Fitbit measures your step count and tracks distance using three methods: a 3-axis accelerometer, a formula, and an algorithm.
This means several factors can affect your device’s step count accuracy.
- 1 In a hurry? Follow these quick tips
- 2 Fix your Fitbit placement
- 3 Your personal data on Fitbit
- 4 How to measure your stride length
- 5 Firmware Update
- 6 Turn off Fitbit GPS
- 7 Restart your Fitbit
- 8 Remove your Fitbit and then add your Fitbit again as a new device
- 9 Factory reset your Fitbit
- 10 Test your Fitbit the old-fashioned way!
- 11 Summary
In a hurry? Follow these quick tips
Here are 10 easy fixes when your Fitbit isn’t counting steps accurately
- Ensure you are wearing the Fitbit correctly.
- Ensure that you have the correct Fitbit placement settings entered into the Fitbit app.
- Check your personal data is correct within the Fitbit app.
- Measure your stride length and put it into the Fitbit app.
- Check For a Firmware Update.
- Turn off GPS.
- Add as a new device.
- Factory reset.
- Log your non-active times.
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Fix your Fitbit placement
An accelerometer is an electromechanical device that measures acceleration forces. The forces may be static or dynamic.
Where you wear your device can affect your step count. Every brand of smartwatch or wrist tracker counts hand ‘steps’ to some extent if the device is worn on the wrist.
How to get the right Fitbit placement
- Ensure the Fitbit band fits securely around the wrist, as a loose fit can cause extra movement & register extra steps.
- Don’t wear your device on or next to loose accessories, such as loose bangles or a pendant.
- When wearing a Fitbit device in a clip, make sure that you change your Fitbit setting from ‘on wrist’ to ‘on clip.’
- Not all models offer an ‘on clip’ setting (for example, the Fitbit Inspire 2 and HR do not offer this setting)
- For the Fitbit Inspire, access your Quick Settings options by pressing and holding the side button for 2 seconds, then scroll to the second setting option between Screen Wake and Notifications. This should read On Clip. If not, tap it to update it.
- Check wrist settings in the Fitbit app; the non-dominant wrist setting increases the sensitivity of step counting. Go to Today tab > tap account icon > choose your device > tap Wrist > select Non-Dominant.
Your personal data on Fitbit
You must enter your personal data correctly during setup because the formula used to calculate the distance traveled is determined by your stride length, your height, and your gender.
Steps x Stride Length = Distance Travelled.
Your personal data and your personal stride length improve the overall accuracy of your Fitbit.
Update your Fitbit’s personal info
- Ensure that your height and gender are entered correctly in the Fitbit app.
- Go to Today tab > tap your profile icon or picture > choose your username to view your profile > tap personal and update your information
- Measure your stride length and add it manually in the Fitbit app.
How to measure your stride length
Go to a place where you’re sure of the distance, perhaps a track or sports pitch.
Record the distance that you travel in at least 20 steps.
Divide the distance traveled by the number of steps you took to determine your stride length.
How to add your stride length to your Fitbit account
- Tap the Today tab, and tap your profile picture.
- Go to the Settings category and tap Activity & Wellness > Excercise > Stride Length.
- For older FitbitOS versions, tap Advanced Settings > Stride Length.
- Toggle on Set Automatically or enter in your information manually to adjust your stride length.
You can also adjust these settings on your online account dashboard at Fitbit’s website.
- From your Fitbit account dashboard, click the Gear icon > Settings.
- Choose Personal Info.
- Under Advanced Settings, tap the Edit button next to Stride Length.
- Tap Set Automatically or choose to Set Your Own and adjust your stride length.
- Choose Submit to save and then immediately sync your device.
If your Fitbit is not accurately tracking steps, then it may need an update.
You can find the option to update the firmware in the Fitbit App.
- Open the Fitbit app.
- Tap on the Account icon, then tap on your tracker.
- Tap the pink Update button.
Turn off Fitbit GPS
This option may work for you if you don’t use the GPS function and are only interested in the step count.
