Anybody else get a good workout driving your car?

Michael CM1

macrumors 603
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
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I don't think my watch did this the first few days, but now it's convinced that I'm burning 90 calories driving my car for 50 minutes. No, I am not doing laps around Bristol. Tonight/early this morning (just past midnight) I went from my parents' house to mine, about a 45- or 50-minute drive. It's mostly open road with a few traffic signals. I had almost no calories burned when I left because it wasn't too long after midnight. I get home and 90 calories had been added to my red ring.

I don't see how this can be accurate. Sometimes it seemed to do OK, maybe adding two calories in a few minutes. But then on the really open highway at 70 mph, I swear it was adding a calorie or two per minute.

Someone please tell me this is just a software glitch and driving a car on cruise control is not considered about 1/6 of my daily total for burning calories. That would be sad.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,270
4,223
Atlanta
Drive in a straight line and don't turn or move your hand and it won't count. However you are moving you hand and the :apple:Watch detects that you are moving. It is not a glitch. It is simply the limitation of technology. People seem to think the :apple:Watch should be concisely aware of every movement you make and have a 100% understanding of what every movement means.

It only has an accelerometer and gyroscope to detect the world around you and what is going on.
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,759
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Jacksonville, Florida
I don't think my watch did this the first few days, but now it's convinced that I'm burning 90 calories driving my car for 50 minutes. No, I am not doing laps around Bristol. Tonight/early this morning (just past midnight) I went from my parents' house to mine, about a 45- or 50-minute drive. It's mostly open road with a few traffic signals. I had almost no calories burned when I left because it wasn't too long after midnight. I get home and 90 calories had been added to my red ring.

I don't see how this can be accurate. Sometimes it seemed to do OK, maybe adding two calories in a few minutes. But then on the really open highway at 70 mph, I swear it was adding a calorie or two per minute.

Someone please tell me this is just a software glitch and driving a car on cruise control is not considered about 1/6 of my daily total for burning calories. That would be sad.
Maintaining body temp, circulation and mental processes use calories, even while you sleep!

The Apple Watch is not that smart and will only do what us human programmed it to do. It is just meant to use as a guide;)
 
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Arran

macrumors 601
Mar 7, 2008
4,441
3,007
Atlanta, USA
Joking aside, I was wondering if maybe it was a bumpy road?

I sometimes find I'm driving on a road (or a long bridge - Severn crossing?) where the road surface is made of sections with joins (expansion gaps) between them. So the car goes: "bump-bump, bump, bump, bump-bump..." as you speed along.

Perhaps the watch interprets that as running, or something?
 

tdbrown75

macrumors member
Apr 28, 2015
73
56
Dallas, TX
I don't think my watch did this the first few days, but now it's convinced that I'm burning 90 calories driving my car for 50 minutes. No, I am not doing laps around Bristol. Tonight/early this morning (just past midnight) I went from my parents' house to mine, about a 45- or 50-minute drive. It's mostly open road with a few traffic signals. I had almost no calories burned when I left because it wasn't too long after midnight. I get home and 90 calories had been added to my red ring.

I don't see how this can be accurate. Sometimes it seemed to do OK, maybe adding two calories in a few minutes. But then on the really open highway at 70 mph, I swear it was adding a calorie or two per minute.

Someone please tell me this is just a software glitch and driving a car on cruise control is not considered about 1/6 of my daily total for burning calories. That would be sad.
Yes! I get a great workout driving. I love music and am usually "drumming" on the steering wheel on the way home. The Apple Watch thinks I am a movin' and a grovin' although I'm sitting on my rear end the whole time.

Tim
 

Michael CM1

macrumors 603
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
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The thread title was meant to be quite cheeky, but it's a real problem in terms of wanting an accurate calories burned count. Surely there is some line of code that says "if he's going 70 mph, he's probably in a car or bus and likely sitting on his arse. Maybe we shouldn't count that as burning calories so much."

I never had trouble with Fitbit or my iPhone counting steps in a vehicle. So this makes me wonder why this flaw exists. I also want to know if there's a way of combating it without taking the watch off while driving.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,270
4,223
Atlanta
..."if he's going 70 mph, he's probably in a car or bus and likely sitting on his arse. Maybe we shouldn't count that as burning calories so much."

