As the fitness tracker market has grown, there are some fitness apps and devices that have become known for their ability to track bike rides. Garmin and Strava are two favorites for outdoor devices and apps. Their accuracy and variety of stats are well-known in the cycling community. But what about indoor cycling? At IncentFit our users love spinning, but often find this doesn’t get picked up by their favorite wearable device. Based on our experience, we’ve decided to share more information on why this is, and what sort of device you should use to get the most out of your indoor cycling experience.
First, there are two main types of fitness trackers on the market. Trackers that depend on GPS and locations services to track your distance, and pedometers.
GPS trackers use global positioning satellites, WiFi and location services to figure out how far you’ve gone. There are many devices on the market that use this technology, most notably Garmin and TomTom devices. By picking up on nearby satellites your Garmin watch can infer where you are, and get data about how far you’ve traveled. It can also use time and duration to figure out your pace. Most smartwatches, including Apple Watch and Android Wear watches, make heavy use of location-based tracking.
Pedometers, like most Fitbits, are different. They use internal hardware, not satellites or the internet, to estimate how far you’ve walked. The movement of your arms, how far they swing, and how high off the ground they are can actually give your device enough information to figure out when you’ve walked a step! Based on your body movements, your pedometer can even distinguish when you’re lying down, sitting still, driving, or biking, from when you’re walking. While pedometers aren’t going to be as accurate as something that uses a GPS, they are pretty close.
But what about indoor cycling?
GPS trackers need location information. They are dependent on physical distance, versus the motion of your body. You need to travel forward for a GPS device to know you’ve cycled at all. This is the reason why wearing your GPS device, or using a GPS app just won’t pick up indoor cycling. When you cycle indoors, you haven’t gone anywhere! If you’re following along, you can probably guess what the answer to question is about how to track indoor cycling: a good pedometer. When you’re cycling indoors, you may not be moving forward, but you are physically doing what you do on an outdoor bike. That means that any pedometer that can track cycling, is going to work for you.
Our favorite device for indoor cycling is the Misfit. The Misfit Flash comes with a clip for your shoe and a special cycling app. If you don’t have a Misfit, that’s ok: just remember to wear your pedometer on your ankle when you cycle. The data won’t be perfect, but that way, you’ll get credit for steps.
Want to learn more about how to get rewarded for all those cycling miles and minutes? Contact our team here!