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I'm not great about setting aside time to exercise, but I am definitely a data nerd and just discovered my iPhone SE has a built in ability to track steps (pedometer) and other things. Cool! I also like to get in some stationary bike time while watching TV, listening to a podcast, etc. I do not have an Apple Watch.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Health app can't actually track anything beyond steps and "flights" on its own. It has no idea when I'm on the exercise bike, and in fact is crediting me with steps instead. This seems very odd since years ago Apple publicly claimed that the Health app would automatically know the difference between walking, cycling, etc. and track accordingly.

I found many people complaining about this in forums and the only "solution" I've read is to install a 3rd party app such as iBiker. I did so, but have also found that that app can't track anything meaningful on its own either! It will track duration of ride, but without additional sensors it has no way to track anything more detailed. So basically it's pretty much as useful as a stop watch.

So my questions are:

  1. Is it possible to track exercise bike and other activity aside from steps, with an iPhone SE without the addition of 3rd party hard/software?

    • If yes, then how?
    • If no, what is the simplest/cheapest way to automatically track exercise bike activity?
  2. Bonus question: Is it possible to get the Health app to stop counting exercise bike activity as steps?

  3. Bonus #2: How often does the Health app actually update the data on its dashboard? So far it seems fairly random/inconsistent.
  • It may “know” the difference between walking, cycling and track if you are walking and your location position changes, same for cycling ie out on the road etc and the track again location but sitting on a stationary exercise bike ... unless you put the watch around your ankle and see what that does.... – Solar Mike Feb 10 '18 at 21:09
  • There is no watch, as stated in the question I don't have an Apple Watch. – Jonathan van Clute Feb 10 '18 at 21:10
  • I was addressing your second paragraph mainly... – Solar Mike Feb 10 '18 at 21:11
  • Oh I see. My understanding was that the claim by Apple was not of the Watch in specific, but the iPhone in general. Regardless it doesn't seem to work in my scenario. =( – Jonathan van Clute Feb 10 '18 at 21:12
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There is a chart I found on the American Exercise Council...step conversion table...minutes of lots of activities at various levels of effort convert to so many steps per minute...such as stationary bike...I bike for 40 min at a time..( 2 programs that automatically change resistance)...this converts to 19 steps a minute of s bike activity....I initially Googled something like Step/Bike Conversion)

So, if you like that sort of thing (manually calculating) there are ways to do that without the Apple Watch or third party apps.

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    Thanks but this doesn't address what I was looking for (an automatic way to track activity). I ended up getting an Apple Watch and it's great. – Jonathan van Clute Aug 28 '18 at 18:45
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I would get either Strava app or CycleMeter (or RunMeter - they are the same except for the icon) if you don't want to get an Apple Watch and do want your information on your device. They all have the concept of "indoor workout" so that they can record a workout.

They work well with bluetooth sensors from Wahoo if you want cadence / speed / power measurements or estimations and your cycle doesn't have this capability to feed iOS (many are in development and even shipping). I use all three of the items above in combination. The Wahoo sensor feeds RunMeter which also reads heart rate from my Apple Watch and then feeds all the data into both health app and strava.

It's quite a setup and you could probably simplify things and just use iOS 11 and Apple Watch to get 90% of what I've assembled. With iOS 12, the workouts app is going to be even better on the watch and phone so you could do away with most of the gear I'm using and be very happy indeed with your cycle workouts measured.

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    Yeah I ended up getting an Apple Watch and it works great, I'm quite happy with it for what I want which is pretty basic. Appreciate the input though! – Jonathan van Clute Aug 29 '18 at 16:47

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