Does Fitbit count steps on a treadmill?

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Treadmill running has a lot of great benefits. It is one of the most efficient ways of burning calories (which is excellent for weight loss), treadmills are easy to use, and you get precise control over all parameters (e.g., incline, pace, etc.). 

If you have a Fitbit, you are likely using it to track your workouts, health, and fitness, so of course, you will want to use it to track your treadmill sessions. However, you might have heard that fitness trackers aren’t accurate with treadmills. So can you use your Fitbit? Let’s take a look. 

Why can fitness trackers be inaccurate for treadmills?

Your fitness tracker uses a variety of metrics to track your workout, physical activity, and your fitness. Then, it compiles all of this data together to give you as accurate readings as possible. 


This measures changes in speed and distance. When it is implanted in your fitness tracker, it measures bounces up and down as a way of collecting your step count.


An accelerometer gives your fitness tracker readings on a 3-point axis, perfect for step counting. A gyroscope helps track more complicated workouts and exercises because it extends to a 6-point axis. 


An altimeter measures how high up you are and is helpful in tracking how many flights of steps you climb and your inclines when you are running. 


A GPS connects with satellites to precisely pinpoint your location. It is helpful for running because it shows the exact distance you have run and can help to calculate your pace. 

Heart rate

Your fitness tracker will measure your heart rate while you run. It can use this to calculate your calorie burn and give you information about your heart health and fitness level. 

All of this information together is useful for tracking your running, but this can throw things off when you run on a treadmill. Your fitness tracker will no longer use GPS to calculate your pace and distance so that you won’t get the same amount of information about your running statistics. 

When you use a Fitbit device, it will often automatically start tracking your workout, but it usually won’t recognize the treadmill running as running automatically. Instead, it is more likely to think you are cycling or doing something else. 

How can I measure treadmill running with my Fitbit device?

Thankfully, you don’t have to rely on the automatic categorization of workouts for your Fitbit to track your treadmill running. The majority of Fitbits now have a treadmill mode that you can activate. This tells the Fitbit tracker that the Exercise you are about to start is running on a treadmill to track your run more accurately. 

Which Fitbits have treadmill mode?

Most modern Fitbits now have treadmill mode. These include:

  • Fitbit Charge 4 and 5
  • Fitbit Luxe
  • Fitbit Inspire HR
  • Fitbit Flex
  • Fitbit Charge HR
  • Fitbit Sense
  • Fitbit Versa 1 and 2

The Fitbit is one of the best fitness tracker devices for measuring treadmill steps and runs because it allows calibration. 

When tracking your running and walking, your Fitbit tracker needs to measure your distance traveled and the number of steps you have taken per minute. But of course, this varies depending on the length of your legs and how big your stride is. So to get an accurate cadence (the number of steps you take per minute), you need to know how big each of your steps is. 

Within the Fitbit App, you can manually input your stride length for walking and running. This allows your Fitbit to track your treadmill exercise more accurately. 

How do I input my stride length into the Fitbit app?

The settings for stride length can be a little challenging to find, so let’s take a look. First, open the Fitbit App. Then click on the Today tab. Here, you will be able to see your profile image. Click on that and go to Account Settings. From there, scroll down to Activity and Wellness and click on Exercise. When you scroll down the list to the bottom, you will find a tab for stride length. Here you can input two stride lengths: walking and running. 

How do I calculate my stride length?

There are two ways of measuring your stride length, one of which is more accurate but is also a little more involved. It is usually better to strive for accuracy because whatever data you put into your Fitbit will affect the accuracy of the data you get out of it. 

The quickest but least accurate way of measuring your stride length is to compare your height to a table of average stride lengths. This will give you the best estimate for the length of your steps based on your height and sex. The average stride length is height in inches multiplied by 0.413 for females and multiplied by 0.415 for males. 

The more accurate way of measuring stride length is to do a measured walk and run. There are two ways of doing this. The first is to measure and mark a specific distance and then walk it at your natural pace, counting the number of steps you take. Then divide the distance by the number of steps you took to calculate the length of each step. Then repeat the test but run the distance instead of walking. 

Another method is to use your wet footprints. For example, walk or run through a puddle and then carry on for a short distance. Next, get a tape measure and physically measure the distance between each footprint and calculate the average. 

Whichever method you choose, having a correct stride length in your Fitbit tracker will help it to track your treadmill exercise with much greater accuracy. 

Is there anything else I can use to measure my treadmill exercise?

If you happen to be walking or running on a Life Fitness treadmill, this will sync with your Fitbit App via the Life Fitness App. This gives your Fitbit app all of the information from the treadmill about pace, incline, and more, which it can then sync to your heart rate and step data. 

Some people use a foot pod to track their treadmill workouts. These are the best treadmill step counter because they physically track the foot’s movement. There isn’t currently, however, a foot pod that will sync directly with the Fitbit App. 

To wrap up

Your Fitbit device can help you do all manner of things, mainly if you use Fitbit Premium. However, people often found it challenging to navigate their Fitbit to track their treadmill running and walking. However, it isn’t as difficult as it first seems because most Fitbit devices now have a Treadmill Mode that is specifically designed to track your physical activity on a treadmill. 

To get the most out of your Fitbit while you’re on a treadmill, you should make sure that you calibrate the stride length as accurately as possible. This will help make the step counting more accurate and give you your cadence.