Apple Watch VS Octane Elliptical

python0704

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Original poster
Apr 8, 2015
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I just finished a workout on Octane Elliptical machine. But the calories from Octane is only 285 while my Watch series 2 shows 434. Factoring the small time difference I took the picture or Octane and screen shoot of iPhone, the 100 calories difference is still a surprise. Can anyone point out whose data is more reliable? IMG_2236.JPG IMG_2237.PNG
 

exxxviii

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May 20, 2015
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For this one, I would trust the elliptical all the way! Here's why...

First, I have found internal errors with Apple's calorie calculations and discrepancies between Apple's calculations and other external exercise machines and fitness devices. Furthermore, others have found discrepancies, similar to yours, between Apple and elliptical machines. In general, I do not trust the AW calorie calculations if I have another source.

Second, the AW has you at 12 calories/minute at an average HR of 149. That is a pretty stout HR, but 12 cal/minute is a seriously intense workout. The elliptical has you at about 7 calories/minute, which is in line with what most people are likely to do.

Things to check that could make one more accurate than the other:
  • That they both have your accurate bio-metric data (age, weight, height, sex, etc.)
  • That the elliptical had your HR throughout the workout
 
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python0704

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2015
156
45
For this one, I would trust the elliptical all the way! Here's why...

First, I have found internal errors with Apple's calorie calculations and discrepancies between Apple's calculations and other external exercise machines and fitness devices. Furthermore, others have found discrepancies, similar to yours, between Apple and elliptical machines. In general, I do not trust the AW calorie calculations if I have another source.

Second, the AW has you at 12 calories/minute at an average HR of 149. That is a pretty stout HR, but 12 cal/minute is a seriously intense workout. The elliptical has you at about 7 calories/minute, which is in line with what most people are likely to do.

Things to check that could make one more accurate than the other:
  • That they both have your accurate bio-metric data (age, weight, height, sex, etc.)
  • That the elliptical had your HR throughout the workout
Thanks. Although elliptical only asked for my age and weight, I did make sure it has my HR all the time. So I would trust the elliptical data over apple watch. Just a little disappointed as I thought apple watch could be my main fitness tracking source.
 

exxxviii

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2015
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Thanks. Although elliptical only asked for my age and weight, I did make sure it has my HR all the time. So I would trust the elliptical data over apple watch. Just a little disappointed as I thought apple watch could be my main fitness tracking source.
So... I may retract some of my earlier confidence...

Out of curiosity, I googled posts about calorie burn on an elliptical machine, and a number of them reference the same Harvard Medical School study for burn rate. Although those references do not not really factor an intensity level, it seems like you can push beyond 10 calories/minute, especially as you get over 180 lbs.

So, the truth is probably somewhere in between. The elliptical would need your age, weight, and sex at a minimum to come up with a pretty good BMR. Without sex, it could have underestimated your burn. On the flip side, 500 calories in 40 minutes is an intense workout.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
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Atlanta
.....it seems like you can push beyond 10 calories/minute, especially as you get over 180 lbs.....
Elliptical has the caloric burning advantage of engaging the muscles of the arms and upper body too. I find the elliptical a close 2ed to running and for more effective than any other cardio machine. And I'm stuck doing cardio machines (and biking) since I'm nursing plantar fasciitis.:(
 

Mike84

macrumors 6502a
Jun 23, 2010
813
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I am very much interested in this topic because I wonder about accuracy all the time. When I first saw your post, I was expecting the elliptical to overestimate calorie expenditure while the AW was going to underestimate. It seems that the opposite occurred. In any event, do you know what your heart rate was on the elliptical? I only see calories burned, but did it provide you with an average like the AW2? It would be interesting to see that.

I want to believe that the AW2 is more accurate than the elliptical because it is monitoring your heart rate the entire time. I have read, however, that the heart rate on these machines, while not perfect, have gotten really good and are usually only a few beats off a chest strap.
 

python0704

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2015
156
45
I am very much interested in this topic because I wonder about accuracy all the time. When I first saw your post, I was expecting the elliptical to overestimate calorie expenditure while the AW was going to underestimate. It seems that the opposite occurred. In any event, do you know what your heart rate was on the elliptical? I only see calories burned, but did it provide you with an average like the AW2? It would be interesting to see that.

