Wondering if you can wear your Fitbit on your ankle? After playing around with my device over the last few weeks, I started to ask the same question and it turns out that it's a popular one, with online forums filled with users' experiences of wearing the fitness trackers on different parts of the body.
I've been a Fitbit fan for the last few years, having upgraded to one of the newer models recently after wearing out my old device. I personally love the brand, both as someone who exercises regularly and as the digital health editor at woman&home. Generally, I think they're great trackers for keeping tabs on your workouts and new Premium in-app features have only leveled up the brand's offering in the last year.
However, I've never really considered whether the range of features would work when wearing the device somewhere other than the wrist. All the best Fitbits are made for wearing in this specific spot, so I was interested to see whether putting it on my ankle - another area close to a large artery - would work. Here's what I discovered, plus, the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.
Can I wear my Fitbit on my ankle?
Yes, technically you can wear your Fitbit on your ankle. Providing you can make the strap fit, nothing is stopping you from doing so and you might find that some of the metrics improve.
I wore my Fitbit Versa 4, the newest Fitbit in the range, on my ankle for a week to see what happened. While I couldn't wear it for 24 hours a day on my ankle as the strap was a little too tight, I did test it out for a couple of hours every day, during a few exercise sessions, and overnight to assess the difference between wearing the device on my wrist and my ankle.
Generally, it was pretty successful. The device picked up my heart rate and step count well in both spots and I didn't notice much difference between the two even when I tried the same walk on different days, wearing my Fitbit on ankle one day and the device on my wrist the next. Overall, I noticed that I picked up an average of 130 more steps on a 20-minute stroll when I wore the device on my ankle in comparison to when I wore it on my wrist.
There was a huge difference in the number of steps the device picked up on a stationary bike though. This isn't so much of a problem as step count likely won't be the main statistic you're monitoring during a spin class or bike ride, but it was surprising to see that I picked up 1,510 extra steps when wearing the Fitbit on my ankle for 30 minutes compared to when I wore it on my wrist, where I saw an increase of just 180 steps. If you're doing an exercise where your hands are still for most of it but your legs are moving, it may be better to wear the watch on your ankle.
There was only one real downside I saw, which was the complete absence of sleep tracking. When I wore the Fitbit on my ankle, the device didn't pick up any record of the hours I'd slept or the quality of my sleep. I did also experience some issues with it picking up my heart rate again when I moved the Fitbit off my ankle and back onto my wrist, which may have contributed to the calorie burn discrepancy between my first and second 30-minute bike workouts.
So will I be making this a permanent lifestyle change? Probably not. Most Fitbit types are designed to be worn around the wrist, so they're naturally more comfortable, better looking, and ultimately more effective when they're worn for their original purpose. The only exception to this is the Fitbit Inspire, for which you can buy a specially-designed silicone clip to wear the device on another part of your body.
The brand hasn't made an official statement on what's best, but they specify that a Fitbit is to be worn on the wrist, or in the clip. We have reached out to Fitbit for comment and will update this article when it's received.
Benefits of wearing a Fitbit on your ankle
1. Better step count
Everyone has different reasons for wearing a Fitbit and different health goals, from keeping track of progress when learning how to start running to getting better insights into a sleep schedule. But one of the main ones is improving step count, a feature that's been integral to the brand since they launched their very first watch.
Why is the step count better when you wear the device on your ankle? It's a good question. When you wear your watch on your wrist, you have to swing or move your arms in some way when you walk for the device to most accurately pick up that you're on the move. This isn't a problem for me and I've never noticed my step count be far away from what it should be - or what my Apple Health app suggests I've done - but if your primary goal is monitoring your steps then my experience shows having the watch on your ankle does pick up more steps.
2. Keep your wrists free
The Fitbit Luxe was designed with style specifically in mind and I wear my Fitbit Versa 4 most days, no matter the occasion since it's relatively sleek-looking and discreet. I can't say the same for Fitbits across the range. Some of them definitely look like fitness trackers, which I find isn't a problem in day-to-day life. But if you're out at a social occasion and you don't fancy flexing your step count to your family or friends, wearing your Fitbit on your ankle is a great way to keep your wrists free for a slightly more fashionable timekeeper.
Plus, one of the downsides of the traditional Infinity Fitbit straps is that they can leave a small rash on your wrist if they get wet and don't dry properly, or you wear it for weeks at a time without a break. The brand suggests avoiding both of these scenarios, but it's easy to forget when you're committed to tracking your metrics. Wearing my Fitbit on my ankle offered my skin a break from the strap for a couple of hours a day and during the sweatier workouts, while still tracking some important metrics like my heart rate and step count.
3. You can forget it's there
When I wore my Fitbit on my ankle, I just forgot it was there at all. Not only did this mean I couldn't aimlessly look at my stats for the day as a distraction, as I often do when I'm waiting in line for coffee or the bus in the morning, I think it gave me a more realistic idea of how much exercise I would do every week if I wasn't pushing myself based on what my Fitbit said.
Only met 75 minutes of my total 150 Active Zone Minute goal? If I had my watch buzzing on my wrist to tell me this, I'd probably head out on a run after work when perhaps I'd have been better off taking a break. When wearing a Fitbit on ankle, you're only likely to find this out when you take off your watch so you can see how high your workout motivation really is and keep more in tune with your body's needs rather than always listening to what the stats say.
Are there are downsides of wearing a Fitbit on your ankle?
There are a couple of general downsides to wearing your Fitbit on your ankle, aside from the fact that you'll lose many of the brand's essential health tracking metrics like Sleep Score, heart rate, and oxygen levels, and the company themselves don't actively recommend it.
Firstly, if you plan to wear the Fitbit on ankle, you'll need to invest in a new strap. The Infinity strap that came with my model wasn't really big enough to be worn for an extended period - but I was dedicated to the experiment. Unless you've got ankles of a similar size to your wrists, it's unlikely that your strap is going to fit comfortably around your ankle for longer than a few hours at a time.
Secondly, you won't be able to utilize another primary feature of the watch - checking the time and receiving notifications. As it's strapped to the inside of your ankle, you'll probably need to wear an alternative smartwatch on your wrist if you plan to be able to check the time or receive texts, calls, and calendar notifications. You'll still get these on your Fitbit if you wear it on your ankle but from my experience, it's very difficult to bring your foot close enough to your face when walking along to check these notifications - and it looks a bit odd too.
If you're committed to the idea of wearing a Fitbit somewhere other than your wrist and you're in the market for an upgrade anyway, I'd just opt for a new device. Try out the Fitbit Inspire 3 and buy the accompanying clip, as it's all Fitbit-approved (so you know it'll work) and you can attach the device to your waistband, belt, pocket, or bra, without having any contact with the skin.