How to calibrate your Apple Watch for more accurate fitness tracking

BY Kelly Hodgkins

Published 20 May 2015


The Apple Watch is useful as an activity tracker, logging both your daily routine and your workout sessions. To improve the accuracy of your fitness tracking, you should calibrate the Watch, so it can accurately measure your calorie, distance and Move estimations. This calibration takes some time to complete, so be prepared to get outside and spend some time being active for the best results.

The calibration process requires you to use your iPhone and Watch simultaneously as you track a workout session of 20 minutes or more. For the most accurate measurements, you should perform this calibration process both when your are running and walking since you use different stride lengths for these two activities. Use the following directions to calibrate your Watch with unique your physical and exercise profile:

  1. Bring your iPhone and your Apple Watch to the workout session.
  2. Find a flat, open area outside that offers good GPS reception
  3. Turn on Location Services on your iPhone by opening the Settings app and selecting Privacy > Location Services.location-services
  4. Enable Motion Calibration & Distance on your iPhone by opening Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services. Select the Motion Calibration & Distance toggle to turn it on. motion-calibrate
  5. Wear your Watch on your wrist and attach your iPhone to your body using an armband or waistband. You also can hold your phone in your hand.
  6. Open the Workout app on your Apple Watch, and choose Outdoor Walk or Outdoor Run.
  7. Set your goal or select Open for a goal-free session.
  8. Tap Start to begin your workout.
  9. Walk or run for at least 20 minutes.
  10. If you run or walk at different paces, then repeat this process for each of those different speeds.

When you are finished, the Watch will store this calibration data locally and use it to calculate future Workout sessions. Because this calibration data is stored on the Watch and not backed up to your iPhone,  it will be deleted when you unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone.

This calibration process is not necessary for you to use the Workout or Activity apps; you can use those apps just fine without calibration. This process is recommended if you want the most accurate calorie, distance, Move, and Exercise estimations, especially if you are exercising indoors without the aid of GPS tracking. It’s also useful if you plan to use the Watch away from the iPhone for activity tracking. Have you calibrated your Watch? Was there a noticeable difference in your exercise estimations? Let us know in the comments.

If you want to learn more about the Apple Watch, you can view additional tutorials on our Apple Watch Tips and Tricks page and our Apple Watch Guide page. If you have an area you would like to see covered in this ongoing series of Watch tutorials or have discovered your own handy tips or tricks, please share them in the comments.

You may also like:

➤ How to use the Apple Watch to track your activity level

➤ How to use the Apple Watch to track a Workout session

➤ How to enable/disable Motion and Fitness Tracking on your iPhone