Apple Watch is one of the most popular and reliable smartwatches out there. However, according to a 2019 study, smartwatches aren't that accurate when it comes to measuring the distance covered on the treadmill. This has left many treadmill users wondering, between the apple watch vs treadmill distance, which is more accurate?
The research involved 118 participants who completed a marathon (42 km/ 26.2 miles) on a treadmill. More importantly, activity trackers like smartwatches were used to track their progress on the machine.
Surprisingly, one of the trackers used underestimated the distance covered by about 10.8 miles. So, to sum up, the study concluded that most smartwatches don't track the treadmill run accurately. But does this apply to the Apple watch, which is considered the most accurate smartwatch on the planet?
Well, stick around to find out! In this article, I'll help you determine whether you're getting wrong readings on your Apple Watch while training on the treadmill and how you can improve its accuracy.
That said, let's dive right in!
Best Apple Watch Running App
If you're planning to use your Apple Watch while training on a treadmill, you must be prepared. This includes finding a treadmill app since the Apple watch cannot recognize or adjust declines and inclines. Instead, the smartwatch shows measurements based on the arm swings.
Besides, most running apps and smartwatches aren't specifically designed for treadmill workouts. For that, you'll need a treadmill running app that is compatible with your smartwatch. Some of the best options available for treadmill running/ walking include:
Runkeeper is a great running app that comes with your Apple Watch, eliminating the need to have your phone while training. More notably, it's a great fitness tracker for treadmill running as it easily tracks your runs.
Nike Run Club
Considered one of the best running apps for tracking your treadmill workout sessions, Nike Run Club is easy to download on the Apple Watch. Moreover, it comes with custom and global challenges while making it easy to track your walking & running workouts. Better still, it provides audio-guided runs and personalized coaching plans.
Aaptiv comes with many great features, such as trainer-led training sessions. In addition, it supports treadmill workouts and allows you to set the incline and peak speed. Plus, it will enable you to set your favorite music style, making your treadmill sessions more enjoyable.
How Accurate is the Apple Watch Distance?
Due to its excellent software, superior build quality, and tracking features, Apple Watch is undoubtedly one of the best smartwatches that track distance and pace. Unfortunately, however, it has its set of flaws, especially regarding Apple Watch distance accuracy on the treadmill.
In a 2022 study, runners were asked to wear fitness trackers from various brands while running on treadmills. The outcome of this research showed that the distance recorded by most smartwatches varied greatly from the treadmill distance. Simply put, distance data tracked on the treadmill and Apple watch don't match.
Although Apple Watch performed relatively better compared to other trackers, it had an inaccuracy of 1%. In other words, most smartwatches, including Apple Watch, aren't that accurate when it comes to tracking distance covered on the treadmill.
Apple Watch has some of the best sensors for tracking health metrics and activities. However, it's inaccurate in tracking treadmill data due to the lack of GPS data.
Over time, Apple Watch and other smartwatches have become more accurate in tracking runs because of GPS data and accelerometers. Unfortunately, the Apple watch is designed for outdoor running, not for indoor workouts.
Why Is My Apple Watch GPS Not Accurate in Tracking Treadmill Runs?
Simple! The smartwatch only depends on the accelerometer to track speed, distance, and other metrics. However, accelerometers are easily influenced by direction and motion change, so their data will not be so accurate.
As a result, entirely depending on accelerometers for tracking running distance on the treadmill isn't a great idea. More importantly, this means that the distance recorded by your Apple Watch app will be very different from the one tracked by the treadmill.
On the bright side, you can still get some acceptable tracking data from your Apple watch if you calibrate it. You'll learn how to reset the fitness calibration data of your Apple watch in the next section!
How Accurate is the Apple Watch Calories Apart from tracking distance, the Apple watch also tracks the number of calories burned while working out on the treadmill. However, you need to reset your smartwatch's calibration data first for the treadmill to measure the calories burned accurately.
So, here's how to calibrate your Apple watch!
- First, go to your iPhone's settings
- Scroll down to My Watch tab & tap on the 'Privacy' Option
- Tap on the 'Location Services' Option
- Tap 'System Services', go to the 'Motion Calibration and Distance' option, and turn it on.
Now that you’ve calibrated your Apple watch, get onto the treadmill and open your running app. But before you start, choose the mode of your workout. Next, perform an indoor walk workout or run on the treadmill for at least 20 minutes to allow your smartwatch to collect enough data. The smartwatch will be calibrated after the 20-min exercise, using the collected data as a reference during the other workouts.
Like distance, the readings of burned calories tracked by the Apple Watch will not be accurate. If you want to determine the exact number of calories burned, use the Foot Pod instead since it's far more accurate than the Apple Watch.
The Best Treadmills Compatible with Apple Watch
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-T7515
- Bluetooth wireless connectivity
- 12 incline levels
- 3 countdown modes; calories, speed & time
- Backlit digital LCD displays
Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill
- Compact, fold-able design
- 20 X 55" 3-zone cushioned deck
- Ultra-quiet, durable motor
- Bluetooth connection
XTERRA Fitness TRX3500 Treadmill
- 3.0 HP Motor
- 6.5" easy-to-read bright blue backlit LCD display
- Inbuilt Bluetooth connectivity
- Handle mounted incline & speed controls
Conclusion: What’s More Accurate; Treadmill Distance or Apple Watch?
When it comes to Apple watch vs treadmill distance, treadmills are way more accurate for several reasons. First, as mentioned earlier, Apple Watch uses GPS data to track the distance covered while walking or running. Unfortunately, this doesn't work when you're using a treadmill since you're walking/ running in the same place. As a result, the distance recorded by the Apple watch while training on a treadmill will not be accurate. However, you can try calibrating the apple watch to improve accuracy, but this doesn't mean that it will be perfect!
On the contrary, the treadmill calculates the distance walked/ ran by measuring the revolutions of the treadmill belt. Therefore, this distance measured is almost inch-perfect in terms of accuracy since the belt length is fixed and the number of rotations is easy to calculate.
1. Does Apple watch track steps on a treadmill?
Yes, the Apple Watch will track your steps as you walk on the treadmill. Moreover, you can enhance its accuracy by calibrating it and swinging the arm on which you're wearing the watch.
2. What does a mile look like on a treadmill?
The stride length of an average person is around 2.1 - 2.5 feet. Therefore, walking 1 mile on the treadmill will take over 2000 steps, while 5 miles will take about 10,000 steps.
3. How to add a treadmill workout to the apple watch?
Open your preferred workout app on the Apple watch. Next, scroll down and select the 'Add workout' option. Next, browse through the different workouts available and tap the desired activity.
4. Does shaking my iPhone count steps?
Most movement tracking apps use your iPhone's built-in motion sensor to recognize your movement. Therefore, these apps may count steps when you shake the phone since they'll remember the movement as walking.