I want to believe that the AW2 is more accurate than the elliptical because it is monitoring your heart rate the entire time. I have read, however, that the heart rate on these machines, while not perfect, have gotten really good and are usually only a few beats off a chest strap.
The elliptical machine let me set a target HR which I set as 155 so the average shouldn't off much. Plus I checked the HR against Apple Watch at the beginning for a few times and they were just off by a few BPM. I used to assume elliptical would give higher result because it make my arms tired. But the result really surprise me.
 

BlueMoon63

macrumors 68020
Mar 30, 2015
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Thanks. Although elliptical only asked for my age and weight, I did make sure it has my HR all the time. So I would trust the elliptical data over apple watch. Just a little disappointed as I thought apple watch could be my main fitness tracking source.
I can't trust the elliptical without you entering your age, sex, height and weight. Though everyone here offered much better advice, you could be a 25 yo 5 foot woman weighing 180 pounds and that will be nowhere near a 25 yo 6 foot male weighing 180 pounds. Just saying. It would be too difficult to know your 150bpm as a healthy rate or drastically overweight person without all the stats.

Not defending the Apple Watch in your example but it knows way more about who you are and your stats than the elliptical which only knew your age and weight.

Plus, if you are out of shape, the calorie burn could be realistic and expected versus someone the same size, weight, age, height but very fit.
 

python0704

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2015
156
45
I can't trust the elliptical without you entering your age, sex, height and weight. Though everyone here offered much better advice, you could be a 25 yo 5 foot woman weighing 180 pounds and that will be nowhere near a 25 yo 6 foot male weighing 180 pounds. Just saying. It would be too difficult to know your 150bpm as a healthy rate or drastically overweight person without all the stats.

Not defending the Apple Watch in your example but it knows way more about who you are and your stats than the elliptical which only knew your age and weight.

Plus, if you are out of shape, the calorie burn could be realistic and expected versus someone the same size, weight, age, height but very fit.
Now I think both have their limitations. Apple Watch cannot know how the elliptical intensity varies while elliptical don't ask my sex and height to estimate calories.
 

BlueMoon63

macrumors 68020
Mar 30, 2015
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Now I think both have their limitations. Apple Watch cannot know how the elliptical intensity varies while elliptical don't ask my sex and height to estimate calories.
Very true and you have two of the smartest people here responding (not me). However, the Apple Watch knows something about intensity change due to your heart rate dramatically increasing but I do get your point.

If you are serious athlete, listen to the two smart guys here. If you are like me and a weekend warrior who runs just to stay healthy and have an elliptical and treadmill at home but prefer weights for serious, the Apple Watch is great and I don't waste Monty on another device that doesn't look good with a suit or handle almost all other things the Apple Watch can do.

I have higher end treadmill and elliptical and neither ask me for stats so I have to think the Apple Watch is better because my daughter and I can run the same thing and get the same results and she is 5'5 120 and I am 6'4 215.

I like to look at it this way without stats. A professional athlete can have my size and build but be far superior to me in all aspects. We should not have the same stats for 45 minute workout even if we run the same speed and distance. They would have to let the heart rate go to max to even come close to me and my calorie burn in the same time. That's why it is important to know all stats and heart rate if you want accuracy.
 

python0704

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 8, 2015
156
45
So... I may retract some of my earlier confidence...

Out of curiosity, I googled posts about calorie burn on an elliptical machine, and a number of them reference the same Harvard Medical School study for burn rate. Although those references do not not really factor an intensity level, it seems like you can push beyond 10 calories/minute, especially as you get over 180 lbs.

