Fitbit/Garmin Showdown

March 17, 2016

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone about how many steps they had – we both wear activity trackers, but different kinds.  That discussion left me thinking about if there really is a big difference between all the different brands – as far as steps go?  And then I started thinking about the hand full of people I know that wear their trackers on their ankle versus their wrist. Some people can’t wear things on their wrists because of their jobs….but is there that big of a difference?  Does it track the same amount of steps?

First, let me get this out of the way –  last summer my husband and I converted from our Jawbone to our Garmin Vivofits.  You can read why we chose to do that in my post here.  I am a Garmin girl and really love our choice.

But between Garmin and Fitbit does it really matter? Anytime someone starts talking up their Fitbit to me, I kinda feel like we are having a iPhone/Android conversion…and let me end that with….we all just like what we like and I really don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer!

But wouldn’t it be pretty interesting to see how they compared by the end of the day when worn by the same person? Have you ever wondered this? So a few weeks ago I borrowed a Fitbit from a friend to see for myself.

This day was known around my house as the:

Fitbit/Garmin Showdown!


On the Saturday morning that I picked for my “showdown” I had a 5 mile treadmill run planned. Off I went: one Fitbit and one Garmin Vivofit on my wrist and one Vivofit on my ankle. (I felt the only true way to compared the ankle/versus wrist activity was to wear the same brand of bands in both places.) I borrowed my husbands band for my ankle, and GEEZ! this just made me feel like I have fat ankles, because even thought he even has a larger band than me, the first thing I noticed was how how tight it was and how much I really didn’t like the feeling of wearing this! It was tight and uncomfortable. I felt like I was on house arrest the whole day and it really bothered me!

I could never be a scientist, because it wasn’t even noon yet and I had already made my first mistake in my experiment: I didn’t take a picture after my run, but I was super surprised to find out that the watch on my ankle was way behind on steps.  I thought the opposite would have happened, that it would pick up more steps.  But there was roughly a difference of about 700 steps!  That really surprised me.

before grocery shopping

Next up: Grocery shopping.  This one has always had me wonder.  And I can’t be the only person out there that tries to push the cart with one hand so I can swing my arm and “get my steps” with my arm that I wear my tracker on!  Please tell me you do that too!?

I snapped the above picture before heading into the store.

Fitbit: 10210 steps
Garmin Vivofit: 10569 steps
Vivofit Ankle: 9871

And then after grocery shopping…

after grocery shopping

Fitbit: 10551 steps
Garmin Vivofit: 10885 steps
Vivofit Ankle: 11105 steps

WHOA Nelly!  Look at that difference!  The ankle tracker jumped up quite a few steps, just like I had expected.

So, I suppose it’s true – if you want all your steps while out shopping strap that activity tracker on your ankle.  The Garmin on my ankle showed that I walked 1,234 steps while out shopping, versus the both trackers on my wrist only counted around 300.

But here is where things get interesting….I went about the rest of my day.  I played with the kids, we did our normal Saturday afternoon activities – basketball games, dinner, etc.  And at 9 pm I decided I would take a picture of the watches and be done with my little experiment.

Look at where my numbers all ended up:



Ending the day with:

Fitbit: 13342
Garmin Vivofit: 13948
Vivofit Ankle: 13246

The biggest difference was between the two Garmins worn on my ankle and wrist.  Even with all those “extra” steps I got while shopping, the Garmin worn on my ankle still ended the day with the least amount of steps.  So interesting!  This is not what I expected to find!  As far as FitBit versus Garmin, I really didn’t see that major of a difference all day long.  A few hundred steps here and there.  But nothing that I would stress about.

I did like that the Fitbit buzzed at me when I met my goal, or the goal of my friend in my case 😉  I wish my Garmin would do a little something like that.  But I do really love that my Garmin has the lines that will turn red when I am inactive for too long.  Although I have to admit, I kinda wish on my long run days those red lines would go away all together..seriously, if I pound out 10 miles, I don’t need a tracker telling me to get up and move the rest of the afternoon!

I think if I were really neurotic about my steps I could change my Garmin to my ankle every time I got shopping.  But I’m not THAT concerned about those steps, and in all honesty, wearing the band on my ankle really drove me crazy! I would also say if you wear a tracker on your ankle, take it off and wear it on your wrist when you run…I would love to see if anyone else has results similar to mine!  I think I’ll stick to my wrist…and I still love my Garmin.  I love that I never have to take it off – I wear it in the shower, I never have to charge the battery.  I don’t think I’ll convert to a Fitbit anytime soon – but that’s because I’m a Garmin girl to begin with.  And after my little experiment I’m pretty happy to conclude that they are very close to counting the same thing!


Do you wear an activity tracker?  What kind do you prefer?

Have you ever worn different types or wondered about the steps you get?


Leave me a comment and let me know if you have ever tried anything like this!

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