Apple Watch users all over the world are curious about its accuracy. This time, we bring you a detailed analysis of the accuracy of the Apple Watch on a treadmill. We have tried to answer the most common doubts that Apple Watch lovers have in their minds all the time, with detailed and technical explanations. Here we go!
How Accurate is Apple Watch on Treadmill?
In an experimental pursuit or study back in 2019 in the UK, 118 participants were tested to complete a distance of a marathon(26.2 miles or 42 km) using a treadmill. Out of various smartwatches or activity trackers that were used for the study, the results were rather surprising.
The “all-around smart fitness tracker” Garmin Vivosmart 4 was the least reliable as it underestimated the distance by a whopping 10.8 miles. It showed that the runner completed a marathon of 37 miles. When asked, Garmin said that the result was poor due to the absence of GPS in that particular activity tracker.
With that context in mind, you must be curious to know how Apple Watches performed. Well, to everyone’s surprise, Apple Watch Series 1 was the most accurate as it overestimated the distance by a meager 1 percent. Apple Watch Series was a failure as it overestimated the tracking by an eye-opening 13 percent. It showed that the runner has covered a total distance of 22.8 miles.
The results were not good for other brands as well. But, overall Apple Watches were the most accurate bunch. So, to answer the question, Apple Watches, while being the best in the segment of smartwatches are still moderately accurate on Treadmills.
It is not only the case with distance covered, but also with the tracking of calories burnt. Another study in January 2019, conducted at Aberystwyth University concluded the same.
How can I make my Apple Watch more accurate on a Treadmill?
Now that you know Apple Watches are only moderately accurate with the tracking of distance and calories burnt, you would want to make it more accurate on a treadmill, won’t you? Well, to achieve that, you need to calibrate your Apple Watch for the treadmill.
Calibrating is vital for a sensor to adapt to a situation and work flawlessly with the best accuracy possible. When you calibrate your Apple Watch, you are simply training your Apple Watch to record forthcoming data more accurately. You can use a walk or run at a natural speed and this data can be used as a reference or a benchmark to quantify other runs and workouts at variable paces.
For instance, if you train or calibrate your Apple Watch with a walk that was of 1 km and took a time of 20 minutes, it will be of great use for your Apple Watch. Your Apple Watch will use the same data along with other stats like calories, and heart rate as a reference point for future tracking.
If you go for another walk of 1 km and this time you completed it in 10 minutes. If the watch tries to match the reading with the calibration done earlier for 20 minute- walk, you will know instantly that there is some error and the results are not trustworthy. The Apple watch too will try to rectify this result with some statistical metrics like averaging or interpolation.
Is the treadmill or Apple Watch more accurate for calories burned?
While none of them measure the calories burnt accurately, your Apple Watch could be far more accurate compared to your treadmill. Apple Watches come with tons of sensors that track various physiological functions of your body and save the data. If you have entered all of your medical stats and history, body macro proportions along with your workout regime, the Apple Watch will measure your heart rate, skin temperature, and movement much more precisely than a generic treadmill.
Stationary exercise bikes, ellipticals, and treadmills are not equipped with high-end sensors for measuring vitals and stats of the body. Most of them cannot be customized with user information and medical history. All they use is a mathematical algorithm based on distance, time, elevation, height, weight, and the age of the person.
So, an Apple Watch should be more accurate when it comes to tracking burnt calories. This argument can be more valid if your Apple Watch is calibrated with your treadmill.
Sports and Fitness Review for Apple Watch
Can I calibrate my Apple Watch on a treadmill?
Yes, you can definitely calibrate your Apple Watch on your Treadmill. Apple Watch allows you to calibrate its sensors for any possible exercise and activities.
Steps for a general Calibration
- Go to Settings on your iPhone and tap on Privacy
- From there go to Location Services and make sure that Location Services is turned ON
- Now, Scroll down and tap on System Services
- You need to make sure that the Motion Calibration and Distance is turned on
- Now, you can follow the instructions on the screen to calibrate your Apple Watch indoors.
- You can help the accuracy of your Apple Watch by calibrating it on a treadmill with a walk or a run. You might have to do this a couple of times to train your Apple Watch Better.
Why is my Apple Watch not accurate on the treadmill?
Apple Watch is nothing without its sensors and their sensitivity. So, these sensors need to calibrate on a regular basis to obtain optimum tracking.
If you have switched to running outdoors or changed the way you work out, your Apple Watch might not be as accurate as it was on the treadmill before. But, this is a small issue and can be fixed by a quick calibration.
So, next time you notice a drop in the accuracy of your Apple Watch when you are running or walking on a treadmill, follow the steps above and recalibrate it.
How does Apple Watch Count steps on a treadmill?
On a treadmill, your Apple Watch uses accelerometer sensor data and the heart rate measurement (via PPG on your wrist) to figure out how far and at what pace you are running or walking. So, it basically uses your arm swings and translates that into the distance.
Given the limitations of the Apple Watch (without using GPS) on a treadmill, it can still be fairly accurate. You can further heighten the accuracy of your Apple Watch on your treadmill for counting steps by calibrating it. This way, the Apple Watch can learn about your body motion and give much more sensible readings during future runs.
How to calibrate Apple Watch 6?
Calibration means training a sensor or a device with normal data so that it can adapt to a given consistency or environment. When you calibrate a device you make it more accurate and adapted to suit your needs
Here is how you can calibrate your Apple Watch 6 (Series 6) for better tracking of your workouts and exercises.
Follow these steps.
