Do Garmin Watches Have Accurate Step Counting? (We Checked)

A step counter is an excellent tool for reaching your fitness goals. Many people invest in high-quality and often costly fitness trackers and wearables to ensure that their activity is accurately recorded.

One of these devices is the Garmin Watch.

This article takes a look at the Garmin watch and its ability to accurately count steps.

Here’s Whether Garmin Watches Have Accurate Step Counting:

Garmin measures steps pretty accurately. There might be slight deviations that could affect the accuracy. The Garmin calculates your steps based on the motion of your arms swinging. Not moving your arms could distort results. Also, swinging your arms when you aren’t walking can lead to overcounting.

How Accurate Is the Step Counting on Garmin Watches?

Many Garmin watches are made to record repetitive walking movements as steps. Arm motion while walking is counted by the internal 3-axis watch’s accelerometer.

The accelerometer counts each full arm swing as two steps.

Certain activities might result in irregular arm movement and this can cause the watch to count too many steps.

These activities include, but are not restricted to:

  • Driving a car (usually from vibrations on a rough ride)
  • Having a shower
  • A restless sleep
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Dancing

On the contrary, there are also times when you don’t move your arm too much. This would cause fewer steps to be counted whilst walking.

Examples of this include the following:

  • Walking with a stroller or cart
  • Mowing the grass
  • Carrying a package or your child
  • Holding on to the safety bars of a treadmill whilst walking
  • Using hiking poles or sticks
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Holding a leash while walking your dog

Some Garmin users prefer to use a Foot Pod. This is a device that straps to your ankle.

But remember that a foot pod won’t affect the cumulative number of steps per day. In fact, it can improve distance and pace measurements, but only when measuring a timed activity.

Daily step totals are just counted using the internal watch 3-axis accelerometer which has an activity tracking function.

If you find that your watch is not recording any steps we have some troubleshooting tips for you.

Read here to find out more about Garmin’s accuracy on treadmills.

Here’s how to fix problematic step counting on Garmin watches:

Make sure activity tracking is switched on:

Ensure that Activity Tracking is activated on your Garmin. When switched off, steps won’t be recorded.

Ensure you have the latest software:

If Activity Tracking has been switched on but the watch isn’t recording your steps, you might need to upgrade your watch’s latest software.

Adujust your watch fit:

Using a watch properly can aid in step accuracy. A loose watch that doesn’t fit snugly will likely cause an inaccurate step count.

Restart the watch:

Restart the watch by switching it off and then switching it on again. For watches that don’t have that option to switch off, plug your device into a USB port with the charging cable. This is the same as restarting your watch.

Consider all the factors that could affect your step count when you are setting a step goal.

If you feel that you often do things that distort the results, as a Garmin wearer, I suggest that you increase or decrease your goal accordingly.

Can Garmin Watches Track Steps Without a Phone?

If you love going for walks without carrying your cell phone, you will be happy to know that you are able to track your step count on your Garmin Watch without a phone.

Remember your step count goes back to zero at the start of every day.

So if you want to physically record your progress, note this before the end of the day. Alternatively, log on to your Connect App. It usually keeps a record of your daily or monthly progress.

Just remember that you can get the most out of your Garmin watch by logging onto the Garmin Connect App on your phone. It is also a way of seeing all the features that your Garmin has.

Are Apple Watches or Garmin Watches More Accurate for Tracking Steps?

Apple Watches and Garmin watches both have a really good name. The answer to which watch is more accurate is dependent on the specific watch’s model.

That said, Activity Trackers seen in Fitbit and Garmin give you the option of fixing a specific stride length to calibrate the watch for enhanced accuracy. The Apple Watch can be calibrated too, but it doesn’t require as much effort.

Some stats indicate that an Apple watch produces the most accurate results after it has been calibrated.

What Smartwatches Have the Most Precise Step Tracking?

When you take the leap and buy a fitness tracker, you want to ensure that you make the best decision.

Here are 5 of the most accurate fitness trackers available on the market:

1. Fitbit Charge 5


  • It has a screen
  • The watch monitors your heart rate
  • It has a water resistance of 50m
  • It has a built-in activity tracker
  • It has GPS
  • The Battery can last for 7 days
  • Compatibility with Android/iOS

Please also read our article about common Fitbit charging problems.

2. The Garmin Vivoactive 4S


  • The screen is ‎1.1 Inches
  • It has a heart rate tracker
  • It has a 50m water resistance
  • It has an activity tracker
  • It has GPS
  • The battery life is about 7 days
  • It is compatible with Android/iOS

3. Honor Band 5


  • There is a screen
  • It records your heart rate
  • It has a 50m water resistance
  • It is able to track activities
  • There is a built-in GPS
  • It can last for up to 7 days between charges
  • It is compatible with Android

4. Fitbit Inspire 2


  • It has a screen
  • It has a 24×7 heart rate tracker
  • It boasts a water resistance of 50m
  • It tracks your activity resistance
  • It doesn’t have a built-in GPS
  • The battery lasts for up to 10 days
  • It is compatible with Android

5. Fitbit Luxe


  • It does have a screen
  • It has a 24×7 heart rate tracker
  • It has a 50m water resistance
  • It can track your activities
  • There isn’t a built-in GPS
  • The battery life is about 5 days
  • The watch is compatible with Android/IOS

When you are deciding which watch to get, make sure that it is compatible with your phone.

Also, check that it is able to track the fitness activities that you engage in. Not all smartwatches work for all people.

Do All Garmin Watches Track Your Steps?

All Garmin watches track steps.

This is great news for sports enthusiasts and fitness buffs. Having a step goal can help you stay on track with your fitness regime.

It also helps with your physical movement.

The watch on your hand can be just what you need to opt for the stairs instead of the elevator.

It is also a great idea to increase your step goal ever so often so that you can improve your fitness. It is also a common fact that the more you move, the more healthy you will be.

Keeping active, not only has physical benefits but it improves your mental well-being too.

People walking in offices can neglect physical activity but having a step goal can help you stay on track with your fitness.

Please also check out our article about Garmin watch charging problems – with solutions. 

Final Thoughts

Garmin watches have a great reputation in the fitness community. I have found my Garmin watch very trustworthy for accurate fitness records.

There are various factors that can affect the accuracy of your step counter.

It is important to keep those factors in mind when setting a step goal and you might need to adjust your step goal accordingly.


My Garmin Watch is Not Accurately Counting Steps

Was this article helpful? Like Dislike

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)