So, the truth is probably somewhere in between. The elliptical would need your age, weight, and sex at a minimum to come up with a pretty good BMR. Without sex, it could have underestimated your burn. On the flip side, 500 calories in 40 minutes is an intense workout.
Very true and you have two of the smartest people here responding (not me). However, the Apple Watch knows something about intensity change due to your heart rate dramatically increasing but I do get your point.

If you are serious athlete, listen to the two smart guys here. If you are like me and a weekend warrior who runs just to stay healthy and have an elliptical and treadmill at home but prefer weights for serious, the Apple Watch is great and I don't waste Monty on another device that doesn't look good with a suit or handle almost all other things the Apple Watch can do.

I have higher end treadmill and elliptical and neither ask me for stats so I have to think the Apple Watch is better because my daughter and I can run the same thing and get the same results and she is 5'5 120 and I am 6'4 215.

I like to look at it this way without stats. A professional athlete can have my size and build but be far superior to me in all aspects. We should not have the same stats for 45 minute workout even if we run the same speed and distance. They would have to let the heart rate go to max to even come close to me and my calorie burn in the same time. That's why it is important to know all stats and heart rate if you want accuracy.
Thanks for all your replies. I'm a beginner in fitness world and just wanna get fit. I think Apple Watch may serve well my primary fitness tracker. I have made peace with it not being most accurate as long as it can motivate me to keep exercising. At least I can also refer to elliptical machine for better sense in calories. And the added features of the watch are a big advantage over other fitness tracker, too.
 
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Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
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Atlanta
Was scheduled to ride this morning but wimped out. So just for kicks I did 1:20 of cardio at LA Fitness in 4-20 minute sessions. Used a Garmin 620 and S0 :apple:Watch and here is the results:

  1. Stair Stepper - Matrix - level 10 - Rolling Hills (2 hills)
  2. Elliptical - LifeFitness - level 10 - Random
  3. Stair Climber - Matrix - level 10 - Rolling Hills (2 hills)
  4. Stationary Bike - LifeFitness - level 10 - Random





Garmin info:


 
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ManicMarc

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2012
454
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I would trust the watch, as it knows your age, height, weight and importantly - your heart rate during the workout.
 
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ManicMarc

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2012
454
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I would trust the watch, as it knows your age, height, weight and importantly - your heart rate during the workout.
What's interesting is I went for a run for roughly the same amount of time and had a higher average heart rate but reportedly burned fewer calories - I'm sure there's an interesting reason for that.



 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,282
4,265
Atlanta
What's interesting is I went for a run for roughly the same amount of time and had a higher average heart rate but reportedly burned fewer calories - I'm sure there's an interesting reason for that.....
It looks like your running HR average is WAY too high. In order to have an average of 175BPM at a 8:30 per mile pace you would have to be VERY young (probably under 20) and a VERY inefficient runner. Or have a medical condition.

37:20 and 24:34 are no where near “roughly the same amount of time”. The run was over 40% longer in time.

On the run the :apple:Watch recored a caloric burn rate of about 10.5kcal per minute and the Elliptical at about 8.3kcal per minute. These numbers sound plausible.

Again your average HR reading looks to be WAY off (high) on your run.
 

ManicMarc

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2012
454
119
It looks like your running HR average is WAY too high. In order to have an average of 175BPM at a 8:30 per mile pace you would have to be VERY young (probably under 20) and a VERY inefficient runner. Or have a medical condition.

37:20 and 24:34 are no where near “roughly the same amount of time”. The run was over 40% longer in time.

On the run the :apple:Watch recored a caloric burn rate of about 10.5kcal per minute and the Elliptical at about 8.3kcal per minute. These numbers sound plausible.

Again your average HR reading looks to be WAY off (high) on your run.
Interesting - by the way my comparison was the the OP's 40 minute elliptical.
I'm 31 and I'm usually pushing myself to get the best time - so perhaps this could explain my heart rate? I've had a glance back at other runs and it seems to always be around 168-174.
I might invest in an external monitor to see if it's an accuracy thing, or try and measure it manually (that's not easy though as you need to stop - which will lower the rate!)
 
