Does your Apple Watch workout app keep auto pausing? Here’s how you can fix it

The Workouts app on the Apple Watch is a convenient app with all the necessary bells and whistles. Since its inception, the app has been around on the Apple Watch and has gone through many changes as Apple added on new features.

Recently, many users have seen glitches in the software. One of the most annoying problems with the workout app is that it keeps auto pausing on its own from time to time.

Some users report that the workout app simply stops functioning on its own. You are running or working out on a cardio segment, and mid-way it stops monitoring.  For some, it just auto shuts and completely cancels the workout.

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If you are experiencing this issue on your Apple Watch, here are a few things you can check and see if it helps resolve this problem.

First and foremost, make sure that your Apple Watch is running the most recent watchOS software. Apple is constantly fixing bugs like this with watchOS upgrades.

If you are already on the latest applicable watchOS version on your watch and still having this issue, check out some of these tips:

Auto-Pause Functionality on Apple Watch

 Your Apple Watch software has a feature called auto-pause in the workout app. The watch can auto-pause certain workouts when it detects inactivity and resumes monitoring when it senses activity.

This feature is beneficial. For example, you are running on the street and need to wait at a pedestrian crossing before resuming your run.

The workout app automatically stops processing and waits until you start running again so that it can give you exact details of your running time, calories burnt, and more. 

    1. On your Apple Watch, open the Settings app.
    2. Next, head over to Settings > Workouts and tap on it.Apple Watch Workout not working
    3. Scroll down on this screen and look at the Auto-Pause section.
    4. Tap on Auto-Pause here.Apple Watch workouts pausing how to fix
    5. Toggle the auto-pause setting a few times on the next screen between on and off.
    6. Disable Auto-Pause and then restart your Apple Watch.Disable Auto-pause for workouts on Apple Watch
    7. Now you can check it out with a workout to see if your workout app works better.

You can also access this functionality from your iPhone.

    1. Open Watch app on your iPhone
    2. Tap on the ‘My Watch‘ tab at the bottom left corner of the screen.
    3. Scroll down and locate ‘Workout.’ Tap on it.workout settings on iPhone watch app
    4. Tap on Auto-pause.Auto pause feature on iPhone for apple watch
    5. Disable Auto-Pause feature for Workout app here.

Here’s how to access the Auto-pause feature of the Workout app on your iPhone.

This is usually the case with most indoor and outdoor running workouts. We tested it with the Hike activity and didn’t see this error.

Most of the outdoor runs and treadmill runs seem to have this problem where it automatically stops a few minutes into the activity.

Disabling the auto-pause functionality helped resolve this issue, but for many users, the simple disabling of the auto-pause feature didn’t entirely fix the problem.

Dismissing “Finished your Workout?” message on your Apple Watch

Users see the familiar prompt “Finished your workout?” following, which automatically shuts down the workout.

Please note that when you see the “Finished your workout message?” there are three different actions for you to choose from:Pause workout on Apple watch

  1. End Workout
  2. Pause
  3. Dismiss

The first two options are easily visible on the screen, but to access the third one, you need to scroll down on the screen and tap on ‘Dismiss” to keep the workout app continuing to monitor your activity.

If you accidentally tap on the Pause action, don’t worry, it pauses the workout calculations briefly, and you can resume the workout by tapping on the ‘Resume’ button.Resume workout on Apple Watch

As long as your Apple Watch can interpret your heart rate, it keeps track of your activity in the background even when you ‘Pause’ a workout.

Tapping resume modifies the calculations and makes your number kosher.

Wrist detection, Tattoos, and workout pausing action on Apple Watch Wrist detection for apple watch in iPhone Watch app

Word of caution for users who wear their Apple Watch loosely on their wrists.

You may also want to make sure that your Apple Watch is secured firmly to your wrist during your workout, as if you have wrist detection enabled and the Watch becomes loose, it can pause the workout until it is secure again. 

Find wrist detection in your watch’s Settings app > Passcode settings or your iPhone’s Watch app > My Watch tab > Passcode settings.

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

Many users instead turn off the wrist-detection process on their Apple Watch, but if you do that, it interferes with several functions on the Apple Watch, according to Apple. 

Here are some of the functions you may miss out on if you turn off Wrist Detection on your Apple Watch:

  • When you use Apple Pay on your Apple Watch, you’ll be prompted to enter your passcode when you double-click the side button to authorize the payment.
  • Some Activity measurements are unavailable.
  • Heart rate tracking and notifications are turned off.
  • Apple Watch no longer automatically locks and unlocks.
  • Apple Watch SE and Apple Watch Series 4 and later wonʼt automatically make an emergency call even after it has detected a hard impact fall.

Given this, you are better off keeping the wrist detection feature ON and making sure you are wearing your Apple Watch snuggly and not using it on a wrist with tattoos as it can interfere with the proper functioning of your Apple Watch.

