We've all looked down at our Fitbit and wondered how it really knows what our heartbeat is, or just how it knows the amount of steps we've taken - but did you know there's a way to actually improve the accuracy of these numbers?
By calibrating your fitness tracker or smartwatch, you're giving it a helping hand in logging your activity from the wrist - whether that's floors climbed, hours slept or calories burned.
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Through our years of testing, we've found Fitbit's algorithms to be fairly accurate and consistent with the rest of the industry, but nothing is perfect. So, here's how to tweak the settings to ensure you get the right results.
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. To do this, follow the instructions below:
- In the Fitbit app, tap the Account icon in the top right and scroll down to Advanced Settings.
- From here, you should see an option for Stride Length. If you haven't tweaked this before, it's likely set to automatically track your steps, adjusting whenever you've ran with GPS enabled.
- If you toggle it off, you'll be able to set this manually.
Don't know how to work out your stride length? You can find out 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 for maximum accuracy.
Calibrate exercise detection
Fitbit uses a feature called SmartTrack on all devices other than the retired Charge, Flex, One and Zip trackers. 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?
- In the Fitbit app, go to Account > Advanced Settings > Sleep Sensitivity.
- By default, this will be set to 'Normal', but you can tweak it to 'Sensitive' if you find that your tracker isn't registering your sleep, or is registering odd results.
Set swimming pool lengths
If you want to track a swim session, make sure you've calibrated the tracker to the length of the pool. You can do this by going into your Account > Advanced Settings and then tapping through to the option to adjust the pool length.
On the Ionic and Versa, 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.
Wear your Fitbit on the same wrist
A small one, but still important: make sure you tell the Fitbit app which wrist you're wearing your Fitbit on. You can do this by going into the device settings through the icon in the top let, and from there 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.