it is on.

You can also turn Wrist Detection on from your iPhone by going to the Apple Watch app and scroll down to Passcode

Check that your watch is unlocked apple watch passcode settings

Also, if you have Passcode enabled on your Apple Watch, make sure your Apple Watch is unlocked when you are doing your physical activity.

If your watch is locked, that can be the reason why your watch is not recording your exercise minutes. 

Unlock your Apple Watch by entering its passcode on the screen. Or set it to unlock automatically when you unlock your iPhone by going to your Apple Watch’s Settings app > Passcode and turn on Unlock with iPhone.

If unlocking your watch is a problem, try turning your passcode off and see if that improves the watch capturing activity data.

If that does not work, then let’s try something else. 

Calibrate your Apple Watch

If you have not already done so, make sure you calibrated your Apple Watch. 

Calibration is a crucial feature of the Apple Watch, especially for tracking your daily activity. The Calibration Data improves the accuracy of your distance, pace, and calorie measurements.

  1. To calibrate your Apple Watch, go to the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Then tap Privacy, select Location Services, and make sure that Calibration is on. 
  3. Then, you need to scroll down and tap System Services to make sure that Motion Calibration & Distance is on.
calibrate apple watch
When you calibrate your Apple Watch, it learns your fitness level and stride.

If you have already done that, try resetting your calibration data.

  • All you have to do is open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the My Watch tab, tap Privacy, then select Reset Fitness Calibration Data.
reseting calibration data on iPhone apple watch app
Resetting your calibration data permanently deletes your calibration data and history.

After doing that, try doing a workout on your Apple Watch and see if your activity rings update

If that didn’t work, try the next step.

Restart your iPhone and Apple Watch how to restart the apple watch (not forced restart)

Sometimes just simply restarting your devices can resolve the issue. When restarting your Apple Watch or iPhone, you should turn your device off for a minute or two and then turn it back on. 

After you turn your device on again, check your Activity app to see if it works. 

Unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch

unpair apple watch iPhone
Any time you experience an issue with your Apple Watch, unpairing and re-pairing your Apple Watch is always a quick fix for the issue.

When you unpair your watch, it automatically creates a backup, so you don’t lose any data.

Be warned that this process takes some time!

  1. To unpair your Apple Watch, go to the Watch app and select All Watches.
  2. Tap on the information icon next to your watch.
  3. Then you click on Unpair Apple Watch. 
  4. After that, you’re going to want to pair it with your iPhone again.

While this trick does work, it is also just a temporary fix. Sometimes the issue can reoccur.  

Still not working? If not, then try this as a last resort. 

Reset both your Apple Watch and iPhone.

If none of these steps work, reset both your iPhone and Apple Watch.

  1. Make sure you backup your data before you reset your device. You can backup your iPhone via iCloud or your Mac. 
  2. To back up your device, go to Settings and select iCloud. Turn Health on if it is not already. iCloud settings on iPhone toggle on Health app
  3. Then, tap Settings, select your account name, iCloud, iCloud Backup, and Back Up Now. iPhone iCloud Backup Now
  4. Once a backup is complete, unpair the watch to erase it.
    1. When you unpair, you automatically create a backup of your watch’s data.
  5. Then, erase and reset the paired iPhone by going to Settings, tap General, and select Reset.
  6. Tap Erase All Content and Settings and then restore it from your iCloud backup. restore iPhone from iCloud backup when setting up iPhone after erasing all content and settings
  7. Finally, pair your Apple Watch and set it up as new. Apple Watch set up as new or restore from backup

Once you complete this process, all of your data should be correct moving forward.

Your activity tracking should include accurate measurement of your steps and distance, pulse, resting and active energy, and more.

Summary

Not getting credit for your activity is super frustrating. It’s happened to me plenty of times too. But these tips have helped me, and I hope they have helped you too!

I'm a content writer with a passion for all things lifestyle having earned my Bachelor of Science in journalism from St. John's University. I was born and raised in Southern California. My Apple Watch never leaves my wrist, but I also adore Fitbit. I love all things health tech, including fitness and self-care apps. When I'm not writing, I enjoy traveling, reading, and drinking iced coffee!

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