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Newtons Apple

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Mar 12, 2014
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Jacksonville, Florida
Thanks. Although elliptical only asked for my age and weight, I did make sure it has my HR all the time. So I would trust the elliptical data over apple watch. Just a little disappointed as I thought apple watch could be my main fitness tracking source.
You AW can at best only guess at the calories. Both work off of different software and will never agree with each other. I think people are expecting more than what the watch can do.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,282
4,265
Atlanta
Interesting - by the way my comparison was the the OP's 40 minute elliptical.
I'm 31 and I'm usually pushing myself to get the best time - so perhaps this could explain my heart rate? I've had a glance back at other runs and it seems to always be around 168-174.
I might invest in an external monitor to see if it's an accuracy thing, or try and measure it manually (that's not easy though as you need to stop - which will lower the rate!)
Just a couple of back of the envelope generalization calculations.

31 would give you about a MHR of about 190bpm. In general in running once you pass about 80% of your MHR you start moving into anaerobic territory. Even in a highly conditioned athlete above 90% to 95% of MHR is painful (lactic acid build up) and can only be tolerated for a reasonably short amount of time (think sprinting).

Unless you are pushing yourself really hard (usually only in a race) and tolerating a lot of discomfort your average HR should likely be well south of 170bpm/90% (and probably closer to 150/160bpm range) on even your hardest runs.

The :apple:Watch can struggle to maintain accurate HR reading when running and must be worn 'exactly' right to give accurate results. If serious about running you should be using a more comprehensive watch with chest strap (like Garmin). I use my :apple:Watch as my overall fitness monitor but add my Garmin 620 when running.
[doublepost=1477829704][/doublepost]
Very true and you have two of the smartest people here responding (not me).....
Just noticed this post and take issue with it. I only see 2 people who posted before you and I personally know one of them. I can absolutely attest that the person would not meet any such qualification. :eek:
 
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ManicMarc

macrumors 6502
Jul 1, 2012
454
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Just a couple of back of the envelope generalization calculations.

31 would give you about a MHR of about 190bpm. In general in running once you pass about 80% of your MHR you start moving into anaerobic territory. Even in a highly conditioned athlete above 90% to 95% of MHR is painful (lactic acid build up) and can only be tolerated for a reasonably short amount of time (think sprinting).

Unless you are pushing yourself really hard (usually only in a race) and tolerating a lot of discomfort your average HR should likely be well south of 170bpm/90% (and probably closer to 150/160bpm range) on even your hardest runs.

The :apple:Watch can struggle to maintain accurate HR reading when running and must be worn 'exactly' right to give accurate results. If serious about running you should be using a more comprehensive watch with chest strap (like Garmin). I use my :apple:Watch as my overall fitness monitor but add my Garmin 620 when running.
Thanks for the detailed reply. I know a bit about heart rates as I used to have a condition known as Supraventricular Tachycardia, however this was fixed in an oblation about 5 years ago, it meant heart rates of around 240bpm even when lying down. Not all the time obviously! I would always feel it 'kick in' occasionally and have to go and sit down for a bit.
I will get an external monitor and see if it's much different.
I don't feel particularly strained when running so I'm guessing it's just not getting a good reading. Interesting - I just took my resting heart rate manually while also measuring it on the watch - I got 64BPM and the watch was fluctuating between 60 and 66.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
11,282
4,265
Atlanta
....condition known as Supraventricular Tachycardia, however this was fixed in an oblation about 5 years ago, it meant heart rates of around 240bpm even when lying down.....
I'm guessing you are cleared to do cardio by your cardiologist (and have yearly exams)? In your case I would defiantly have a chest strap (and :apple:Watch) monitoring my HR closely when doing any cardio to check for abnormalities.

I have used many HR straps. If you just want a strap you can get something like a Wahoo Tickr Run and pair to your :apple:Watch: http://www.wahoofitness.com/devices/tickr-run-running-monitor

Or get something like a Garmin Forerunner 230 bundle:
https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/into-sports/running/forerunner-230/prod523893.html
 
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