Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Tag: Apple Watch

Apple Watch Week 2 - Run/Walk Tracking Accuracy

*You can read all about my Apple Watch Initial Thoughts here.*

So I have now had the watch strapped to me for just under a week. I am still learning new things here and there, but for the most part, I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on how things work, as well as the functions and limitations. So far, I have to admit, I am really enjoying the Apple Watch experience!

I have used the watch for several workouts already, including a couple of runs that were just under 5km. I will write about my experiences with the watch and how it tracks more traditional strength training at a later date, but today is all about my experiences with its run tracking abilities so far.

On my runs, I wore my iPhone in an armband on the same arm as the watch strapped to my wrist. I used the RunKeeper app, using GPS to track my distance/pace/etc. I would like to think that RunKeeper would be accurate since it is using GPS tracking, however, I have seen the app misbehave a bit in the past, so this should by no means be a clear and decisive scientific study. There will be a slight discrepancy in time simply due to not being able to start both apps at the same time. Apple has a webpage set up detailing how to Calibrate your Apple Watch, so I tried to follow the directions as well as I could. The route I took for both runs was essentially the same with only slight differences towards the end of the run. There were slight changes in elevation, but nothing crazy by any means!

Posted below is the data collected from those 2 separate runs I went on in the past few days. The top images details the data collected from the Apple Watch whereas the small images underneath represent the corresponding 

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

So, on the first run, there was a 0.07km, or a 1.5% difference between the Apple Watch distance and the RunKeeper distance. The second run, however, gave me a 0.12km or 2.5% difference.

Now I am by no means saying that the RunKeeper app on my iPhone is the most accurate and detailed tracking device out there, but I would at least assume that it would be a bit more accurate than just my Apple Watch alone in collecting this type of data. If you are an avid runner that lives by your distances, split times, etc., then this may be too much discrepancy between the data for your. On the other hand, if you are that serious about your running then I would guess that you are probably already using other means to collect data on your training and races.

The other notable discrepancy in data is the amount of calories burned on these runs. The RunKeeper app is estimating a 65% and 30% increase over the Apple Watch's estimation. If I was to take a guess, I would say that the Apple Watch is probably more accurate in this regard. The first run listed there, for example, pegs me at burning over 500 calories in just 4.66km of running with the RunKeeper app. That certainly isn't impossible, but seems awfully high to me considering my level of effort on that run. For those of you wondering, yes, the data that I put into the RunKeeper app, including my height, weight, age, etc. is all up-to-date.

I am actually quite impressed with how accurate the watch is already, and it still has time to improve! According to Apple, the goal is to continue to use the watch so that it is calibrated to understand your stride, so over time, it can be even more accurate in tracking your activity. I will continue to test the watch on my runs to see if this gets even more accurate over time or if this slight discrepancy in data continues to exist. Time will tell, so stay tuned!





Apple Watch Initial Thoughts

Well, it finally arrived: my Apple Watch! Despite the fact that I ordered my 38mm Space Grey, Black Sport Band model within the first 3 minutes of pre-orders back on April 10th, I didn't receive my watch on launch day (April 24th), but instead received it this past Wednesday April 29th. Apparently there has been a supply constraint due to poor components or something.

Either way, the watch is here, and at the time of writing this blog, I've spent about 24 hours with it (minus the time I was sleeping of course!)

So, what exactly is going to be the purpose of this, and coming blogs you may ask? Well, I am not a tech reporter. In fact, I don't even really want to get into the more technical aspects of the Apple Watch, as I know of many other sources that have done, and will continue to do, a fantastic job at covering that. Instead, I am going to share my experiences with the watch, how it interacts with my active lifestyle, how accurate I feel the health tracking is, what health apps I enjoy, how it improves or plays a part in my job as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, as well as reviewing the watch and apps along the way.

I am fascinated by wearable tech, especially products that track and analyze our health data. In fact, I have worn a Jawbone UP24 for several months now, and although it gave me a lot of metric data, I felt like I wanted more. I am really intrigued by the Apple Watch, not only as a current product, but also where it is heading in the future, so it is a lot of fun to be in on that from the beginning.

