Exercise Ring Is Not Working, Fix

This article explains what you can do to fix when the Exercise ring of the Activity app on your Apple Watch is not working as expected. Some users have stated that sometimes they do not earn exercise credit when they should. For example, some user has said that the exercise ring does not update or show your activity accurately. If you are having this problem too, then this article is for you.

The Activity App has three rings: Red, Green, and Blue.

Activity App

  • The Red is the Move ring that tells you how many calories you have burned.
  • The Green is the Exercise ring that shows how many minutes of exercise activity you have completed.
  • And the Blue is the Stand ring that indicates how often you have stood up and moved for at least one minute per hour.

If you are having issues with the Activity app, see this article.

As stated above, one of the rings is Exercise. You should be able to close your Exercise ring by completing at least 30 minutes of ‘activity’. According to Apple, this activity should equal or exceed the intensity of a ‘brisk walk’. The definition of the brisk walk may different from one person to another. We explain this more about this below.

Exercise ring not working?

Make sure to check after each step to see if the Exercise ring starts working.

First, let us try to define what exercise means from your Watch’s point of view. Not all workouts may be treated as exercise. Your Apple Watch only gives you exercise credits when your heart rate goes above a certain threshold to be considered vigorous. This threshold depends on your personal information (your height, weight, gender, and age, etc.). Only after this, your Apple Watch begins to count it as exercise.  Otherwise, your watch may count this as Move. Your Apple Watch has various sensors. For better readings, please make sure that your settings are correct:

  • Your personal information on your watch is accurate. You can check this:
    • On your iPhone, open the Watch app, then tap My Watch, scroll down and tap Health and then tap Health Profile.  Is everything correct? If not, tap the Edit button to make changes.Health Profile Apple Watch
  • For accurate heart rate readings, your Apple Watch needs skin contact. When you are wearing your watch, make sure that it is not too tight, not too loose. Make sure that your watch fits just right.
  • Make sure that you wear your watch on the top of your wrist.
  • Make sure that your watch and your arm is clean and dry.
  • Make sure that Power Saving Mode is off during your exercise. You can check this by going to Settings > Workout on your watch. You can extend your watch’s battery life.
  • Make sure that Heart Rate is enabled in Privacy. You can check this if it is on by opening the Watch app on your iPhone. Then tap My Watch and Privacy. Heart Rate
  • Make sure that Wrist Detection is enabled. This can be enabled by going to My Watch > Passcode on your iPhone.
  • There are different Workout types. If you are using the Workout app on your watch, please ensure that you select the right the Workout type. such as indoor running, outdoor running, etc.
  • On your iPhone, make sure that Location Services is turned on. You can turn this on by going to Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  • On your iPhone, ensure that Motion Calibration & Distance is enabled. You can turn this on by going to Settings > Privacy > System Services and turn on Motion Calibration & Distance.

You checked all settings and everything is correct but still, the Exercise Ring is not working? Then please check the following:

  • You may want to reset your calibration data. Here is how you can do this:
    • On your iPhone, open the Watch app.
    • Tap My Watch.
    • Then Privacy > Reset Fitness Calibration Data.Reset Fitness Calibration Data
  • Restart your watch. You can restart your device by pressing and holding the side button until the Power Off slider appears. Then drag the slider. Wait one minute. Then turn your watch back on by pressing and holding the side button until the Apple logo appears.  See this article If you are unable to turn on your watch.
  • Restart your iPhone.
  • Make sure that both your watch and your iPhone is running the latest version of OS. If not, update your device. Make sure that you update your iPhone first then you update your watch. Here is how you can check and update:
    • To update your watch: Tap Settings > General > Software Update. You can also update your watch using your iPhone by going to General > Software Update in the Apple Watch app. See this article, if you are unable to update your watch.
    • To update your iPhone: Tap Settings > General > Software Update.

If you are still having this problem, you may be having a hardware related problem. For example, it is possible that your watch sensors may not be working properly. Contact Apple support. Your watch may be still under warranty.

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University.

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27 thoughts on “Exercise Ring Is Not Working, Fix”

  1. We went on a really brisk walk for over an hour yesterday and it only recorded 36 min on my watch and 27 on my partner’s watch. Our heart rate was up and measured The whole time. Two days it didn’t record any of my exercises and it was strength training.

  2. My watch was working as expected since Jan 2020. Then, all of a sudden starting during last week of Nov 2020 I’ve been running into this very same issue. It happens on some days, but not all the time. Sometimes I don’t see immediate real-time result for my exercise ring, and then it gets updated next day. Go figure?.. 🙁

  3. I have this same issue and it’s weird because if i put exercise like yoga or play and do nothing and it records it! So frustrating

  4. It worked great for about 2 months. For the last year, some days it works, some days it doesn’t. I have re-calibrated several times. Tried every fix I could find online. It’s very disappointing. I wish I could change the ring to steps or something else it will actually measure. It is obviously a huge issue that apple should fix. (I may go back to a fit bit)

  5. Same issue, Apple Watch 5 logs the activity fine but adds only a few mins to the green activity ring. Really frustrating. Anyone know if there is an active thread to report to Apple?

  6. I’m having the same frustrating issues with my exercise ring closing, as everyone else. All of my settings are correct and updated but my exercise ring doesn’t move. I rode my bike for an hour but my ring on my watch didn’t move but the activity recorded the entire hour. Super confusing and frustrating to not “hit” your goal when you actually are. Especially on such an expensive & sophisticated product line Apple 🙁

  7. Same problem not being able to close yellow ring. Been working great for the past year. What happened suddenly? Must be a system bug.

  8. Having the same issue. I’ve had my Apple Watch 4 for a year, and never had a problem until now.I ran hard today, with a heart rate well over 145 for 42 min., to see if I could get it to register. It only registered 24 minutes. Yesterday I gave up after running for 25min.with only 10 minutes showing. I came in ,sat down and it jumped to 22min . No such luck today. I’m very frustrated. I did the reset. Nothing works. Thinking about going back to my fitbit if this doesn’t resolve. 🙁

    • I’m also thinking of going back to FitBit. It’s definitely a software issue so hopefully Apple knows and is working on repair.

      It logs the workouts it just doesn’t translate to overall daily data. That’s 100% software.


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