Doctors tell us to aim for 10,000 steps a day, but very few people use a pedometer to measure their steps. Instead, we rely on our fitness smartwatches to tell us when we’ve reached our goals.but should do it Do you trust the pedometer accuracy of your watch?
I decided to test this myself. Wearing six smartwatches at the same time: Apple Watch Series 6, Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, Garmin Forerunner 265, COROS APEX 2 Pro, Fitbit Sense, and Amazfit T-Rex Ultra, I walked around the neighborhood counting every step. . my head (and oh it was boring).
After reaching 5,000 steps, I compared the actual number to the numbers on each watch.then i Ran We walked an additional 1,000 steps to see if it was more or less accurate when moving at a faster pace and longer stride length.
So are smartwatches accurate at counting steps? It depends on which brand you own.
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In his new weekly column, Android Central Fitness Editor Michael Hicks discusses the world of wearables, apps, and the entirety of running and wellness-related fitness tech.
Specifically, I subtracted the “steps” taken before the test started. This puts the starting conditions on par, but the most common cause of pedometer inaccuracy, i.e. the watch’s accelerometer or gyroscope counting “steps” just by moving your arm as part of your daily life. No more measuring.
All that aside, here are the smartwatch pedometer test results after walking 5,000 steps and running 1,000 steps:
- Amazfit T-Rex Ultra: 5,046 walks, 984 runs
- Apple Watch: 4,940 walks, 1,050 runs
- COROS APEX 2 PRO: 5,070 walks, 989 runs
- Fitbit Sense: 4,714 walks, 994 runs
- Garmin Forerunner 265: 5,014 walks, 999 runs
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro: 5,074 walks, 1,039 runs
If you ignore Fitbit Sense’s shockingly inaccurate walking results for a moment, you’ll find that most of these watches are within ±100 steps of their actual results. So double that for 10,000 steps. So if you hit 10K when you go for a walk, you can usually assume that’s not the case. that too It’s off the mark.
The result will only look more correct at first glance. That’s a 5x difference, which shows how the Apple Watch Series 6 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 Pro in particular struggle to accurately measure running strides compared to walking. Dedicated running watches, including Fitbit, are better (although I struggled with early step counting).
Ranking them with the closest accuracy, the Garmin Forerunner 265 is the clear winner, with only 15 steps difference in total, 1 Off for running tracking. Amazfit’s flagship watch (62 steps off) and his COROS APEX 2 Pro (81) came in his 2nd place and his 3rd place, both performing well in his running data as expected. Apple (110), Samsung (113) and Fitbit (292) occupy his last three spots.
[Before anyone gets up in arms, I’m aware the math says Apple was only 10 steps off 6,000 because it was 60 short for walking and 50 long for running, the two inaccuracies canceling each other out. That’s not how I chose to measure accuracy, because someone either only walking or only running wouldn’t get a super-accurate result.]
As a final point, I kept my Android phone (Samsung Galaxy S22+) in my pocket while walking/running. need A smartwatch for counting steps. result? 5069 and 998. I was definitely surprised by this last result, as it far outperformed Samsung’s own top-of-the-range watches. Generally speaking, it’s pretty accurate and roughly on par with Amazfit and COROS. You just don’t get all the other health-tracking benefits that smartwatches offer.
Analyzing a completely unscientific smartwatch pedometer test
Find a bunch of broken watches sleeping in your closet, find all the unique charging cables, recharge them one by one and update them, sync them to your Android phone or iPhone, 3 watches I didn’t realize how tedious it was to squeeze the . on each wrist. In theory, having the watch a little higher on the arm could affect the results a bit, so we did our best to mitigate that and bring the watch closer together.
Then I walked in 93 degree weather with all my neighbors helping me. very Unjudgmental, confused gaze (aka “Why the hell is this weirdo wearing six watches? He’s clock king?”), trying to keep a mental count while maintaining a steady walking pace.
So yeah I idea It’s about doing the test again, perhaps with other watches from the same brand, or just to see if the winners and losers are consistent. But I can’t do the same thing again, sorry! If you want, you can try the experiment at home to see what kind of results you get.
I do not own all smartwatch brands (or I do not own all smartwatch brands). I missed many Wear OS watches like the Pixel Watch, TicWatch, Fossil Gen 6, and other running brands like Polar.
Plus, I don’t have the latest version of a particular brand’s flagship watch, such as the Fitbit Sense 2 or Apple Watch Series 8. But to be fair, I’ve hardly heard of the watch’s accelerometer being X% more accurate than the previous generation. in marketing materials. Now that we’ve reached a baseline of some accuracy, it’s not clear how many brands actually make improvements each year.
Importantly, this is not a scientific test and results can vary greatly depending on height, walking stride length, cadence, and other factors. Additionally, as mentioned earlier, false positives for daily step counts are a serious problem.
My Garmin Forerunner 265 won the battle for step accuracy, but I noticed my step count increasing when I was sitting at my desk doing nothing. It can be caused by something as simple as stretching something or pointing at something. Also, when you’re walking without a natural arm movement, such as when you’re holding your phone in your hand, the lack of forward-backward movement can confuse the accelerometer.
Importantly, if you do If you want to walk 10,000 steps in a day, or whatever the watch’s health algorithm recommends, just to be on the safe side, we recommend taking an extra 200 steps to account for your erroneous steps. If it’s a Fitbit, it’s safe to assume that you’re already well. over it 10K if you win.
My personal average step count over the last six months is ironically 6,000 (100 or so, I think). My goal is to continue to increase this number by 2024 while working to improve my VO2 Max and other metrics.
So I’m happy to say that my Garmin watch, the Forerunner 265, which I use every day, is fairly accurate in step counting, even though there’s still room for improvement.In addition, it again It’s the most accurate when it comes to GPS tracking, and it’s no coincidence that it tops our list of best running watches.
But for those with standard lifestyle watches like the Apple Watch and Galaxy Watch, straying 200 steps from the 10,000 total target isn’t bad enough to seriously consider switching brands. is not. Just a note!
Why accurate step counting is important
According to a study by Journal of the American Medical AssociationWalking 10,000 steps a day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, or mortality in older patients.of NIH (National Institutes of Health) For hypertensive patients, daily walking for 3 months was found to reduce average systolic scores by about 10 points.
One study found that regular walking may improve cognitive function and memory. Journal Studies of Alzheimer’s Disease, I feel the same way. Muscles are strengthened, eliminating the natural weakness and tremors that come with age. Not only does it make you less likely to get type 2 diabetes, it also helps stabilize your blood sugar if you have it.
Plus, of course, there’s the obvious benefit of burning hundreds of calories walking about five miles. Probably between 300 and 600 calories, depending on your weight and pace.
All of this helps explain why many of the best fitness smartwatches incorporate step counting into their watch faces and health snapshots. This is one indicator of overall health benefits, especially for middle-aged and older users facing serious illnesses.