How does the Step Tracking feature work?

How does the Step tracking feature work?

In our iOS apps, users have the option to track your steps using the M7 motion-detecting chip (if you have an iPhone 5s or above), or by leveraging data from several of our activity tracking integration partners. Here’s what to expect:

Activating Step Tracking

To turn on (or turn off) the Step Tracking feature:

  • In the app's "More" page, tap "Settings" then "Steps."
  • If you are already linked to an Activity Tracker that's compatible with MyFitnessPal Step Tracking, tap that item in the list of options.
  • If you have an iPhone 5s or above device and wish to use the built in motion detection of your phone to track steps, tap the "iPhone" option. Note that if you are currently linked with an activity tracker that creates Calorie Adjustments in your diary, selecting "iPhone" will replace your tracker's adjustment with one calculated from the iPhone's motion data. Because Apple's M7 chip tracks physical activity in the background, step data already captured for the current day will be displayed in MyFitnessPal when you activate the iPhone 5s option.
  • If you do not have a step tracking device, tap "Add a device" to browse compatible devices for purchase.
  • To turn off Step Tracking, tap "Don't track steps"
​What happens once I've turned on Step Tracking?

Steps Progress
  • Users with Step Tracking activated will see a progress bar on the Home screen of the app that fills in toward the day's step goal each time the app updates.
  • If you are tracking steps with the iPhone option selected, you can change your daily step goal in More > Settings > Steps. For other activity trackers, the goal you set in your device's app or website will sync to the MyFitnessPal app.
  • On the "Progress" page of the app, you can view the history of your recorded steps to chart your efforts.
Calorie Adjustment
  • Users of our many all-day activity tracker partners will be familiar with the idea of the Calorie Adjustment. (More information is available in this article). Users who opt in to the "iPhone" step tracking option will also begin to receive a Calorie Adjustment in their Exercise Diary.
  • We use the motion data from your choice of Tracker to determine whether you are more or less physically active on a given day than is suggested by your MyFitnessPal profile's activity level (Sedentary, Lightly Active, etc).
  • We then make an adjustment to your daily calorie goal by creating an exercise entry that updates over the course of the day, based on your actual activity level. This keeps you within your Food goal without needing to log individual exercises for every period of physical activity.
What if I do log a separate exercise to my diary?

We recommend that you manually log to MyFitnessPal any exercise that your step-based tracker's system will have trouble detecting accurately, such as rowing, cycling, and of course activities like swimming during which you cannot wear the device. We will compensate for the exercise and update your Calorie Adjustment to reflect the manually logged calories.


If you select "iPhone" tracking, the MyFitnessPal app needs your permission to access the data from the M7 Motion chip in your phone. If you initially denied permission to the app, you can change the permission by opening your phone's Settings app, then tapping "Privacy" then "Motion & Fitness" and toggling the MyFitnessPal app to "On."

Additionally, Apple has optimized the M7 to report steps based on a variety of detected data. According to Apple, you will get the most accurate results if your phone is in your pocket or in an armband. The impact of your steps but also the swinging of your arm or leg help trigger the step counting. If your phone is in a backpack, your steps will be inaccurately logged.


Last Updated: Apr 16, 2019 04:47PM PDT

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