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Why is my smartwatch not counting my steps?

Why is my smartwatch not counting my steps

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Trying to find out why your fitness watch is not counting your steps is a big headache. Common issues can be that the integrated pedometer can undercount, overcount, or does not track any steps! I have learned that most of the time it may not be working appropriately and need some troubleshooting.

Your gadget uses an algorithm to track your steps. However, like all technologies, they are not perfect although the manufacturers keep working to make them more functional and accurate.

Unfortunately, many activity tracker devices have the same problems but the good news is most times these kinds of situations have a solution. So why are they not tracking steps?

Firstly, make sure your fitness watch band does not leave any marks or slide around the wrist. This may affect data accuracy. It should be worn 2 to 3 fingers above the wrist bone and fit comfortably but not too tight.

In general, some will not track steps until you link them to their application and select the ‘Step’ mode. However, to enable this mode in other activity trackers you need to go to Settings and choose ‘Dominant’. Now, depending on the device, you may want to choose ‘Non-Dominant’ instead.

But what if the above situations don’t apply to you? Do not worry, we have researched and found other possible factors that affect your fitness wearable device’s accuracy and functionality.

Below are some reasons that you still may encounter this issue. Our expert recommendations will help you resolve the problem and prevent you from having the same situation again.

Recommended reading: Which fitness watch is best for me? Check out our top picks!

Unfortunately, you don’t know much about the product’s efficiency until you open the package. Also, two products made with the same technology may work differently.

How do step trackers work?

It is very important to learn how step-trackers work so you can have an idea of how complicated technology can be and help you know your pedometer. Fitness watches with step trackers have a pedometer integrated.

Nowadays, new technology uses more sophisticated algorithms to calculate calories and other stats. Most of the fitness devices use a three-axis accelerometer as their sensor to measure your motion. They use algorithms that turn data into stats.

Each smart fitness wearable uses a different type of algorithm. For example, a fitness device may count wrist movement as a step while other devices dismiss slow movement. Also, to calculate your steps the algorithm calculates your movement if it is small or fast enough to count it as a step. See, that’s why you may think that your fitness watch is not counting steps or not working appropriately.

Now, how a small movement is small? It depends on the thresholds. That means different thresholds and different readings. That’s why it is hard to determine which activity tracker is the most accurate because anything can affect the accuracy of a fitness tracker.

Fitness watches also use smart algorithms to figure out whether the movements they detect are steps or just random shakes. Sometimes, it might even know when you’re climbing stairs or hiking uphill. It has additional sensors like a gyroscope that can sense changes in elevation or tilt. This helps it differentiate between regular steps and more challenging movements, like going up a mountain or conquering a staircase.
Keep in mind that it constantly learns and adapts to your specific movements and patterns.

So why your smart band is not counting steps

These may be the reasons why your device is not counting or falsely counting your steps. And we’re going to explain each one of them here:
  1. You may not have downloaded your fitness wearable application. For your activity tracker to work you need to download it and link it to your gadget.
  2. You may not be walking fast enough. Yep. When we walk faster we move our arms and sensors can detect the steps taken more effectively.
  3. You may not have taken more than 10 steps. Many fitness trackers start to count steps until you take 10 or 15 steps to prevent false positives.
  4. Did you charge your fitness tracking device? That’s right. Make sure it has enough battery life or your steps will be tracked effectively.
  5. Some physical activities such as cycling, elliptical, or other equipment are not as trackable as walking and running.
  6. You may have not updated your device application. Please keep in mind that not keeping your tracker application affects your gadget’s functionality.
  7. Your tracker may not be connected to your smartphone. Make sure the Bluetooth is on before linking the device to your phone.
  8. You may have not read the manual to see how your device works. It is very important to get familiar with it before starting to use it.
  9. Your fitness watch may not be calibrated properly. Fitness trackers like Garmin allow you to enter the number of steps to cover a known distance and they will calculate your stride length. This helps to get an accurate distance.
  10. The sensors in your smartwatch may be dirty or damaged, which can prevent them from accurately tracking movement.

Other unusual factors that affect your step counter accuracy

  1. One of the reasons a smart band does not count steps is that the firmware may need an upgrade. This affects the functionality of your activity tracker. Open the application and try to find the firmware on the application on the main menu.
  2. You may have not updated the time zone an hour. If you are traveling make sure the time is correct.

Your pedometer is not working? This is what I did!

A step counter is very easy to use and read. Now, it depends if the pedometer is integrated into a wearable fitness device or if you are using a unit that tracks steps taken. We strongly suggest you read the instructions or user manual to get familiar with your device. However, the below steps will explain how to make your device work the right way and avoid any frustrations.

When the pedometer is integrated into the fitness watch

Almost every fitness watch features an integrated pedometer to motivate you to move more. Not only do they track your steps but also feature other functions. For example, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 (check out this cool fitness tracker on Amazon) allows you to set your goals, and view personal records, total distance, and total steps on a 7-week, 4-week, and 12-month basis. To use the pedometer feature you need to do the following:

  1. Keep your tracker charged or at least make sure it has sufficient battery life.
  2. Download any fitness application as applicable.
  3. Go to the menu and choose settings
  4. See if there is an option to choose Steps mode depending on the device. Also, you even may need to enter if you are using your activity tracker on your dominant wrist or not
  5. Keep in mind that you may need to take 15 or 10 steps for the smart fitness tracker to start counting steps to avoid any false positives.
  6. Enjoy your walking or running

Regular Pedometers or step counter

The great thing about pedometers is that they do not need to be connected to any device. Some of them only count steps although many also monitor speed and calories which gives you a better idea of your progress. They are very easy to use and suitable for everyone just like the Neskla 3D Pedometer (Read more about this affordable bestseller I found on Amazon). Many step counters can be put in a pocket, purse, or clipped on your waist, belt, ankle, shoe, or bra. It is also very discrete and you can wear them with types of clothing. Just turn it on and that’s it! Most of them have bottoms to program and different modes.

What if your pedometer is still not working?

If you charged your fitness device, connected it to your cell, the app/firmware is current, Bluetooth is on and you tried everything but still not working you may have to contact your manufacturer.

It is very important that you provide as much information as you can so they can find a better solution. You may have to return your tracker to get a refund, an exchange or to have it repaired depending on the seller’s policy.

Keep in mind that not every company operates the same. Every company has different rules and regulations. However, the sooner you address the problem the better.


We hope the suggestions above have helped your fitness tracker with a step counter. Although they can help you stay active and can give you an idea of how much exercise you are getting, they are not 100% accurate. That’s fine to me because their accuracy and functionality will continue improving over time.

Also, knowing the product well will help you resolve any issues that you may encounter which can help you save time and money. That’s why it is important to read the user’s manual.

Whether you decide to use a pedometer or not don’t stop walking, jogging, or running. Keep moving toward better health and stay on track with fitness goals!

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