Workout Tracking with the Apple Watch

I’ve been using the Apple Watch to track my activity levels and workouts for nearly a year now and the convenience and ease of use has been great. Two weeks ago, I went to Bukit Tabur East and the Apple Watch recorded this:

Workout tracking - polar beat vs Apple watch

Only 248 calories on a 3 hour hike? Surely something is amiss? So I did a test workout using the Polar Beat alongside the Apple Watch:

Workout tracking - polar beat vs Apple watch Workout tracking - polar beat vs Apple watch

Wow… 429 versus 232 – that is a big difference!


The difference in calorie burn is even more significant when I tracked my hike to Bukit Tabur West:

Workout stats Workout stats

2296 versus 390! Can this be right? Is the Polar over-calculating calories? Is the Apple Watch under-calculating them? So what is it? Can I treat myself to a whole tub of Haagan Daz or am I only allowed a little scoop?


When I tracked a Pilates workout, the differences weren’t so significant (Polar vs Apple):

  • Active Calories – 160 cal vs 189 cal
  • Total Calories – 236 cal vs 265 cal

Except that this time, it was the Apple Watch that recorded the higher energy expenditure.

Polar or Apple?

According to Livestrong, Polar monitors are generally pretty accurate when it comes to energy expenditure. It also seems I’m not the only one who thinks the Apple Watch may be under-calculating calories. It turns out, I need to calibrate my Apple Watch for improved workout and activity accuracy. In the meantime, maybe we should just stick to the Polar Beat.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

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