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

Apple Watch Difference between Move and Total Calories

The Apple Watch reporting is unique in that it shows both Move calories as well as 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 just go about doing your regular tasks. Did you know that you also burn calories when you are resting or simply in the idle state?

Just breathing in and breathing out burns calories!

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Move Calories vs Total Calories on Apple Watch

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

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

The Move calories on the other hand, are only calories that are associated with 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 that you see are the sum total of active calories and resting calories.

Calories burned in Idle state via Basal Metabolic Rate

When your body is in the idle state, it has a slower metabolism rate.This is called the “basal metabolic rate” or BMR. It’s the amount of energy required to maintain basic 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.

One reason why some fitness experts suggest that you incorporate some weight training into your fitness regimen is that 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 

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

Its easy to change the default Move goal on your new Apple Watch.

  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

By periodically increasing the move goal, you tend to get more steps accounted for on your Apple Watch and over time these small increments help you increase your fitness levels, which you can easily 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 include 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 watchThe easiest way to do this is via opening the Watch app on your paired iPhone

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

This information will be used by your Apple Watch 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 make sure that it is synced up with the Apple Watch in order to report accurate calories, you may want to explore getting a smart weight scale that is compliant with Apple Health.

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

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I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. 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&fitness-tech evolution and keep 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 or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.



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