How does Fitbit count steps? (Find out here)

In this guide, we will discuss “How does Fitbit count steps”, the science behind step count, how accelerometers work, and some additional considerations.

How does Fitbit count steps?

You may wonder, ‘How does Fitbit count steps?’ Well, Fitbit uses a three-axis accelerometer to count how many steps you have taken throughout the day and converts the recorded motion into reviewable data. However, consider that Fitbits are often less accurate when tracking and calculating distance travelled and calories burned, otherwise, step count is considered reliable.

Moreover, activities like driving, playing the drums, riding, might also contribute to step count so consider removing your Fitbit if you are doing any of these. 

Have you ever wondered how many steps have you taken a day? For some people, walking and counting their steps during the day becomes challenging since as the day goes by you get distracted by so many things. As indicated on businessinsider.com, “If you log at least 10,000 steps each day, say many experts, you will be doing your long-term health a favor. Go for 15,000 or more, and all the better”.

Consequently, if tracking your steps is something you are curious about then you’d like to consider getting a Fitbit or any other device capable of doing so. However, Fitbit is not only useful on counting steps. It also has other functionalities like measuring your heart rate, sleep cycle and more. 

The science behind the Step count

As we have mentioned, Fitbits have a three-axis accelerometer that can tell when you are moving forward and backward, side to side, and up or down. Consequently, your Fitbit is able to detect movement while you are walking or running, recording it so you can see it later.

Fitbit uses a complex algorithm to tell when you are moving on your two feet and when you are in a vehicle or moving your arms but without making any major movements (overall motionless). It rules out motions it determines are not steps. So your step count at the end of the day is pretty accurate when compared with other devices. 

How can I check my step count? To see your activity at the end of the day, push the main button on the side of your Fitbit and push it repeatedly, or tap the screen to move to the different stats. You can also open the paired app on your phone or access your dashboard on a computer, to view both your daily step count and the history. Simply go to the ‘Activities’ tab and then click ‘Today’ or choose a date range.

How does the accelerometer work?

Accelerometers are tiny devices that are able to detect direction of movement by sensing changes in gravity. They can be found in a range and variety of devices, including smartphones which is the reason why your screen rotates when your phone does. 

Moreover, we can find that accelerometers rely on technology called Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems. This is a tiny machine that can convert movement into an electronic signal that can convert movement into an electronic signal.  

How does Fitbit estimate distance travelled?

As indicated on help.fitbit.com, “Fitbit devices use the formula below to calculate distance. Your stride length is determined by your height and sex”. 

The formula is:

Steps x Stride Length= Distance Traveled

Moreover, if you track your activity with GPS, your device will calculate the distance using GPS data rather than steps. However, if you begin moving before you get GPSsignal, your Fitbit calculates distance using your steps until the GPS connects. 

How does my Fitbit device count extra steps?

The algorithm on Fitbit devices is designed to look for intensity and motion patterns that are indicative of people walking and running. If you are working at the office or cooking, which involves arm movements, your device may add some extra steps. 

“For most customers, the number of extra steps added by arm-based movement isn’t significant when compared to your overall stats (help.fitbit.com)”.

However, if you usually ride a bike you may worry about adding to the step count. As indicated on help.fitbit.com, when you are riding a bike, your Fitbit may add some steps to your count. For many users, the number of steps added when riding a big is not significant when compared to your overall stats. 

Moreover, if you device has an exercise app, make sure you are setting your device to the correct activity before starting your workout but you could also use the automatic tracking to detect your bike ride, make sure you set the Outdoor Bike exercise so it can be automatically recognized. 

What happens if my step count seems inaccurate? 

If you feel or you have noticed that the step count is inaccurate, confirm the following are set on the Fitbit app:

  • Your wrist settings.
  • Your height.

Since the Fitbit app uses your height to estimate your walking and running stride lengths, you may want to measure and manually adjust the values if your legs are longer or shorter than the average. Moreover, when you start walking, your steps may not update on your device straight away but after 10 or 15 continuous steps, you can notice the steps catch up and start updating in real time. 

Tips to make sure your Fitbit daily activity is accurate

  • Make sure you are wearing your device correctly, this means, either on the tip of your wrist or in the clip. If you switch your device to your other wrist, it is important to update the Wrist settings in the app. 
  • Confirm the personal information you have entered when you set up your Fitbit account is accurate. 
  • On certain devices you can use the Exercise app to track your daily workouts and see the data of your heart rate measurements. This data can better determine calories burned during exercise, especially for activities like spinning or yoga. 
  • For your device to count steps during a walk or run, your arm must swing back and forth as you move. If you need both hands (to push a stroller, for example), or if you hold a dog leash with the same arm that you wear your device on, consider using GPS to better calculate your distance traveled and calories burned. 

Why is this blog about How does Fitbit count steps important?

As we have discussed on how does Fitbit count steps, we have found that Fitbit unlike other devices, have a pretty accurate step count but may add some extra steps in certain circumstances. Additionally, we have talked about the science behind the step count as an accelerometer that detects our movement. 

Finally, if you have noticed that the step count does not match then make sure to check you are wearing the device correctly and check the settings. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How does Fitbit count steps

How does a Fitbit measure step?

If you wonder how does a Fitbit measure steps on an Android device, here are the steps:

From the fitbit.com dashboard, click the gear icon > Settings.
Click Personal Info.
Under Advanced Settings, find Stride Length and click Edit.
Click Set Your Own and adjust your stride length.
Click Submit and sync your device.

Does Fitbit count steps if arms aren’t moving?

Your device may count the steps even if your arms are not moving but slightly lower than usual, even if you are bushing a stroller or shopping cart. However, if you are walking outside, use the GPS to track your route, pace and distance.

Does Fitbit track steps driving?

With a Fitbit on your wrist, you can be sure that you’re accurately informed about your steps, heart rate, distance, or sleep. The tracker might count fewer steps than you actually take, count them when riding a bike, or say that you get more exercise when you switch the tracker from your left to your right wrist.

Does Fitbit count steps on phone?

Fitbit can count steps on your phone using MobileTrac. The Fitbit app without a Fitbit device by using your phone’s sensors to track basic activity data including steps, distance, and calories burned. However, MobileTrack does not track floors, sleep or active minutes.

Do Fitbits count steps accurately?

Your Fitbit is said to count steps accurately since it uses a three-axis accelerometer to count how many steps you have taken each day. Fitbit will convert the recorded motion into reviewable data. However, Fitbit’s are often said to be less accurate in tracking distance travelled and calories burned, but step count is considered reliable.

References 

Businessinsider.com

Help.fitbit.com

Help.fitbit.com: How does my Fitbit device calculate my daily activity?

lifewire.com

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