Raw data

Well – I’m a bit unsure what to do now. After yesterday’s post about walking from Land’s End to John o Groats I’ve exported and have been looking at the data stored on my iPhone. It goes back to 2014 (!) when Apple introduced the motion co-processor into its phones and started publicising HealthKit. This app quietly saves any info that the phone or watch collects about activity or health data.

It details (amongst MANY other things) the distance I’ve walked and the number of steps I’ve taken since April.

I’m pretty sure I don’t completely trust it though.

When I’m walking I’ve confidence in Apple Watch and the iPhone’s combined ability to track me with GPS and count my steps (with an acceptable margin of error). However some days I’ve noticed that the total continues to creep up more than I think it should when I’m just moving around my house in the morning or evening, after or before my daily exercise. I’m pretty familiar now with how it feels to walk a mile and I’m sure that I’d recognise it if I did one accidentally. I don’t think I walk a mile around my house on any given day.

The figures I have from April till now therefore don’t seem to show an absolutely 100% accurate distance travelled.

However the watch and phone are tracking ALL movement, and I probably have ‘hidden’ exercise in the background. It’s counting everything I do from the moment I put it on in the morning until the moment I take it off. Every time I make a cup of tea, or walk up the stairs, stand up, sit down and go to the loo. It records it all.

Maybe I don’t feel it because it’s not continuous effort. Maybe I am (and was) doing more than I thought?

So how do I use this? Is there still a point to a goal like the one I made yesterday if I can’t accurately measure it?

Maybe accuracy isn’t the point though. Maybe since I’m walking in a ‘virtual’ trip to from one end of the country to another maybe it doesn’t have to be 100% accurate – just as close as I can get it.

Am I being too picky?

I’m undecided what to do. I am really not sure how best to manipulate the data to get an absolutely HONEST account of the distance I walk during a day, and I don’t want to feel that I’ve misled anyone reading my posts or lied about my efforts.

One thing the data does show is an undeniable overall progression in my fitness. What I can say with authority is that I see a big month on month increase in activity. A huge one in fact.

The raw data (take it how you will) is this:


For those of you that like graphs….


I’m going to open this up to people reading and ask for comments.

Whether you follow on Twitter, Facebook or WordPress – (if you have any thoughts either way) please put your opinion where you prefer and I’ll read and consider it.

Do you think I should:

  1. Keep the goal and use the approximate data I’m getting to reach my destination?
  2. Find another way to do this?
  3. Find another goal?

For that matter if anyone knows of another way to harvest and interpret historical data with Apple Watch/iOS I’d love to hear it.

One thing that won’t change however is how much I enjoy moving from A to B again. Today started with a walk to the Saxon Mill, then a stroll with some friends to St James the Great. That turned into a coffee at the Shire Retail Park, and then a gentle walk home along the canal and River Avon.

I spent an hour in a place I’d never been before, sitting on a bench and just staring at this shaded view.


I shouldn’t really worry too much about accuracy I guess – as long as I’m continually making progress – which I feel I am.

Anyway internet – let me know what you think please 🙂




15 thoughts on “Raw data

  1. Personally I think as long as you are comparing like with like for you and you alone it doesn’t matter so much what the absolute values of the data are only whether they are going up, down or staying the same. If it did bother you is there any way of manually “starting” the watch when you know you are about to exercise? Also have you had any “exercise-free” days in the house lately? And if so can you get the data for just that day to see how “far” it does think you walk around the house??

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried to search for exercise free days (going by my blog for what I did or didn’t do) and some days show almost no activity, while others show over a mile. I can’t really say with any degree of certainty what kind of a percentage I should judge to be misleading, or whether as it’s all movement and exercise its all relevant.

      I think you’re probably right though with regard to comparing like for like – I’m seeing genuine progression and the steps and miles are clearly going up.

      Eventually I expect this will plateau though – I will have to (at that point) start including the exercise minutes stat to see how I’m going. You’d be in heaven. There are so many data points its bewildering!


