Composite screenshots of 3 activity rings from an Apple Watch. The first is labelled “extra bike” and all 3 rings are closed. The 2nd is labeled “lite bike” and the blue and green rings are closed, red ring is about 2/3 closed. Last is labeled “no bike,” only the blue ring is closed, green ring about 1/2 closed, red ring about 1/3 closed

Activity rings

Published 2019-04-09

Of course after my last humblebrag about biking 20mi/day I’d come down with a health issue laser-targeted to keep me off the bike. I’ve barely ridden the last two weeks. Several days I had to drive at rush hour, like a chump (shudder). But this gives me a chance to compare some health data from my Apple Watch.

There are three different days’ “activity rings” above. (Note these are not contiguous days.) We can ignore the inner (cyan) ring, this is the “stand” ring which is mostly meaningless. The middle (green) ring is the "exercise” ring, which measures somewhat nebulously “minutes of exercise” every day. My watch wants me to get 30min of whatever this is every day. The outer (red) ring is “movement,” which I think is estimated calories burned above a certain heart rate (probably 100-ish). Note that I’ve bumped up the target for this ring to 1200 calories/day.

The first two days are pretty typical weekdays for me.

The first (extra bike) is from a regular work day, but one in which I was able to squeeze in a little extra ride over Council Crest. The “exercise” (green) ring has spun around I think almost four full times, or about two hours of “exercise.”

The second day (lite bike) is a minimal-bike day. That’s just hoofing the kids to school, directly to work, then directly back to school and home again. I can’t close the “movement” (red) ring on such days, but I generally get about 900cal of extra movement. The “exercise” ring has spun around I think two or three times.

In fact, I usually close the “exercise” loop before I even get to work most days. I just kind of assumed that however my watch defines “exercise,” it must be really low-hanging. Like: anyone moving anywhere is doing “exercise.” But apparently not…

The third day (no bike) is like a glimpse into an alternate universe where I don’t have a bike. This is what a day is like when I drive the kids to school and drive to work, then reverse the process. In other words, probably like most days for most people I know. Somehow I’m still “moving” about 400 cal worth and doing 20min of “exercise,” but those minutes can’t possibly be valuable. I didn’t do anything on that day but walk to and from my car.