Does Fitbit Work On A Treadmill? Fitbit vs Treadmill Distances

This post sponsored by adidas; gratis products were received but do not bias our opinions or content.

If you wear a Fitbit to track your daily activities, then you might have noticed that it’s tracking doesn’t always match what you get on your treadmill after a workout.

And if you are a regular treadmill runner, then you might have noticed that over time your Fitbit distance tracking gets further and further away from what your treadmill tells you.

If you’re like me, this leaves you wondering what the heck is going on.

Because what good is a fitness tracker that doesn’t properly track your activity? Or is the treadmill the problem?

I did the research on this so you don’t have to! Keep reading to see what I found out.

How To Get Accurate Fitbit Data On A Treadmill

If you’ve ended up here, it’s likely due to your Fitbit giving you vastly different miles and steps data than your treadmill.

I was having the same problem and noticed that this tends to happen only when running on a treadmill, not walking on it.

The good news is that yes, we can help you get your Fitbit to work correctly on a treadmill.

Treadmill Distance vs. Fitbit Blaze Distance
Treadmill Distance vs. Fitbit Blaze Distance

What you need to do is make sure that you select TREADMILL from the exercise options on your Fitbit.

This is really the only way to get your Fitbit to work on your treadmill and give you accurate activity data when you’re running on it.

Just know that there is still a slight chance that your Fitbit data won’t exactly match your treadmill data, but for most people this fixes it.

How Running Distance Is Measured With Fitbit vs Treadmill

Did you know that your Fitbit and your treadmill both measure your running distance using completely different tracking methods?

So, the way that the treadmill measures the distance that you run is based on the treadmill belt.

This means that the distance you see on the treadmill is hands down the most accurate one since it literally measures physical distance covered.

On the flip side, your Fitbit tracks treadmill running distance based on your stride and how your arm swings when you’re running.

So, the faster you run on the treadmill, the less accurate your Fitbit data because since your arm swings and stride are much different than when you’re walking (which is what the Fitbit uses as it’s guideline).

This also means that if you put your arms down on the treadmill handles for support, then that distance isn’t getting counted for you.

Makes it easy to see why that Fitbit treadmill data is so much lower than your treadmill, huh?

Essentially your speed on the treadmill needs to be no higher than 4.0 in order for the Fitbit to give you accurate data, at least for most people that’s the max speed.

guy running on treadmill

Can You Update The Fitbit Data After A Treadmill Workout?

So, if you’re using the TREADMILL setting from the list of exercises and still not getting data that matches your treadmill, you might be thinking about how you can update the Fitbit data.

Here’s the reality – you should just not use the Fitbit to track your treadmill runs and instead manually enter what’s on the treadmill once you’ve finished your workout.

It’s not the ideal solution, but it’s the best one out there.

Tips For Getting A Good Treadmill Workout

Now that we’ve got your Fitbit give you accurate data on your treadmill running workouts, let’s make sure that you’re doing everything you can to get the most from your workout.

These are general tips for beginners, but anyone who works out on a treadmill will benefit from these reminders.

guy on treadmill with headphones

1. Wear The Right Shoes

To avoid injury, make sure that you’re wearing proper running shoes (assuming you’re running and not just walking).

I’m a big fan of adidas womens running shoes because they have a wide toe box, but go with whatever brand you prefer.

Currently, I’m using a pair of adidas Response Super 3.0 Running Shoes, which have great support.

And don’t forget that running shoes wear out every four to six months, depending on how much you run each week, so replace your old ones regularly.

2. Don’t Immediately Start Running

You should always warm up at a fairly moderate pace instead of getting on there and immediately blasting off at full speed.

Most personal trainers agree that around 3mph is a good warm-up pace for you to start building momentum for a run.

You’ll also want to make sure that you do a bit of stretching before getting on the machine just to warm up your muscles a bit.

Doing these warm up stretches helps prevent injury to cold muscles.

3. Use Inclines In Moderation

You might be tempted to set a crazy high incline and run on it for the entire workout – don’t do this!

The steeper you set it, then the shorter the amount of time you should run on it.

It’s not normal for us to run on steep inclines for an incredibly long amount of time, and it can result in injury.

So, try around 5 minutes of time on the incline before lower it back down.

You can work up to a bit longer, but no one should be running for a half hour on a steep incline.

Final Word

As you can see, your Fitbit cannot be relied on for accurate data when you’re running on a treadmill.

But if you’re only walking on the treadmill for your exercise, then your Fitbit should record the same data as your treadmill (assuming that you’re walking a normal pace and no more than than a moderate pace of 4.0).

The reason your Fitbit data is inaccurate for treadmill running workouts is because it uses your stride to get it’s data, and your stride when running is different from when you’re walking.

Now you know to put more trust in your treadmill’s distance data on you runs than your Fitbit’s data!

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