      • Believe me, Strava never leaves me wanting for more data points regarding my exercise efforts 😀

        Does the Apple Watch give you timed data during the data in the raw output? You could see where/when it thinks the distance has been achieved and correlate to whether you are at home or not??

        Liked by 1 person

      • You can set ‘workouts’ – although I’ve never done this as previously my walking hasn’t been continuous, and I’ve had to stop a lot.

        I also have a 3rd party phone app called walk meter that reports to health kit when I use it – but it has a habit of stopping altogether if I stop to take a photo or change my music. It’s not a great aid to the intrepid blogger…

        It wasn’t until the other week after a walk around the park with a lady from SW that I realised just how much I could interrogate the native data. I’ve barely scratched the surface with what the kit in my pocket and on my wrist is capable of.

        When I bought it I had no intention at all to use it for exercise – and now it’s becoming a bit addictive 🙂


  2. I have a bit fit. My bit fit and I have a difficult relationship, mainly as it thinks I’m a lazy cow and I think it’s totally inaccurate! I agree with the fact that most days I don’t move a great deal, particularly as I commute to my home office and sit on my backside all day☺. What I don’t like is the fact that it seems to record me typing at 200 steps per hour, some 20 odd steps are involved when going to loo (once in bathroom, not getting there! ) tying shoe laces is another 10 steps 🙄

    What I have come to realise is that it is useful for comparison day by day, so I now take less notice of actual number of steps but how each day compares so my ‘vote’ is the same as Bob’s.. that you continue to use it to compare how much more you’re moving day by day.

    When I’m going for a walk/bike ride I use Map My Walk/Strava so I can see exactly how much proper exercise I’ve done rather than how many emails I’ve typed or how many animated conversations I’ve had thru the date.

    Maybe for your cross-country trek you could use data from a walking app so you know you are truly walking the length of the Nation! Whichever way you choose, you’ll still be inspiring a lot of people.

    GO Davey GO….can I be a virtual cheerleader ? 🙌🙅🙆 Now, where’s me pom poms? X

    Liked by 1 person

    • It looks like we have a similar ‘problem’ lol. I’m glad you say your Fitbit gives you the same kind of output. I’d been considering looking at alternatives but you’ve reassured me that I’d probably have the same problem elsewhere.

      As far as the walking app goes – they’re great until they’re not. I use the phone a lot for taking photos and blogging while I’m out (which nails the battery). The walking apps are also pretty hungry when it comes to power and don’t like it when I stop to take photo – and in particular video. They stop altogether and sometimes crash completely.

      Apple Watch ‘workouts’ might be the way forward as I can stop and start those – however I’m not sure how they record the data – and whether in the HealthKit app it’s all lumped in with a cumulative total.

      To be honest apple have made it a complete PITA to export this stuff and use it.

      I suspect the intention is to make it unfriendly enough that you’ll need a 3rd party app to interrogate it. In fact I needed TWO. 😡


  3. Honestly, you tend to move a lot more around the house than you think, precisely because you said you take breaks. It doesn’t mean you should discard those steps or the calories you burn with them. Honestly, I have had days when I was giving the house a spring cleaning and I took over 5000 steps. Yep, inside my tiny house. And they till count, because it means you get off your bum. 🙂 And we should be proud of every moment we move our bumsies. So I would go with option 1: keep the goal and go with whatever you’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Go Old School Dave and count those steps manually (out loud or in your head). If you lose count then you have to start again from the last time you ‘saved’ your data (wrote in down). I guarantee that this way, you’ll meet your weight goal a lot quicker but perhaps not your virtual Lands to Groats walk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha – the only problem is that after years of relying on technology I’m incapable of counting past the number of fingers and toes I have available. I’ve found walking barefoot to be problematic so I’m stuck at 10.


  5. Pingback: The Dalek and The Electric – daveywankenobie

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