Question About Fitness Calibration Usefulness

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by Traverse, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Traverse macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #1
    My exercise routine includes a treadmill with between 4 and 5mph workouts. The fitness app on the Apple Watch recommends I calibrate it with an outdoor walk/run. I've read several articles about it, but am still confused by something.

    If I walk outside, I know I will not keep a constant 4mph pace, it will actually be much slower and it's in loops around my neighborhood, not some straight run in the park. Will calibrating at a slower speed really help it become that much more accurate for indoor walks/runs on a treadmill?

    What are you experiences with calibrating vs non calibration and treadmill workouts.
     
  2. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #2
    I would expect that the calibration outdoors is correlating your distance moved per step (as counted by arm swings). That can then create an 'average step length' calibration that can improve the accuracy indoors on a treadmill.
     
  3. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

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    #3
    When walking with your iPhone it looks at the distance traveled via your gps and the steps taken to calibrate your walking. It is not perfect and you stride on the treadmill will be different no matter what you do. You may not get your watch and you treadmill to agree with each other. All devices will measure steps/distance differently.
     
  4. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #4
    They don't have to agree (I've never even put in any info into the treadmill) I just wasn't sure if calibrating it on an outside walk would make a meaningful adjustment to accuracy when walking on the treadmill. I suppose it will. Now I just need a clear day. -__-

    None of these trackers are perfect, so I just like to get general ideas from them.
     
  5. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

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    #5
    A good treadmill should be very accurate as it knows how fast the track is moving and should be pretty darn close without any adjustments.
     
  6. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #6
    Oh, I was referring to things like calorie count.

    For distance, I assume it is accurate and that's how I judge my Apple Watch. I mean, I would hope my treadmill knows how fast it's going! :eek:
     
  7. BlueMoon63 macrumors 68000

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    #7
    I've calibrated several times using several different running speeds. I've done a walk, a jog and interval runs using the same path and it turns out the path is 1.78 miles. Now, without the iPhone, the same path has registered 1.76 to 1.81 which is accurate enough for me. I will never care about the distance if it comes in at 1.9 or 1.6 some day.

    My treadmill runs after the calibrations were off by quite a bit until I ran the calibration on my treadmill. Now the watch and treadmill are usually within 5% of each other. That is also fine with me. Before I calibrated the treadmill, the runs were off by as much as 15-20%.

    If you are OCD or serious about running - especially outside, the Apple Watch isn't the best choice at all. But if I were a serious runner, I would have a dedicated device. :)
     
  8. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #8
    I would not trust treadmills for calorie count. They're infamous for being wildly off, usually overestimating by 30-40% or worse.
     
  9. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #9
    I have another quick question just to make sure I get the point of calibrating the device at all.

    The point of calibrating the Apple watch is to make it more accurate when you don't have your phone correct? Since my walking/running is indoors, I have no need to strap my phone on me.

    I haven't had a chance to calibrate it yet because of bad weather. Both yesterday and today I did a 20 minute walk at 4mph; one with my iPhone on my person, one without. The total distance and average pace were almost identical with and without my iPhone, but the calorie count dropped significantly (from 208 with phone to 138 without). Will I always need to keep my phone one my person for more accurate readings?
     
  10. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #10
    I never do. I used MyFitnessPal a year ago when I went from 215 to 169 lbs and its calorie count was way less than my treadmills (about 30%). I checked other fitness databases using my characteristics and they were all around MFP's numbers, not my treadmills, so I ignore it.
     
  11. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

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    #11
    The GPS in your iPhone is supposed to calibrate your watch to make the distance more accurate on the watch while walking. 20 minutes should do it according to Apple.
     
  12. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #12
    So the watch will remove the need to have your phone on you as you exercise or will you still get significantly better readings with it on your person?
     
  13. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

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    #13
    Supposedly, the watch should be more accurate after the iPhone's GPS calibrates your steps. The watch will use this calibration and make the distances you wal more accurate without the iPhone being on your person.
     
