Is your Apple watch counting way too many steps or flight climbed? If so, you are not alone. Several of our readers tell us that their Apple Watches report inaccurate data, especially on the number of flights and stairs climbed–sometimes reporting 10 times what a person actually did!
The good news is that we have some tips that stop this problem for most people.
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Turn on Motion Calibration & Distance for your Apple Watch
- On your paired iPhone, go to Settings
- Choose Privacy > Location Services
- Scroll down to System Services
- Toggle on Motion Calibration & Distance
- If it’s already on, toggle it off, wait 20 seconds, and toggle it back on
Charge your Apple Watch’s battery
If your battery is low on charge, getting accurate fitness metrics is often impacted. So, before you start your day, make sure your watch battery is at 100%.
Alternatively, try discharging your Apple Watch and then charge it overnight (or for 12+ hours continuously)
Some readers discovered that if they let their Apple watch battery completely discharge and only then charged it fully (usually overnight,) the next day their Apple Watch recorded steps and flights of stairs accurately.
Clean your Apple Watch
Most Apple Watches (Series 3 and above) include a barometric sensor that helps calculate elevation and determine approximate altitude.
That barometric sensor records any change in your elevation.
Sometimes, it counts things as stairs and flights climbed, even if you actually did not climb any but changed your elevation while you move during activity.
For example, it won’t count elevation changes when you are in an elevator (because you aren’t engaged in active motion.) But it will count elevation changes when going up and down a hill. And if a weather event like a hurricane passes through your town, you’ll likely see some interesting results in your flights of stairs climbed due to the sudden atmospheric and barometric pressure changes!
What’s important here is that your Apple Watch’s barometric sensor uses the watch’s air and speaker vents as a barometric vent to equalize the watch’s internal pressure.
Sometimes, lint, dirt, and other debris get trapped in these vents and prevents the barometric sensor from operating correctly.
So a good, old-fashioned cleaning often saves the day!
How to clean your Apple Watch so it counts stairs and steps accurately
- Remove any bands that could be damaged by water (like fabric and leather bands)
- Swipe up Control Center and tap the Water Lock button
- You want the water lock active for the entire cleaning process
- Use a dry microfiber or lint-free cloth and wipe your Apple Watch–make sure you cover all sides, the buttons, digital crown, and focus on those vents to ensure nothing is trapped in there
- Lightly dampen the cloth with fresh water, use a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, an electronics wipe, or Clorox disinfecting wipe and clean your watch again
- Alternatively, hold your Apple Watch under lightly running, warm, fresh water for 10 to 15 seconds
- Never use bleach, soaps, detergents, or other cleaning products to clean your watch
- After cleaning, take another dry cloth and wipe the watch to pick up any remaining moisture
- Turn off Water Lock and eject water by turning the Digital Crown on the side of your Apple Watch until the display says Unlocked
- You hear a set of tones as your watch expels any remaining water
- Let your watch air dry in a shaded location or near a fan. Make sure the watch (and band, if applicable) is 100% dry before placing it back on
If your Apple watch counts too many steps or flight climbed, we hope one of these tips worked for you. And if not, let us know. Got a better tip for this problem? Let us know that too and pay it forward.
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