Anyone else seeing Apple Watch work out registering way too high numbers?

watchOS & Apple Watch Apps

Hi all! I realize that this isn't an accessibility related bug, but I thought I'd check with you guys first anyway, before trying to report this to Apple in some way.
I'm currently running a work out competition with a friend on our Apple Watches, both running on Apple Watch S 4 with the latest Watch OS. Thing is, he suddenly had beat me with several hundred points, and when asking him what was going on, he told me something curious. He had started a yoga work out while sitting through an hour long meditation with no movement at all involved, just to see what happened. Well, as mentioned, he gathered several hundred points and also filled the training ring with a good amount too, just by sitting still for an hour.
I thought this was very weird, so I started a "Other" work out exercise myself, and let it run for about one hour, while mostly tidying up our dinner table and after that just sitting still surfing the web on my Mac. And guess what! After 1 hour I had over 300 active calories burned, and I had also completed all three activity rings on my watch for today!
So what the h*** is going on here? I tried googling the web for similar experiences, but didn't seem to find anything quite related to this issue.
When actually working out a few days ago, I also started the "other" work out exercise, since that suited my activity of strength work out best. And when now comparing the 2 work outs, one from a few days ago when actually lifting weights and training strength, and the one from today when mostly doing nothing, the results come out more or less the same, with around the same amounts of calories burned on 2 work out sessions of quite similar lengths.
This must be a major blunder for Apple if our observations are correct!
This might be an Apple Watch series 4 issue only, since both of us are running this model, but I suspect that isn't the case..
So the question is, have any of you other Apple Watch users experienced this, or would anyone owning an Apple Watch be willing to test this, just by starting a work out, I suspect any of the available work outs would give the same result, and let it run for say an hour while doing activities as far away from exercising as possible, preferably sitting mostly still and doing nothing the whole hour, and then see what the work out results will be. I suspect that this will give you way higher numbers than if you had just done the same without logging it as a work out the same hour. And also, how big difference does it actually make if you are up and running or doing other physical demanding activities, or if you lay on your back on the coach eating chocolate while having a work out running on your watch.
And lastly I must ask, even though a google search most likely would provide me with a good answer, but thing is, I have never reported any none-accessibility issues to Apple before, except for when running Apple betas and repporting through the feedback app provided through the beta software. So how would one repport this bug, if it is a bug?
Thanks in advance for all clarifying experiences and information you can give me!
Take care



Submitted by Brooke on Friday, December 7, 2018

So far, if I set a workout and then for some reason don't start right away, it doesn't log any calories. But that's only for a minute here and there. Your post has me curious. I've just set a walking workout while I sit here and do nothing, so we'll see what happens.

Submitted by Joseph Westhouse on Friday, December 7, 2018

I know that the "Other" workout says when you first start it that it will give you the equivalent of a brisk walk whenever sensor data isn't available. I was just doing one last night and got a phone call in the middle of it, and by the time I got off the phone it told me I had burned about 150 calories, which of course I had not. Is it possible that the workout mode your friend was in was doing something similar, where it defaults to assuming a certain activity level?

Submitted by Cliff on Friday, December 7, 2018

In reply to by Joseph Westhouse

You may be on to something... He was using the Yoga work out while sitting completely still meditating for an hour. I'm curious to what will happen if I chose e.g. a walking work out and then try sitting on my butt for a good while :) But a work out that just guess what you burn couldn't anyway be a very good sellingpoint for Apple... This whole thing has gotten me really baffled...

Submitted by Seanoevil on Saturday, December 8, 2018

I am going to offer a contrarian view and suggest that, using the principle of Garbage In Garbage Out, the Apple Watch is working exactly as expected.

I am by no means an expert, but let me explain my reasoning…

The Watch has sensors to track duration, Heart rate, movement, altitude changes and GPS positioning. This information alone is nowhere near enough to determine type of activity, let alone calculate an accurate calorie burn for a workout.

Fortunately, the watch also has in-depth research pre-programmed about the expected Calorie burn of many different workout types accross many different levels of excertion. It may also know a little about you courtesy of the Health App. Entering this information correctly is, therefore, an important part of getting an accurate result.

If you deliberately feed the Watch misinformation or Garbage Input, such as telling the watch you are doing Yoga when you are not, can you expect the results out to be anything other than Garbage too?

Let’s go back to someone deliberately feeding the watch misinformation by feeding themselves cookies on the couch whilst recording a Yoga Workout.

Undoubtedly a worthwhile form of exercise, Yoga typically does not increase heart rate, does not entail fast active movement, does not involve elevation change nor GPS Location tracking. The on board sensors then probably can’t source enough information to make an accurate activity calculation, so what is it to do?

My guess is that it relies on pre-determined data about the health benefits of Yoga and applies that information for the recorded duration of your cookie eating binge. You’ve told it you were doing Yoga, there’s no sensor input to contradict your request so calculations are made based on the information supplied. Information, may I remind you, supplied by you.

Apple and the other manufacturers of Fitness wearables have undertaken a lot of research into varying forms of exercise. I surmise that the results of these studies are analysed and condensed down to algorithms that appear on our watches as the different types of workout. we can select. Each time we select a different workout type, we are overlaying a different algorithm over the sensor information collected by the watch.

Finally, I expect that you would get similarly incorrect results if you elected to feed the watch other forms of misinformation too. Strap your watch to a puppy dogs tail and let Her wag your way to 10000 steps a day, tell it your going for a swim and jump on a jet-ski instead , you’ll be earning those activity awards in no time.

So, avoid feeding your watch, and yourself, garbage input and you’ll get proper results. Otherwise, keep enjoying cookies on the couch and winning those Activity Awards fatty*…


*fatty, said for comedic effect. Not actually referring to anyone on this forum….

Hmm... Interesting idea... But I’m not completely convinsed.
I’ve now tried this with walking and roawing work outs too, and the results are more or less the same. I do agree that perhaps the yoga exercise activity is one that demands for more predefined estimates, but I used the «other» work out when first trying to cheat my way to victory, and that work out of all should be open for what ever activity you throw at it, and not come with much predefined expectations of what this work out should be or what it should give you of calories burned.
Also, in normal use, the watch checks your pulse every now and then to preserve batterylife and then just calculate an average of your heart rate. But when doing a work out, the heart rate should be measured continuosly while the work out is running so that you should get a much more reliable heart rate measurement and thus more correct calories burned. So if I first sat on my butt for an hour, eating cookies and get perhaps 20 calories burned through that same hour, while the heart rate is checked perhaps every 5 minutes. And then I start one of the work outs, lets say «other», and do the exact same as I did the previous hour, but now the pulse and accelerometer data is measured constant. How can I then suddenly get 300 calories burned while the work out is logged, and perhaps not more than 20 calories burned while doing the same activity without starting a work out?
I’m not saying you are completely wrong, I’m just not able to understand that this can be right... For me it seems like something is way off here....

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