Does Fitbit Work on a Treadmill? (What Can It Track?)

Jogging or running outside can prove to be troublesome sometimes; it might be too cold, too hot, or too polluted to go to the park for a good session. That is why some of us have resorted to treadmill exercise to cut the hassle of the outside world.

Fitbit device is one of the most sought-after fitness trackers that is used by millions around the world. But lately, there seems to be some confusion on the buzzing question, does Fitbit work on a treadmill? 

It does! But you would need the latest model with a built-in treadmill mode. If you’re still confused, check out this article, where we’ll talk about it in detail.

1. Fitbits on Treadmill — Hit or Miss?

Whether you are planning to purchase a Fitbit or already got one, you might need to know whether you will get accurate results about distance traveled, calories burned, the number of steps taken, and miscellaneous.

Fitbit functions on treadmills, yes. But not all of the models do because the treadmill is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and it takes a more developed, high-end Fitbit fitness tracker to track HIIT. 

The Fitbit device you are using needs to have the treadmill mode as a feature to give what you want. And the mentionable Fitbit models of that category are:

01.

Fitbit Sense

Fitbit Sense was made to work on treadmills and give you accurate data on the followings; ECG report during your treadmill run, heart rate, real-time pace, and of course, counts steps on a treadmill. 

This gadget not only will provide you with a lot of smartwatch features but also has one of the most advanced built-in GPS.

It is furthermore equipped with a pulse oximeter to detect your SpO2 and shell temperature along with your stress level by using an EDA meter.

02.

Fitbit Charge 5

Among the Fitbit trackers with treadmill mode, Fitbit Charge 5 is one of the latest lines of Fitbit to debut.

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It has won the hearts of many by being one of the most precise in terms of GPS, exercise report, calories burned, heart rate, and status of your heart health. 

03.

Fitbit Luxe

One of the slimmest devices in the Fitbit kingdom is the Fitbit Luxe which caters to the need of women for a jewelry-like activity tracker.

Although it doesn’t win the game for outdoor activities since it doesn’t come with a GPS, it is a great choice for indoor activities and exercises, such as treadmills. This provides accurate data on your level of movement and degree of activity for each day.

04.

Fitbit Versa 3

Although a game-changer, Versa 3 has some substantial discrepancies between treadmill steps and the actual number of steps in a record. That is because it counts walking stride instead of a running stride. This can be fixed by taking a test run with the help of GPS on your Fitbit app.

2. Why Does Your Fitbit Not Record Treadmill Exercises?

If you use the models mentioned above (or some other model designated to have treadmill mode), but it doesn’t track exact numbers, then it’s time to fix one small habit. 

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The Fitbit tracker tracks steps by recording the movement of your wrist. As many of us hold on to the bar or the rail of the machine while exercising, the Fitbit records you as stationary; hence fails to measure your steps.

(This will also be an issue for people who use an under-the-desk treadmill or an office treadmill while their hands are busy on their laptops. )

Just don’t hold on to the bars and let your arms naturally swing by your side. You will have no problem getting a near-perfect record on your Fitbit. Some people want to wear the Fitbit on their ankle instead of their wrist as they can’t do without the support of the bar. 

Another important thing to remember is to maintain your speed. Don’t overdo it, just run at the speed of your treadmill (if it is a digital one).

3. How Do You Set Up Treadmill Mode?

Most of the time, your Fitbit doesn’t come with the treadmill-related activity on its priority list, but you can go to the settings to see it as an option. Here is how to:

  1. Open your Fitbit app on your phone.
  2. Go to the “Settings” or “Set-up”.
  3. Find and select “Exercise Shortcuts Area”
  4. Tap and choose treadmill as an exercise.

Voila! You should be able to record your treadmill exercises now.

4. Is Fitbit Accurate on Treadmill? (Calibration Technique)

This is an interesting concern and deserves an accurate answer, the least. Whether or not your Fitbit will record your treadmill walk, speed and distance accurately depend on the calibration.

Step 1: Start with Your Stride

Since this is the chief component that gets measured, it is helpful to measure your stride length by using a measuring tape and inputting it into the app. It is better to have your incline mentioned in the app as well.

Step 2: Disable GPS

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Disable GPS temporarily to exclude the possibility of outdoor activity recording as well as incorrect distance and speed reports.

Step 3: Sync

If you happen to use a smart treadmill, there is a good chance you can sync your treadmill stats directly to the Fitbit app. Give it a check and restart your tracker if needed.

Make sure to always set the mode on the treadmill, lest it should try to record jogging and running based on GPS distance.

There are increasing concerns regarding the fact that Fitbit trackers count 30-40 percent less than what you actually perform. But that can be solved by manually calibrating and adjusting the device, as mentioned above.

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5. How Do You Count Your Stride?

To manually input your stride length in your Fitbit, you need to count your steps for point one mile on the treadmill display. Then you will multiply that number by two and then divide the number of steps by 1/10th mile. After that, divide the latter by the former.

I know it sounds insane, but it is legit and will require very basic knowledge of mathematics. 

6. Treadmill Shows Different Results — Why?

Your treadmill shows different results than your Fitbit does for indoor walks; at the same time, outdoor walks give different results than indoor ones. And why is that?

Your treadmill counts steps based on how many times the belt rotates per minute multiplied by minutes performed. And we have already discussed how your Fitbit calculates steps. This is how the former one will give out more precise results.

Outdoor strides are longer and smoother. While treadmill strides are shorter to help you fit on the belt. Moreover, the treadmill feels a bit tighter to walk on, changing the strength of your steps even more.

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7. Pros and Cons: Which Outweighs?

Nothing is an unmixed blessing. Using your Fitbit on a treadmill comes with its fair share of pros and cons, some of which can be:

Pros:

  • A smart option for people whose treadmills don’t have a health metrics dashboard/ digital display to record and show details exercises.
  • This is the only way you can add calories burned on a treadmill to your daily report.

Cons:

  • Not exactly precise. Falters to give out results accurately.
  • For better results, regular calibration and manual resetting are essential, which can be time-consuming.

8. The Verdict

Honestly, the jury says that Fitbit works fine on treadmills, just not that great. Your first choice should be to use the accelerometer of your treadmill to get the best results. 

If you can’t, figure out the numerical gap (in percentage) by borrowing your friend’s Garmin (which is the most precise on the treadmill) or other more accurate fitness trackers and just keep adjusting this gap after every workout.

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Fitbit tracker is a great one at the end of the day, despite these small imbalances. Fitness should be a habit, and though it is important to put a number on your accomplishments, some days it is nice to celebrate afford over achievements.

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