Homy Gyms 101

Why the Discrepancy Between iPod and Treadmill Calories and Distance?

Many trainees monitor their walking, jogging, and running outdoors sessions using smartwatches often connected with their smartphones for data analysis later. And the data is pretty accurate.

However, when smartwatches are used at home for monitoring walking, jogging, and running sessions on treadmills, there may be significant discrepancies between data provided by the smartwatch/smartphone (Apple Watch/iPod combination, for example) and the treadmill. But, this issue can be solved relatively easily...

Published: April 29, 2022.

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Measuring the Distance and Burned Calories.

When the activity is done outside, smartwatches (in this case Apple Watch) measure the distance by either pairing with the smartphone which features a built-in GPS sensor, or by using an internal built-in GPS sensor - this allows them to accurately measure distance, speed, incline, etc. providing rather accurate data regarding the covered distance and burned calories.

However, when the workout session is done indoors, on a treadmill, smartwatches can't use GPS to measure the distance - when working out on a treadmill (walking, jogging, running), smartwatches (Apple Watch included) measure arm swings using built-in accelerometers, which provide data for Activity and Workout apps to estimate the covered distance and burned calories.

And this "estimate" is the biggest reason why there is a difference between data provided by Apple Watch/iPod/smartwatch and the treadmill.

In order to improve the accuracy of burned calories, covered distance, and other estimates made by the Apple Watch, one has to calibrate it.

Calibration compares data from the accelerometer with GPS data during walking, jogging, and running outdoors, and helps the Apple Watch learn how arm movements relate to the stride length at different speeds, improving greatly accuracy when the trainee uses the treadmill again.

In order to calibrate Apple Watch feel free to check the Calibrating your Apple Watch for improved Workout and Activity Accuracy article (link opens in the new window).

If You have another type of smartwatch, consider checking its manufacturer's official support page.

Long Story Short: People were walking, jogging, and running much before smartwatches and other wearable electronics and gadgets, in general, took our lives.

It is nice to know the covered distance, burned calories, heart rate, and other relevant data during the exercise and to be able to analyze data after the exercise, but sometimes it is perhaps best to go out and enjoy a nice day of walking, jogging or running.

And if it is not a viable option, turn on your treadmill, relax and enjoy your time - knowing or not exactly how many calories were burned is less important than burning them regularly :)

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