Are Garmin Watches Accurate On Treadmills? (We Checked)

Garmin watches are the ultimate workout companion, whether you’re on the road, lifting weights, or simply stretching.

A question that many Garmin watch wearers have is whether their device is accurate on the treadmill.

I’ve done the research – let’s get into it.

Everything You Need To Know About Garmin Watch Accuracy On The Treadmill:

Step-tracking can be difficult on a treadmill. Users can adjust the sensitivity of step-tracking or manually input a distance into the treadmill calibration feature to get a more accurate reading. Some wearers have reported that wearing a foot pod is the best way to count steps on a treadmill.

How Accurately Do Garmin Watches Track Steps on Treadmills?

Garmin wearables use a number of sensors to track steps accurately.

The primary sensor for step tracking is an accelerometer which measures acceleration forces, and Garmin watches use this information to detect the motion of your wrist when you take a step.

When you move your wrist while walking or running, the accelerometer interprets these motions as steps.

Step-tracking accuracy on a treadmill can be trickier compared to outdoor walking or running. On a treadmill, your wrist remains relatively stable, and the motion is primarily in your legs. This can make it difficult for the accelerometer to detect each step accurately.

However, Garmin’s has improved accuracy in treadmill scenarios, such as:

Sensitivity Adjustment

Your Garmin watch allows you to adjust the sensitivity of the step tracking.

When you increase sensitivity, your watch becomes more responsive to even micro-wrist movements.

You can use the steps below to adjust the sensitivity of your Garmin watch:

  1. On your Garmin watch, open ‘Settings’
  2. Select ‘Accessibility’ and then select ‘Touch Sensitivity’
  3. Now you can select the option you want.

The Treadmill Calibration

Your Garmin watch can be calibrated to improve step-tracking accuracy on a treadmill.

The Garmin watches that offer the treadmill calibration feature will allow you to calibrate the watch’s Treadmill profile to your specific treadmill.

To see if your watch has this feature, refer to your manual.

How do you calibrate the treadmill distance?

Watches that offer this feature will have an option to ‘Save and Calibrate’ the distance after an activity. This option is available once your watch has clocked a distance of 1 mile or 1.5 kilometers.

After selecting ‘Save and Calibrate’ your Garmin watch allows you to enter the distance clocked by the treadmill. However, the calibration value input cannot be less than half or more than double the distance recorded on the watch.

Once completed, your Garmin watch will be calibrated to improve the distance accuracy for future runs at a similar pace. It’s worth noting that this feature will not correct or adjust any lap data that was recorded during the activity before calibrating.

Remember, the treadmill calibration feature will only calibrate the accelerometer for the treadmill activity profile.

To further improve the accuracy, follow these tips below: 

  • Record an outdoor run regularly using GPS to better calibrate the accelerometer for indoor run activities.
  • Try not to hold onto the railing when running on the treadmill. This results in improper distance measurements on the Garmin watch.

However, many Garmin owners have reported that even after adjusting these settings their step counter is still not accurate while on a treadmill. Some people have suggested that the only way they can get an accurate reading is by wearing a foot pod. 

You should also take a look at my article, Do Garmin Watches Have Accurate Step Counting? (We Checked)

Can Garmin Watches Track Steps on Treadmills Without a Phone?

Garmin watches, particularly those from the Forerunner and Fenix series, come equipped with advanced sensors that can detect your movement and steps even when you’re indoors on a treadmill.

You don’t need a phone for this feature to work.

Are Apple Watches or Garmin Watches More Accurate with Treadmills?

The Apple Watch and Treadmill Accuracy

When it comes to treadmill workouts, the Apple Watch relies on its accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to estimate your distance, pace, and calorie burn.

While these sensors are generally reliable for outdoor running, their accuracy on a treadmill is very shaky.

Treadmills provide a controlled environment where your pace and distance are set by the machine itself. However, the Apple Watch struggles at times to accurately give reliable measurements because it can’t rely on GPS indoors.

Instead, it assumes data based on your arm movement, which may not always align perfectly with the treadmill’s measurements.

In fact, many Apple Watch Ultra users have found themselves unimpressed with the inaccurate treadmill readings even after calibrating their trackers.

Garmin Watch and Treadmill Accuracy

Garmin is best known for its advanced GPS expertise and sports-focused watches, tailored to fitness enthusiasts. Garmin watches tend to provide more accurate data during outdoor activities.

However, on a treadmill, they also face some challenges. When indoors, Garmin watches switch to an accelerometer-based mode, similar to the Apple Watch.

This results in accurate tracking of distance and steps taken, but it may still struggle with precise pace measurements since it relies on wrist motion.

Both watches make assumptions about your stride length, which may not always match your actual stride. Some Garmin models allow for manual calibration, which can improve accuracy.

Apple Watch has a calibration process too, but it’s not as intuitive. In the battle of Apple Watch vs. Garmin Watch on treadmills, neither watch is perfect, and their treadmill accuracy varies.

While Garmin watches may have an edge in outdoor activities due to their GPS capabilities, they both rely on sensors that may struggle to match the precision of GPS when used indoors.

What Smartwatches Have the Most Precise Treadmill Tracking?

When it comes to precise treadmill tracking, several smartwatches excel in delivering relatively accurate data to help you monitor and improve your workouts.

Treadmill tracking is important to users who are unable to consistently do outdoor running.

We have compiled a few smartwatches to compare their efficacy in treadmill tracking:

Garmin Forerunner 245

  • Top choice for most athletes worldwide
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Has a built-in GPS and Accelerometer
  • Has a treadmill workout profile
  • It is compatible with the Garmin Foot Pod (a sensor that you put inside your shoe that gives 98% better accuracy for speed and distance)

Apple Watch Series 8

  • Comes with a superior combination of premium hardware and software
  • Very accurate with outdoor tracking
  • Has a treadmill workout profile
  • Allows you to calibrate it for more accurate readings with consistent usage

Suunto 9

  • A very popular high-end fitness tracker
  • Relies on Motion sensors for treadmill tracking; fairly accurate but there is always an error margin
  • Very accurate for outdoor tracking activities.

Fitbit Sense

  • Has a built-in GPS for outdoor activity tracking
  • Comes with a dedicated treadmill function; the watch uses its sensors to track treadmill sessions

Polar Vantage 2

  • A premium smartwatch for professional athletes
  • Comes in a lightweight aluminium shell and is water resistant
  • Accurate outdoor tracking but large margins of error with treadmill sessions

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5

  • Cool features like Sp02 and advanced sleep tracking
  • Has a dedicated treadmill function but has large margins of error

Do All Garmin Watches Work with Treadmills?

  • Most models in the Forerunner series are compatible with treadmill workouts.
  • The Garmin Fenix series watches also support treadmill workouts.
  • The Vivoactive series includes fitness-oriented watches that can be used on a treadmill.

Not all Garmin watches can effectively track workouts on a treadmill.

Final Thoughts

Garmin watches have certainly come a long way in improving their accuracy on the treadmill. With features like sensitivity adjustment and treadmill calibration, they provide more precise step tracking and distance measurements during indoor workouts.

While no smartwatch is perfect in this regard, Garmin’s expertise in outdoor activities, coupled with its accelerometer-based mode indoors, makes it a solid choice for fitness enthusiasts.

Will My Garmin Watch Work on a Treadmill? Discover The Truth

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