How to calibrate your Fitbit: Improve the accuracy of step tracking

Don’t cheat yourself

No-one likes getting short changed, so if you think your Fitbit is logging too many steps – or worse, not enough – then calibrating your fitness tracker could be the answer.

Fitbit offers a few ways to tweak the algorithm to ensure better accuracy, and we've laid out a few tips below to make sure you've calibrated your new device as best you can.

Fitbit accuracy: Set your stride length

If you're finding your Fitbit is way off mark with tracking distance or steps, adjusting your stride length will help. Even if it's generally accurate, setting a manual stride length will ensure you're not overestimating or underestimating your daily activity and workouts.

From the Dashboard, tap on the Account icon at the top right, then scroll down to Advanced Settings and you'll see the option for Stride Length. If you haven't changed this before then you'll most likely find it's toggled to be set automatically, which adjusts when you go running with GPS enabled. But if you're finding that the results are wildly off the mark, this is probably why.

Toggle it off and you'll be able to set these distances manually. If you already know your stride length, great! If not, you can work it out by walking (or running) over a short distance and then dividing that total distance by the number of steps taken. You can enter different stride lengths for running and walking, so make sure you do.

Calibrate exercise detection

fitbit logging too many steps

Fitbit uses a feature called SmartTrack on all devices other than the Charge, Flex, One and Zip. This automatically detects workouts, including walking, running, cycling and even swimming. By going into your Account and then into Exercise, you can tweak how long Fitbit will wait to kick in tracking when it automatically detects an exercise is happening.

The shortest amount of time you can set this for is 10 minutes, but don't worry, any exercise you do in those first few minutes will still be accounted for. However if you find auto-tracking isn't working quite right, even once you've adjusted the time, you can turn it off for each exercise individually.

Improve sleep accuracy

Did you know you can calibrate your Fitbit for sleep too, even if you don't have the advanced Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights features? Again, head into the Advanced Settings and you'll find an option for Sleep Sensitivity, which will be set to 'Normal' by default.

If you're finding that sleep tracking is producing some odd results, you can change this to 'Sensitive'. See if that makes for more accurate tracking.

Set pool lengths

pool length swimming accuracy fitbit

If you want to track a swim, make sure you've calibrated your tracker to the length of the pool. If you're using the Fitbit Flex 2, you can do this by going into your Account and then into Advanced Settings where you'll see an option to adjust the pool length.

On the Ionic, you can do this before each swim on the watch itself by tapping the cog icon at the top left of the screen (as shown above) and adjusting the distance. Make sure you do to ensure the best accuracy.

One last thing…

A small one, but still important: make sure you tell the app which wrist you're wearing your Fitbit on. You can do this by going into the device settings – you should see an option for Wrist at the top. Tap on that and tell it whether you're wearing your tracker on your dominant or non-dominant hand. It's a little thing, but it could make a marked difference in accuracy.

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  • Loffredo·

    I bought a fitbit surge 15 months ago.

    The touch screen is not working so I can´t change the programs, etc.

    Beside, not always it is possible to sync with my iphone 7.

    There is not warranty nor a place were I can bring it to repare.

    Fitbit no offer any solution, so I´m considering to swift toward iwach.

    Of course never more fitbit.

    Any suggestion for an amateur runner?