How well are your calories, steps, and more being tracked?- How Accurate Is Fitbit?
Fitbit is the world’s most popular activity tracker, calculating your daily activity while motivating you to move throughout the day. But how accurate is a Fitbit? Wrist-worn smart watches and fitness monitors (ie, wearables) have become widely adopted by consumers and are gaining increased attention from researchers for their potential contribution to naturalistic digital measurement of health in a scalable, mobile, and unobtrusive way.
Fitbit trackers and smartwatches collect personal data in several different categories. You can track your daily steps, calories, heart rate, and sleep. How Accurate Is Fitbit?
You’ll get much information to review daily on your Fitbit app’ How Accurate Is Fitbit, and the idea is that you can make adjustments based on that data, as well as get motivated in reaching your health and fitness goals.
Fitbit devices do have some accuracy issues but do give you a general sense of how you have performed. If you have serious health issues that need monitoring, you should consult a medical professional who uses a specialized medical device. But, if you’re generally trying to get healthy and want a picture of how you’re doing, the Fitbit is accurate enough.
Various studies have examined the accuracy of these devices in controlled laboratory settings (eg, treadmill and stationary bike); however, no studies have investigated the heart rate accuracy of wearables during a continuous and ecologically valid 24-hour period of actual consumer device use conditions
Learn how Fitbit calculates your steps and how well it keeps tabs on steps taken, calories burned, and sleep. – How Accurate Is Fitbit?
Here’s five ways to change the settings to ensure you get the very best results.
Tip 1: Improve step counting and distance accuracy
If you’re finding your Fitbit is off the 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.
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.
1. In the Fitbit app, tap the ‘Account’ icon which should be the icon with your profile photo if you’ve used one. Then scroll down to ‘Activity and Wellness’ and tap.
2. Next, select ‘Exercise’ and 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 depending on your device’s support.
3. If you toggle it off, you’ll be able to set this manually.
Tip 2: Improve sleep tracking accuracy
You can calibrate your Fitbit for sleep, even if you don’t have the advanced Sleep Stages and Sleep Insights features. Adjusting sensitivity differs depending on whether you’re paired to an iPhone or Android phone. For iPhone users:
1. In the Fitbit app, go to Account > Activity & Wellness > Sleep.
2. By default, this will be set to ‘Normal’, but you can tweak it to ‘Sensitive’ if you find that the tracker isn’t registering your sleep, or is registering odd results.
3. For Android users, you’ll need to log into the web dashboard, go to the settings tab, and scroll down to the page to find the ability to toggle sleep sensitivity between normal and sensitive options.
Tip 3: Calibrate exercise detection
Through Fitbit SmartTrack, workouts are automatically detected, including walking, running, cycling and even swimming.
By going into ‘Account’, ‘Activity & Wellness 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.
Tip 4: Improve swim tracking accuracy
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 > Activity & Wellness and going to Exercise. Then tap through to the swimming option to adjust the pool length.
On the Sense and Versa series smartwatches, you can do this before each swim on the watch itself by tapping the cog icon in the top left and adjusting the distance.
Make sure you do this to ensure the best accuracy in the pool.
Tip 5: How to improve heart rate accuracy
Most of Fitbit’s devices include an optical based heart rate monitor. Just the Sense currently offers an additional ECG sensor to offer medical grade readings of your heart. For that optical sensor, there are some ways to improve accuracy of readings.
The first thing to do is to make sure you’re wearing your Fitbit on top of your wrist and the back of the device is in contact with your skin.
If you’re exercising with it on, make sure to get a slightly tighter fit to reduce the chances of the movement which can impact on the sensor taking readings. Crucially, you don’t want it to be a constricting or tight that it feels uncomfortable to work out with.
When you’re not using the heart rate sensor during exercise, make sure you wear your device a finger width’s above your wrist bone.
Tip 6: Which wrist are you wearing your Fitbit?
A small point, 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 Account in the top left from the Today page, then tap on your synced Fitbit device. From there, you can scroll down the page where you’ll see Wrist Placement. You can tap to switch between dominant and non dominant options.
What difference does that make? Well, wearing the device on your dominate hand decreases sensitivity to step counting and over counting when you’re not moving. Wearing your Fitbit on the non-dominant wrist, increases sensitivity of step counting and reduces underreporting of steps.
How Does Fitbit Work to Track Your Steps?
