Apple Watches have long been the cornerstone of the smart watch market. They’re loved for their detailed health data gathering and for the fact that they encourage people to get more exercise and be more active. Watching the calories tick up on your morning dog walk is somehow strangely motivating. But how accurate is the calorie counting really?

Calorie Counting On An Apple Watch

There are many reasons why you might want to count calories, but whatever the reason you’ll want an accurate way to know that they are being burned off. There are different ways to burn calories and an Apple Watch can’t help with this but it can help with how many you have burned carrying out the task you set out to do.

First of all, it’s important to mention that everyone burns calories differently. If you’re a larger person you will burn calories quicker because there is more of you to move so it takes more effort. If you’re physically fit you’re going to burn a lot fewer calories compared to someone who rarely exercises because their body isn’t used to moving and will work harder.

The number of calories burned during exercise also depends on how hard you work – yes you’ve told your watch that you’re going for a run, or you’re lifting weights, but the difference between working up a light sweat and working so hard that you feel ill is a huge number of calories. There really isn’t a simple way to calculate for this that’s going to be 100% accurate.

Your Apple Watch takes into account your personal information, such as your height, weight, gender and age in order to calculate how many calories you burn during exercise but it is never going to be as accurate as professional medical equipment.

What Do Apple Say?

While Apple have never commented directly on how accurate their calorie counting is, they’ve provided ways to improve accuracy. They recommend calibrating your Apple Watch by going to a flat, open area with good GPS signal and doing a 20 minute walk. They also suggest to turn on wrist detection in the settings, ensure that your watch fits properly and isn’t too loose or tight, and to choose the most accurate workout options (i.e. choosing “jog” instead of “run”).

Whilst the Apple Watch calorie counter is useful if looking to get a rough idea of how much you move your body each day, it’s unlikely going to be able to provide you with a calorie count that’s as accurate as professional heart rate monitor so should be used as a guide rather than medically accurate. If you find that seeing the calories burned counting up then an Apple Watch is great.