So, what exactly are my thoughts after using this watch for about 24 hours?

Activity App

The Activity App has 3 rings that must be filled each day: Move, Exercise, and Stand.

Move is pretty simple, you set a goal based on what your daily activity level is like and then move your way to that goal. As far as I know, the accelerometers in the watch track the amount you move, mainly via the number of steps you take. I believe I selected the "moderate" goal at the beginning of the day, but between doing some mobility work in my home gym, walking my boys to daycare, and then going for a 4.5km run, I was nearly at my activity goal by 10am. I think this will take some adjusting over time based on what I believe my average amount of activity is and then set my target there to try and hit every day. The trickiest part will be to try and hit the same activity target on Sunday, which tends to be my least busiest day, but I believe the motivating factors of the watch will help me get there (more on that later). I am on my feet quite a lot throughout the day. Training my clients, leading instructional sessions, and then also training my athletes before coming home to chase my 3 and 1 year-old around, it is quite easy for me to hit 8-10k steps daily.

Stand is the one segment of the 3 that make up the activity app that I believe could use a little work from Apple. Sure, the watch notifies you to remember to stand if you haven't been up during that current hour. The problem here is that this target seems to reset every hour on the hour. When I wore my UP24, the band would recognize if I hadn't moved around within the past 30 minutes (that could be adjusted) and buzz. The Apple Watch isn't as smart, at least not yet. Let's say you are extremely active from 11:00-11:59am, but then sit from 12:00-12:49pm, at 12:50pm the watch will tap you to remind you to get up. This seems to be every hour at 12:50pm regardless of when you moved last. It should be noted that some are even reporting that even standing at a desk doesn't seem to count. It should be called "Stand and Move," or something similar because standing up from your chair doesn't cut it. You actually need to move around for a good minute or so before it registers that you have been up. To be honest, I really like this feature and hope that it gets tweaked a bit further to be as great as some of the other fitness bands on the market.

Exercise ties in with the Workout App (more on that later). Exercise must be at least 30 minutes, but can be anything equivalent to, or greater than a brisk walk. For some people 30 minutes of daily exercise may sound too easy. For others, 30 minutes may seem like a daunting task. I hope to see some customization from Apple in the future with regards to their exercise regulations so that some folks who like to exercise a lot can set their standards a bit higher.

Workout App

There are a few options available to choose from here: Outdoor Run, Outdoor Walk, Outdoor Cycle, Indoor Walk, Indoor Run, Indoor Cycle, Elliptical, Rower, Stair Stepper, and Other. This app seems to work really well with some of your traditional "cardio" workouts, but is definitely lacking in appropriate tracking for things like strength training, circuit training, yoga, etc. You can select "Other" as your workout, but ultimately I am hoping that more 3rd party apps are released to more accurately track these various types of workouts. For example, I really like doing more traditional strength training lately; higher intensity, lower repetitions, longer break periods. That probably doesn't track too well on a fitness tracker like this that is basing its calorie burn by collaborating movement data with heart rate data.

Having said that, the run tracking seems to work quite well, and will only become more accurate the more I use it. Here's why: The Apple Watch itself does not have GPS tracking in it. Apple suggests going for a walk or run with your iPhone a couple of times so that the watch can compare its data with the GPS tracking of your phone to develop a better understanding of your stride. Eventually, the watch will be able to learn more about you and how you run so that you won't need GPS from your phone to get an accurate measurement of how far you've run.

One of the best things about the Workout and Activity apps, in my opinion, are the Achievements. Sure, this is going to sound super dorky, especially coming from someone, such as myself who considers himself to be a pretty motivated person, but I can actually see myself striving to unlock some of these Achievements. Sure, they are essentially worthless prizes, but they do signify an accomplishment, and something that I can see being very motivating and special to a lot of people. It turns fitness into a bit of a game with actual goals to strive towards.

Well, that's it for now. I will continue to jot down various ideas about things I want to write about. If you have any questions or wish to see a specific topic or app covered in the blog, let me know by sounding off in the comments below, and stay tuned for plenty more! Thanks.