- Open Settings on your iPhone and go to Privacy. From there Tap on Location Services
- After you toggle ON the Location Services, scroll down and click on the System Services. From there, Turn ON Motion Calibration and Distances
- Once you are done with these settings on your phone, Put on your Apple Watch Series 6 and go to an open, flat space (preferably outside).
- Make sure the GPS tracking is good. You can check the same by opening the Maps app to see how accurate the Apple Watch 6 shows your current location
- Open the Workout app on your Apple Watch 6, select the workout “Outdoor Run” or “Outdoor Walk”
- Now, tap on the three dots on the workout and you can set a goal of 20 minutes for your workout prior to performing the workout.
- Start walking or running at your normal or usual speed. If 20 minutes is too long for you, you can divide it into several small workouts.
- You don’t have to sprint. Try to maintain a normal and constant pace.
- When you run or walk, your Apple Watch 6 will measure your pace and set it as a reference or norm for future runs and walks
- Your Apple Watch 6 is now calibrated.
Can I calibrate my Apple Watch on a treadmill – How to do it?
Yes, you can calibrate your Apple Watch on a treadmill. This is different from calibrating it outside where you have the advantage of GPS tracking which makes the tracking much more accurate than running inside on a treadmill. While most of the steps are the same, there are a few changes. Let’s see them.
Part – I – On your iPhone
- Go to the Settings app on your iPhone and tap on Privacy
- Search for Location Services and tap on it
- Once there, Search for System Services and tap on it
- Turn on “Motion Calibration and Distance”
Part – II – On your Apple Watch using a Treadmill
- Get on the treadmill wearing your Apple Watch
- Before starting the exercise, open the workout app and start the indoor run or indoor walk (whichever you plan to do on your treadmill)
- Tap on the three horizontal dots icon and you can start running or walking
- Keep running or walking for 20 minutes. This is the threshold time Apple Watch takes to collect enough data to use it as a calibration point or reference level for other workouts
- After 20 minutes of running or walking, your Apple Watch is calibrated for your treadmill workout (run or walk)
Best treadmill App for the Apple Watch
There are some dedicated apps for your Apple Watch for tracking your runs or walks on a treadmill. These apps are designed and developed with utmost focus on Treadmill-related workouts. Thus they are guaranteed to perform better than any generic health app. We will talk about a few popular and best ones.
From the brand Asics, Runkeeper doesn’t need an introduction if you are into running. For people who are starting their running regime, they should know that Runkeeper is one of the best running apps in the Apple App Store for your Apple Watch.
Since Runkeeper is designed to track running, it does an awesome job on the treadmill as well. Though it is not refined or optimized to the same level as the smartphone version, it can definitely help you in accurately tracking your runs on the treadmill without the iPhone.
Other features of Runkeeper include –
- Tracking workouts
- Celebration for workout completions
- Runkeeper Go comes with the Goal coach
- Tracks nearly 30 different types of activities
- Auto pause feature
- You can tag your friends on a workout
- You can adjust audio cues
- Night mode
- Countdown timer
- You can change activity map viewability
Nike Run Club
From the house of Nike, Nike Run Club is another quite popular app that tracks running and walking sessions. It can work perfectly with walking and running on a treadmill as well. Nike Run Club is available for your Apple Watch. So, you can install it and use it to track your treadmill workouts seamlessly.
Other features of Nike Run Club –
- Detailed tracking of all your progress
- With NRC’s custom playlists from Apple Music, you can stay motivated
- Running together with friends via sharing
- Offers personalized Coaching
- You can tag your favorite shoes
- Share your progress with the world
Aaptiv is another great app for tracking your treadmill workouts. It comes with a bunch of awesome features. To begin with, it gives you over 2500 trainer-guided and music-driven workout sessions. This way you can stay motivated all the time.
Aaptiv also offers a dedicated and comprehensive set of features for a treadmill workout. You can set peak speed, peak incline, estimated distance, and music style in the app before starting a treadmill run or a walk. This can be a great choice of app for your treadmill regime.
Other features of Aaptiv are –
- Treadmill tracking (Duh!)
- Strength Training tracking
- Yoga and stretching tracking
- Barre, Elliptical and indoor cycling tracking
- Outdoor running tracking
This might be the last in the least but it has nothing to do with the quality of the app. The Studio is a great app for treadmill workouts as it comes with tons of guided videos for your workout. It is especially useful for those who are starting their journey in the fitness world and looking for guidance and motivation at the same time.
There is an Apple Watch version of the STUDIO app which you can use directly with your Apple Watch.
The app covers workouts like –
- Treadmill run
Why is the distance on my Apple watch different than the Treadmill, and which one is more accurate?
To answer this, we need first assess the source of information that an Apple Watch and a treadmill have.
Your Apple Watch deploys a range of sensors along with your private health information to determine distance, calories, and other important stats about your bodily functions.
Your Treadmill uses the number of rounds of the moving conveyer belt to determine the distance covered. It uses a mathematical calorie counting algorithm that is general and not specific to your body structure and vital information.
So, when it comes to comparative accuracy between your Apple Watch and your treadmill, the data provided by the Apple Watch is much more precise compared to the data collected by the treadmill. This is simply due to the high-tech sensors involved and the level of personalization Apple Watches offers to their users.
There is no doubt that the Apple Watch is one of the most accurate smartwatches in the world. But the accuracy drops when it comes to tracking your workout on a treadmill. Since GPS cannot be used on a treadmill, the efficiency of the Apple Watch, or any smartwatch for that matter takes a massive hit. Nevertheless, Apple Watch still performs better than the rest and definitely better than your treadmill when it comes to collecting data.
Further, you can use the calibration methods provided above to elevate the accuracy of your Apple Watch.