I never had trouble with Fitbit or my iPhone counting steps in a vehicle. So this makes me wonder why this flaw exists. I also want to know if there's a way of combating it without taking the watch off while driving.
How is the :apple:Watch supposed to 'know' you are going 70MPH? Your car measures the rotation (RPM's) of the tires to determine relative ground speed. The :apple:Watch has no connection to your car to 'know' this. It only has an accelerometer and gyroscope and no 'cable' connecting to the tires. The only way the :apple:Watch could measure relative ground speed without measuring tire rotation would be to use full time GPS readings. This would quickly kill your iPhone and :apple:Watch batteries.

The :apple:Watch is not a human and can't see, hear, touch, feel, sense and completely comprehend every situation we are in and every movement we make.

Put your Fitbit on your wrist and it to will give step counts when driving because of accelerometer moment too.
 

Repelle

macrumors regular
Mar 8, 2015
127
29
Andover UK / SF CA
Sorry, I don't know why but the thread title has me in stitches.

I'm wondering if this is what is happening to me on the drive home from work. For some reason I'm registering a high level of exercise activity on days where I've been a lazy slob.
 

tdbrown75

macrumors member
Apr 28, 2015
73
56
Dallas, TX
Sorry, I don't know why but the thread title has me in stitches.

I'm wondering if this is what is happening to me on the drive home from work. For some reason I'm registering a high level of exercise activity on days where I've been a lazy slob.
Drumming on the steering wheel? ;-)
 

andrewstirling

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2015
383
154
Can't wait for apple to announce that this is intentional and that you will only get accurate activity tracking if you don't move your arms whilst driving.
 
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riverfreak

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2005
1,374
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Over the Reignbough
The thread title was meant to be quite cheeky, but it's a real problem in terms of wanting an accurate calories burned count. Surely there is some line of code that says "if he's going 70 mph, he's probably in a car or bus and likely sitting on his arse. Maybe we shouldn't count that as burning calories so much."

I never had trouble with Fitbit or my iPhone counting steps in a vehicle. So this makes me wonder why this flaw exists. I also want to know if there's a way of combating it without taking the watch off while driving.
This isn't limited to Apple Watch but all fitness trackers.

I was on a TPAC last week and my Fitbit said I managed to meet my 10k steps goal simply from the sustained vibration on the plane!

That said, I expect fitness tracking to get much, much better (with heuristics like you suggest) with many, many more people now using such devices.
 

ScottishDuck

macrumors 6502a
Feb 17, 2010
561
216
Argyll, Scotland
Burning calories doesn't require strenuous activity. Any period of sustained raised heart rate will burn calories. That said it could just be a glitch who knows.
 

Michael CM1

macrumors 603
Original poster
Feb 4, 2008
5,677
273
How is the :apple:Watch supposed to 'know' you are going 70MPH? Your car measures the rotation (RPM's) of the tires to determine relative ground speed. The :apple:Watch has no connection to your car to 'know' this. It only has an accelerometer and gyroscope and no 'cable' connecting to the tires. The only way the :apple:Watch could measure relative ground speed without measuring tire rotation would be to use full time GPS readings. This would quickly kill your iPhone and :apple:Watch batteries.

The :apple:Watch is not a human and can't see, hear, touch, feel, sense and completely comprehend every situation we are in and every movement we make.

Put your Fitbit on your wrist and it to will give step counts when driving because of accelerometer moment too.
I get that it might get some calories burned, just as I get when laying here typing. But it spikes way up when I'm driving. Maybe my heart rate does jump up when driving -- I know it does at certain times. But there has got to be a way for it to ping my iPhone and figure out "hey, he's either The Flash or in a car." The Magellan GPS app I used years ago had a speedometer that was just as accurate as my car's, so I know the data exists to peg my speed exactly.

If this is still beyond the realm of programmable fixing, there needs to at least be a "Hey Siri, I'm in a car" option to do something about this. Honestly this is a mostly minor thing, but surely with this much tech someone can figure out how to make the calories burned more accurate.
 

Lictor

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2008
383
21
If the heart rate sensor worked right the watch would know you're still at a resting heart rate.
Except that your HR can go up from other reasons than working out...
For instance, last Friday I was sitting in a conference room with no A/C and temperatures above 40° and this registered as exercice to the Watch, because HR will go up when it's that hot.
Likewise, if you're in your car, stuck in a traffic jam and going late, your HR will go up too...
Even getting up in the morning will increase your HR for a couple of minutes while your body is adjusting to standing...

That's why a wearable has a really hard time guessing what you're doing. It's a blind device with only a few inputs, there is a lot of guessing going on. In the future, wearable might have more inputs (blood pressure and low-power GPS would help a lot) and they will have to guess less...
 

