Move Calories vs Total Calories on Apple Watch. Manage both and stay extra fit

Activity rings on Apple Watch

The Apple Watch reporting is unique in that it shows both Move calories and your Total calories on the same screen. We explain move calories vs. total calories on the Apple Watch and leave you with tips to increase the accuracy of your calories and more.

You burn calories when you exercise, move about, and go about doing your regular tasks. Did you know that you also burn calories when resting or simply idle?

Just breathing in and breathing out burns calories!

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Move Calories vs. Total Calories on Apple Watch

The Total calories you see on your Apple Watch are the total of all the calories you have burned. It includes calories consumed while walking or exercising and calories consumed when you were in the rest state.

Move vs total calories on Apple Watch
Active calories are the move calories

On the other hand, the Move calories are only calories associated with an activity. These are energy calories that were burned when you were walking around or ‘moving’ around.

Simply put, reported move calories on the Apple Watch are Active calories, and the total calories you see are the sum total of active calories and resting calories.

Calories burned in an Idle state via Basal Metabolic Rate

When your body is idle, it has a slower metabolism rate.

This is called the “basal metabolic rate” or BMR. It’s the energy required to maintain essential bodily functions while at rest, such as regulating body temperature, keeping the heart beating, and breathing.

A person’s BMR varies over time; it may speed up when you’re sick or if you’ve added muscle mass, or it may slow down with age or when you’re losing weight.

Some fitness experts suggest incorporating some weight training into your fitness regimen because your body keeps burning higher calories even after you have completed your exercise. 

Strength training adds muscle mass and can speed up your Basal metabolic rate.

Increase Apple Watch Total Calories without adding new exercise routines

If you’re serious about burning more calories without working out, change your daily routine to include more physical activity. Some examples include:

  • Take regular breaks from your desk at work to stretch and walk around
  • During calls, lift light weights or pace around
  • Walk more briskly than your usual pace
  • the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot, so you have farther to walk to your destination

Change your daily Move Goal on your Apple Watch regularly 

You can increase your calorie expenditure by regularly changing the daily ‘Move’ goal on your Apple Watch. One trick I use is always to increase my Move goal by at least 10% every time I update my Apple Watch with a new watchOS. This way, it keeps things more interesting.

Changing the default Move goal on your new Apple Watch is easy.

  1. Open the Activity app on your Apple Watch
  2. Swipe up from the bottom and tap on ‘Change Goals’ at the very bottom.Change Move calorie goal on Apple Watch
  3. Here, tap to increase or decrease the number of active caloriesIncrease Apple watch move calories
  4. Tap Next
  5. Make changes on the next screen for Exercise and Stand goal if you want
  6. Tap OK

You tend to get more steps accounted for on your Apple Watch by periodically increasing the move goal.

Over time, these small increments help you improve your fitness levels, which you can quickly check with the Apple Watch Six-minute walking test scores. (a hidden metric that provides a wholesome opinion of your overall fitness).

Manage the accuracy of reported calories on your Apple Watch  

The total calories and move calories reported by Apple Watch are very accurate, but their accuracy is highly dependent on the accuracy of the inputs that you provide. This includes your age, sex, height, and, most importantly, your weight.

New Apple Watch users wishing to get accurate Calorie readings should customize the settings to reflect the information accurately.Enter Age,sex,height for Apple watch The easiest way to do this is by opening the Watch app on your paired iPhone.

  • Tap on ‘Health’
  • Tap on the health Details  
  • Add your details like Age, Height, and weight
  • Tap Done

Your Apple Watch uses this information to calculate all the burned calories. An affordable digital smart scale will do.

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If you are pursuing a weight loss program and want to closely monitor your weight and ensure that it is synced up with the Apple Watch to report accurate calories, you may want to explore getting a smart weight scale compliant with Apple Health.

We hope you enjoyed this short article about understanding and managing calorie-related information on your Apple Watch. Please let us know if you have any questions or want to share a tip.

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Sudz Niel Kar
I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products, have a BS in Computer Science and an MBA specializing in emerging tech, and owned the popular site AppleToolBox. In my day job, I advise Fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health and fitness-tech evolution and keeping a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships, and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch Ultra or Samsung Galaxy Watch and closely monitor my HRV and other recovery metrics.


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