How to turn off GPS on your Fitbit
- Go to your device’s home screen.
- Swipe left.
- Select exercise.
- Swipe down.
- Turn GPS off.
- Open your Fitbit device’s Settings app.
- Look for the option Connected GPS or GPS Settings.
- Tap it to turn it off.
You can also turn GPS off in your online Fitbit account dashboard.
- From your Fitbit account dashboard, click the Gear icon > Choose your device.
- In the device settings menu, please scroll down to GPS and tap it open.
- Turn GPS off and sync your device immediately.
Restart your Fitbit
A restart usually solves many Fitbit problems, including not tracking your steps correctly.
To restart your model check out our page: Need to restart or reset your Fitbit device? Learn the steps
For Fitbit smartwatches
- Press and hold the button (or the back and bottom buttons) for 10 seconds until you see the Fitbit logo on the screen, and then release the button.
- Your Fitbit restarts and shows your home screen once complete.
You can also turn off and shut down your Fitbit and then power it back up!
These steps can achieve a restart of the older Fitbit wearables:
- Connect your Fitbit to its charging cable and make sure it’s plugged in and placed properly.
- Hold down the button for between five & ten seconds. You will usually see the Fitbit logo appear, a smiley face icon, or the screen flashes. Release the button or buttons when this happens.
- Disconnect the tracker from its charger and turn it back on if necessary.
Remove your Fitbit and then add your Fitbit again as a new device
First, sync your Fitbit with the app to save your device’s data.
Since Fitbit stores your data on its servers, you won’t lose any information provided you sync your device with the app before removing it.
Then, remove your Fitbit device from the app
- Choose the Today tab and tap your profile picture.
- Tap your device’s name.
- To remove it, tap the trashcan or scroll down and tap Remove This (Device Name.)
- Follow the on-screen instructions to remove the device from your account.
Add your Fitbit again to the app–as a new device
- Chose the Today tab and tap your profile icon.
- Tap the option that says, “Set up a new device.”
- Follow the on-screen instructions to add your Fitbit as a new device.
Factory reset your Fitbit
If the other options don’t fix your Fitbit step accuracy problem, you can try a factory reset.
This wipes all of your stored data and returns your Fitbit to its factory settings.
Before you reset your Fitbit, be sure to sync first and then reset.
Most models have different factory reset methods, and most older Fitbits that came out before 2016, like the Fitbit Flex, Surge, and Blaze, cannot be factory reset.
For most newer model smartwatches and trackers, open the Settings app on your Fitbit > choose About > and select Factory Reset or Clear User Data.
For the Inspire series, go to Settings > Clear User Data.
Log your non-active times
If you want a perfect step count, you can log your ‘before & after’ step counts when you spend a long period of time sitting or doing some other activity that does not involve walking.
You can then deduct these false steps from your day’s total score.
You can also take the tracker off before starting activities that you know will generate false results, such as using a sander or playing a musical instrument.
Test your Fitbit the old-fashioned way!
If you have tried all of the options suggested and you still think your Fitbit is not accurately counting steps, try a step test:
- Restart your tracker.
- Put your wrist-based tracker on your wrist.
- Walk 100 steps, making sure to count a step each time one of your feet hits the ground.
- Stop and check your tracker to see your step count.
The Fitbit algorithm is designed to look for intensity and motion patterns that indicate people walking and running.
The algorithm will give you credit for steps when doing stationary activities, such as cooking, as you often walk a few steps in-between stationary periods.
Over time, the step count should even out, so the error percentage is actually quite small.
For most people, the number of extra steps added by arm-based movement isn’t significant when calculating their overall stats.
If you walk 10,000 steps, 500 extra steps are only 5% making Fitbit 95% accurate (as stated by Fitbit).
I hope that this article has helped you understand how your Fitbit calculates your steps and how to improve your Fitbit’s step count accuracy.
The Fitbit step counter provides acceptable reliability for most people. More importantly, Fitbits give you lots of health data and activity trends over time.
If you have any more questions or anything to add, please feel free to let us and everyone else know about it in the comments section below!
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