Does Walking in place with a Fitbit count as steps?

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According to the Mayo Clinic, an average American walks between 1.5 to 2 miles a day, corresponding to roughly 3,500 steps depending on the morphology.

We all heard about the 10,000 steps daily milestone to stay healthy and even weight loss. An activity tracker is a great way to check your exercise routine and progress. A Fitbit device will record your steps, but it can also be used as a sleep tracking device and an overall healthcare vitals monitor.

We do not always have the opportunity to go to the gym, and when the weather is grim, walking around the block may not be the best option. A nice workaround is walking in place. The question is whether you can use your Fitbit device to record your steps in front of the TV and make it part of your exercise routine.

Is this cheating to walk in place indoors?

Not at all! The Covid pandemic changed the way we work and the way we exercise. It is now becoming possible to exercise at home and even attend online classes. Obe Fitness is one of the numerous at-home exercise providers that will help you stay fit without leaving the comfort of your home.

Even though it is always nice to walk outdoor and breathe the fresh air, most of us live in cities, and the fresh air often smells of car exhaustion. So walking in the door may not be ideal and can become tedious at some point. Yet, at least, it will be an exercise and will let you stay fit one step at a time.

Does Fitbit have a dedicated indoor walk setting?

In short, no! Fitbit wearable devices do not come with a dedicated indoor walk setting, but as you will see, there are numerous ways to overcome this.

Walking indoors, walking outdoors, or even walking on a treadmill are the same activities as long as your Fitbit wearable devices are concerned.

A fitness tracker relies on numerous sensors to measure health metrics such as the heart rate or blood oxygen saturation, physical activities, and even the air pressure to define the number of floors climbed.

When walking, the step count makes the most of a built-in accelerometer that will track the rhythmic movements of the arms. When exercising on a treadmill or even in place, it is critical to walk normally and balance the arms as you would do when walking outdoors.

Even if Fitbit does not come with a specific “indoor walk” setting, there are somehow ways to overcome this. We will use the Fitbit Sense as the reference even though our advice will work with most Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers.

The Fitbit Sense comes with two exercise settings that will do the trick just right when walking in place, namely the treadmill or the walk exercise shortcuts.

How to set up the exercise shortcuts for accurate tracking

As we mentioned, for proper in-door walk tracking, the critical point is to move your arm. This way, the accelerometer will detect that you are walking. 

Both the treadmill and the walk settings will do the trick and detect your indoor walk. However, some users somehow reported that Fitbit devices were slightly undercounting the number of steps when walking indoors. We suspect that it is linked to the lack of hand movements and that you are not moving forward when walking in place, which will confuse the device.

Don’t worry. The step count will not be dramatically wrong, and only the distance walked will be concerned. One important point to remember is that GPS tracking will, in most cases, be selected by default. You do not need it when walking in place, and GPS dramatically impacts battery life. So, make sure to turn it off when walking in place.

Also, keep in mind that the total distance may not be 100% accurate when walking in place as the stride length will be different when walking outdoors or indoors.

Does Fitbit count walking indoors as an exercise?

Fitbit comes with the possibility to recognize exercises automatically. This feature is helpful and will save you a lot of hassle. However, we have to admit that it can sometimes be a bit tedious to start an exercise or workout on your Fitbit device manually.

If you are just like me, you will forget it and only remember it at the end of your workout. Luckily, walking in place will be automatically recognized as a usual walk and added to your total number of exercises.

As we mentioned, we recommend that you turn off the GPS setting. When recognized automatically, the GPS will turn on and drain your battery for no benefit. So to avoid having to charge your device too often, turn off the GPS default setting, and all should be fine.

To wrap up

Step counting when walking in place can be achieved with any Fitbit device. As long as you correctly choose the tracking mode and do not forget to turn off the GPS, walking while watching TV is a great way to reach your daily steps count without leaving your home.

The Fitbit Charge, Sense, Versa, or Luxe are your health and fitness allies. For staying healthy, practicing physical activity is critical. Even walking at home will bring exercise benefits, and the Fitbit app will always be there to keep the motivation high.