Fitbit uses an accelerometer with three axes that can detect movements in any direction. When worn on the body, a proprietary algorithm that looks for specific movement patterns analyzes the data captured by the Fitbit’s accelerometer. – How Accurate Is Fitbit?
Together, the data from the accelerometer and the counting algorithm determine the number of steps taken, the distance covered, the energy spent, the intensity of exercise, and sleep.
How Accurate Is Fitbit?
Experts consider Fitbits surprisingly accurate, but they’re not perfect. Because movement is subject to different factors, they’re known to undercount or overcount steps at times. Walking on a plush carpet or pushing a shopping cart or stroller may cause Fitbit to undercount steps. Driving down a bumpy road or riding a bike may cause it to overcount steps. – How Accurate Is Fitbit?
According to a study on Fitbit accuracy published by the NCBI, researchers found that Fitbit devices were “acceptably accurate” for step counting about 50% of the time. Additionally, they found that accuracy increased depending on where the device is worn:
- For jogging, wrist placement was the most accurate.
- For normal-paced walking, wearing the Fitbit on the torso provides the most accurate measurements.
- For slow or very slow walking, placing it on the ankle provided the best accuracy.
Meanwhile, Fitbits aren’t great at calculating energy expenditure (i.e., calories burned and workout intensity). They tend to overestimate higher-intensity activities while underestimating distance traveled with fast walking. But for sleep tracking, Fitbit devices were on par with research-grade accelerometers—in other words, accurate.
Based on a 2017 study, the Fitbit Surge was significantly more accurate in counting calories than the Apple Watch, Basis Peak, Microsoft Band, Mio Alpha 2, PulseOn, and Samsung Gear S2.
How to Increase the Accuracy of Your Fitbit
If you’re concerned your Fitbit isn’t tracking your activity correctly; How Accurate Is Fitbit?, or you want to ensure the most accurate results, here are the steps you can take to help increase the accuracy of your Fitbit. = How Accurate Is Fitbit?
WEAR YOUR DEVICE CORRECTLY
Where and how you wear your Fitbit can impact accuracy; How Accurate Is Fitbit?. In general, the device should remain in close contact with your body when you’re exercising (and not dangling from a necklace, backpack, or loose clothing).
Here’s what Fitbit recommends:
- For wrist-based Fitbits: Wear your Fitbit watch on top of your wrist, not too tight or too loose. For devices that track heart rate, make sure it’s touching your skin, and wear it a bit tighter on your wrist when working out.
- For clip-based Fitbits: Wear the Fitbit close to your body with the screen facing outward. Secure the clip tightly to any part of your clothing. Experiment with different locations to see what works best for you (more secure is better).
CHANGE YOUR APP SETTINGS
Fitbit relies on the information you provide in the app to calculate your steps and daily activity accurately.
Make sure the following settings are set up correctly in the app. These options are on the dashboard, either under Device Settings or Personal Information.
- Wrist orientation: By default, Fitbit is set to your left hand, i.e., most people’s non-dominant hand. If you’re wearing it on your right hand, update this setting to Right.
- Height: Fitbit uses height to estimate your walking and running stride lengths. Enter your correct height in inches or centimeters to ensure the most accurate step count.
- Stride Length: Fitbit uses a default stride setting based on your height. For greater accuracy, change this and manually enter your stride length. See How Does Fitbit Track Steps to learn how to do this.
- Exercise App: To better measure workout intensity, use Fitbit’s exercise app (particular models only) to track your workouts, especially for activities like spinning or yoga. The app has Android, iOS, and Windows versions.
- Use the GPS: If you’re not swinging your arms when walking (for example, when pushing a stroller), you can use Fitbit’s GPS feature to calculate your daily activity better (specific models only).
Based on the research, you can potentially increase your Fitbit’s accuracy by changing the location of where you wear your Fitbit during certain activities.
- When walking at an average pace, wear the Fitbit on your torso (clip models).
- When walking slowly, wear the Fitbit on your ankle (clip models).
- When jogging, wear the Fitbit on your wrist (wrist models).
- When sleeping, Fitbit suggests wearing a classic wristband (wrist models).
Generally speaking, you shouldn’t sweat your Fitbit’s accuracy too much, How Accurate Is Fitbit. Unless you’re relying on a Fitbit for making healthcare decisions, being off a few steps or calories won’t noticeably affect your device’s use and enjoyment.