Help! No Steps When I Cycle!
Although it seems obvious that the motion of cycling is completely different to that of walking, it can still concern Fitness Tracker users that they have expended energy and effort when cycling but have not been rewarded with “steps” towards their daily step target. But thinking logically, since no stepping has taken place there are no steps to allocate. Indeed, some trackers that have been set to track a cycling activity will ignore any accidental steps recorded during the duration of the exercise.
So how should cycling be handled. I have some thoughts below.
Cycling can take less energy than walking the same distance (that’s why we invented bikes after all, to make life easier), depending on the effort you put in. There's a handy comparison of calories burned by different activities here but be aware it is time (1 hour) based not distance.
There’s also an interesting comparison here of walking, running or cycling a fixed distance commute.
So trying to allocate steps to cycling if you have not expended the same amount of effort is like getting those steps more easily. Now you may be happy to reach your step goal, but those steps won't have done you as much good as “real” ones.
Can you, fool your tracker into thinking you are walking when you are cycling? Well it seems you can, you might try putting it in your sock, strapping it to your ankle or fixing it to your shoelaces. Sometimes just resting your arm with the tracker on your knee while you pedal will work.
Perhaps the best thing to do though, is to log your cycling as a separate activity (you should still be credited with calories burned etc), and still try to reach your step target with "real" steps. This way you will have been more active, burned more calories and will be closer to reaching your fitness goals.
I’ve tried to illustrate this in the chart below, if you are measuring steps whilst cycling, the trick is to make sure that you have expended at least the same effort as you would have had you walked to get the same steps, if you have, no problem. However, if you haven’t expended the same effort you could be undermining your efforts. Of course walking/running for 10k steps and then doing a cycle if you can is arguably the best place to be.