  14. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #14
    Indoors I doubt it will make a difference one way or the other. Outdoors it will be more accurate when you have the phone.
     
  15. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #15
    For me, the watch alone is "good enough" without the phone. Most of my exercising falls under "Other" in the Workout app anyway.

    But, going for a walk or a jog, I'm more concerned about the time of day or the duration, not the distance. The last time I really cared about distance was a couple years ago when I rode my bike a hundred kilometers (a "metric century", as they call it) out-and-back. 31 miles out, 31 miles back. Achieving this goal taught me that I got bored by riding for so long and I just wanted to get back home -- but my Garmin was there to show me when to turn back.

    Anyway, I think duration is more important for cardio exercise. Your heart doesn't know how far you're going, it just knows that you're working hard. If you run the same distance, and as you get fitter you keep getting faster, you finish quicker so you're making your heart work less… right?

    Greg LeMond, the first American winner of the Tour de France, said, "It doesn't get any easier. You just get faster."
     
  16. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #16
    I'm not too concerned about distance, but is like accurate calorie counts
     
  17. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #17
    It's close enough to my Garmin 410's estimates that I'm about to retire the Garmin.

    Have you gotten yourself tested by a physiologist yet, though?
     
  18. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #18
    No, I'm not *that* into it. I just want something casual. But if calibrating will make a differences I'll be sure to do so when I have a clear day. Stupid rain!
     
  19. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #19
    Excuses, excuses. If it ain't rainin', you ain't trainin'! ;)

    I think the only calibration that happens is for distance, or stride length, anyway.

    For calories, it's just going to use your weight and HR, and maybe how much it gets waved around. I don't think it takes muscle mass or efficiency into account.
     
  20. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #20
    Well there was a 60% calorie difference when I did the same workout on two different days and the only difference was the first day I also had my phone on me, the second day I didn't have my phone one my person. (The workout with just the watch burned fewer calories).
     
  21. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    #21
    Hmm, crazy. Same HR trends for both days? Maybe it extrapolates more from the phone's movement than I thought.

    I could keep my phone on me, too, but I don't think it'll do anything worthwhile. Today was Pilates; tomorrow is lifting (push-ups & pull-ups). The phone won't be bouncing around much. ;)
     
  22. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #22
    The third day I did the same workout a third time, but with my phone again and I got another lower calorie count similar to the second day with just the watch. I don't know what happened on the first day with the 60% higher calorie count.

    Anyway, today I had a beatiful clear day and did a 32 minute outdoor walk with my phone. I'll be curious to do a few more tests on my treadmill now. I may download MyFitnessPal again (I stopped using it after I lost weight) and compare the data.
     
  23. Traverse thread starter macrumors 603

    Traverse

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    #23
    Here were my first 3 workouts before any calibration. All three were walking 4mph for 20-ish minutes.

    Day 1: watch and phone 208 calories
    Day 2: watch only 138 calories
    Day 3: watch and phone 145 calories

    I uploaded the, from my iPad and the attach to are in the wrong order.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 5, 2016, Original Post Date: Jan 4, 2016 ---
    Well, I can't say calibration did much, but the watch was never way off. My uncalibrated indoor walks distance started out about 0.2-0.3 miles off from the treadmill, but the gap started shortening. After calibration it was only 0.038 miles off. Calorie count remained consistent with the uncalibrated judgements.

    I'm going to redownload MyFitnessPal and see what it says calorie count should be. That's what I went by before and I want to see how close the Watch is to that. It's has distance down good though. :)
     

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  24. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

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    #24
    You would have to be a big "believer" to put a lot of stock in the Aw's calorie count.
     
  25. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #25
    Based on my workouts, I don't think its too far off. I don't think its accurate to the calorie, but I think when I workout and communicates that I did 500 calories in my workout, I'd say that's in the ballpark.
     

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