Lictor

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2008
383
21
Burning calories doesn't require strenuous activity. Any period of sustained raised heart rate will burn calories. That said it could just be a glitch who knows.
Yes, exactly. Sitting at your desk while your boss is yelling at you will induce stress and stress wll raise your HR. Stress hormones will also pump up your metabolism, increase blood sugar... The whole experience will burn extra calories. Though it's not a very healthy way to burn them.
 

thefredelement

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2012
1,142
559
New York
Except that your HR can go up from other reasons than working out...
For instance, last Friday I was sitting in a conference room with no A/C and temperatures above 40° and this registered as exercice to the Watch, because HR will go up when it's that hot.
Likewise, if you're in your car, stuck in a traffic jam and going late, your HR will go up too...
Even getting up in the morning will increase your HR for a couple of minutes while your body is adjusting to standing...

That's why a wearable has a really hard time guessing what you're doing. It's a blind device with only a few inputs, there is a lot of guessing going on. In the future, wearable might have more inputs (blood pressure and low-power GPS would help a lot) and they will have to guess less...
If the HRM worked differently or correctly it would be able to tell, heart rates go up and down all day long but exercise is a sustained increase in heart rate above a person's resting heart rate.

So it would need to keep track of your heart rate throughout the day, which it does.

It would then need to create an average resting heart rate for it's wearer, that's simple math.

It would then need to count heart rates above this average zone as exercise, still simple math.

Problem solved.

To be more accurate it can measure against heart rate data taken during an active workout session.

I just don't see why a device with a heart rate sensor backed by an iPhone is having so much trouble getting this correct. If the Watch is "thinking" that it's wearer is exercising based on movement but their heart rate is still resting than it is not really exercise, even if it's "exercise" in real life.
 

Lictor

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2008
383
21
The problem is that the resting HR that your doctor takes is lying down and having having done nothing for 5 minutes (well, if he takes the time to do it properly). Just standing up or moving or even sitting will raise your HR and this isn't your resting rate anymore. So the Apple Watch has difficulties getting the resting HR.

Moreover, mouvement and HR do not discriminate enough. For instance, take the bus in rush hour in summer. You will be standing up, with people pushing you around, you have to grasp the bar to keep from falling and your body will be working hard to keep your temperature down. So, you're shaking, moving at around 20-25km/h and with your HR going up from standing up, grasping, stress... You will get a similar configuration from biking for instance, your HR won't get that high if you're on a flat road or if you have an assisted bike - yet, you're exercising.

Likewise, I have white coat syndrome. If I go to the doctor, I will have around 140-150bpm HR the whole consultation (and very high BP too). It's very hard for my watch to make the distinction between a visit to the doctor and a workout session... And white coat syndrome is pretty common. And similar high HR event can happen at other stressful situations.

Moreover if you're stressed, exercising will usually lower your HR at the beginning. For instance, when I did a stress ECG, my HR actually went down during the first 10 minutes as I started relaxing, it only went back up after the doctor pushed the resistance up to get me out of the cardio zone...

Add to that that the wrist is not a very reliable location to take HR...
 

thefredelement

macrumors 65816
Apr 10, 2012
1,142
559
New York
The problem is that the resting HR that your doctor takes is lying down and having having done nothing for 5 minutes (well, if he takes the time to do it properly). Just standing up or moving or even sitting will raise your HR and this isn't your resting rate anymore. So the Apple Watch has difficulties getting the resting HR.

Moreover, mouvement and HR do not discriminate enough. For instance, take the bus in rush hour in summer. You will be standing up, with people pushing you around, you have to grasp the bar to keep from falling and your body will be working hard to keep your temperature down. So, you're shaking, moving at around 20-25km/h and with your HR going up from standing up, grasping, stress... You will get a similar configuration from biking for instance, your HR won't get that high if you're on a flat road or if you have an assisted bike - yet, you're exercising.

Likewise, I have white coat syndrome. If I go to the doctor, I will have around 140-150bpm HR the whole consultation (and very high BP too). It's very hard for my watch to make the distinction between a visit to the doctor and a workout session... And white coat syndrome is pretty common. And similar high HR event can happen at other stressful situations.

Moreover if you're stressed, exercising will usually lower your HR at the beginning. For instance, when I did a stress ECG, my HR actually went down during the first 10 minutes as I started relaxing, it only went back up after the doctor pushed the resistance up to get me out of the cardio zone...

Add to that that the wrist is not a very reliable location to take HR...
Anything that's raising your heart rate past a resting heart rate uses calories. There's way too much tech connected to the watch for it to not know you're traveling down the road at 70mph with maybe a slightly elevated heart rate but def. not a "workout" one. This stuff is simple.
 
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