If you have tattoos, try swapping your watch onto the opposite wrist (if that wrist doesn’t have tattoos), or wear your watch on the inside of your wrist, and you find that the workouts and associated metrics monitoring work better.

Avoid accidental taps during a workout

Workouts may auto-pause or shut down when you accidentally tap on your Apple Watch screen during your workout. Apple provides a neat feature that can help you prevent these accidental taps when you are working out.

While using the Workout app on your Apple Watch, swipe right and then tap Lock (it’s the water droplet icon.) Workout options to end or pause or water lock on Apple Watch Workout app

When you finish the workout, turn the digital crown in one continuous movement to turn the lock off, then slide right again and tap on end.

You can check out Apple’s guidance on this and more from Apple’s site.

This prevents any unwanted actions on your Apple Watch while working out, especially if you wear long sleeves or loose clothing that can tap the Apple Watch screen during your workout.

Turn on Location Services for Apple Watch Workout App for better tracking.

Tip for Outdoor users: If you are a runner or an outdoor activity performer and want better activity tracking on your Apple Watch, ensure that you have enabled ‘Location Services’ for the workout app.

You can check this setting directly on your Apple Watch. 

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Privacy.Privacy on Apple Watch
  3. Next, choose ‘Location Services’ from the options.Location Services on Apple Watch
  4. Make sure ‘Location Services’ is enabled on this screen.Track workouts better on apple watch using location services
  5. Scroll down, and you see a list of apps that have access to Location.
  6. Make sure that ‘Apple Watch Workout’ app is set to either ‘While Using’ or ‘Allow Location Access.Better workout tracking on Apple Watch
  7. You can enable ‘Precise Location’ on this screen for precise location during your runs. Apple Watch workout app location settings for Precise location

If you use additional third-party apps for your outdoor runs or hikes, such as ‘AllTrails” or WorkOutdoors, you can check the location services settings for those apps here as well and make sure that they have enough permission levels.

Summary

We hope that one or more of these tips help you resolve this annoying issue with the workouts app on your Apple Watch.

Sometimes a simple shutdown of the Apple Watch, unpairing it from your iPhone, and re-pairing it can be magical when solving common issues on the device.

Make sure to unpair and re-repair your Apple Watch with your iPhone and see if it helps resolve issues like this. If you are still having problems, you may need to reach out to Apple Support and see if they can help you with this issue.

Please let us know if you have any questions or would like to share a tip or two that helped you with the workout app on your Apple Watch.

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I walk on a treadmill holding on. I am older.

    Watch won’t count the steps. because my arm with watch is still.

    If I put the watch in my pocket it will count steps but not record a workout. VERY frustrating for an older lady wanting the glory of seeing workouts recorded.

    • Hi Irene,

      That is frustrating! Are you using the Apple Workout app and choosing Indoor Walk for your workout type? Also, try wearing it on your other arm, or even on your ankle. You can purchase ankle bands for less than $10 if your current band doesn’t fit.

      Wearing it on your ankle captures your heart rate data–a definite advantage over putting it in your pocket.

  2. I have done all these things to stop my Apple Watch pausing while I’m going workout but it’s still doing it

  3. I’ve done all of these things AND unpaired/repaired. The watch still constantly pause during workouts. It’s incredibly frustrating.

    I can’t make the band any tighter without also cutting off circulation. Why can’t Apple seem to get this fixed? It seems like a pretty common issue, given a simple google search.

    • Hi Christie,

      Sorry that your Apple Watch continues to auto-pause during workouts. A couple of questions that help us further dig into this:

      1) What Series Apple Watch do you use?

      2) Is it a cellular or GPS version?

      3) What watchOS version does the watch work on?

      4) Is the auto-pausing happening on all workouts or just certain ones?

      Amanda

  4. Can I switch to outdoor walking and have that auto pause instead of running. When I walk or hike I sometimes stop, have a brake, I pause manually but then I forget to resume and I don’t have the records. That is frustrating. The wach seams to recognize that I‘m hawing a brake but is still running. Can the wach monitor and pause automatically when I have a brake or when I walk in the city and take a bus and then continue to walk. I forget to pause and to resume. Can I switch the running to walk?

    • Hi Ruben,

      At this time, the auto-pause function only works for running and outdoor cycling workouts automatically. What we suggest you do is not pause during a walk and instead turn on End Workout Reminders, so you never forget to stop at workout at its completion.

      Find this option in Settings app > Workout or in the phone’s Watch app > Workout.

  5. Hi,
    Every time I go to kickboxing my watch pauses while I’m 12-15 min into the workout. I lock my watch but it still does it, and it’s on securely not loose. The auto pause button is turned off as well.

    What could be causing this to happen. When the watch is on lock mode does it still pause if it doesn’t detect heart rate? I have Apple Watch SE.

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