No calorie burn from non-exercise activity

Last Saturday I burned 883 gross calories during my run. This was followed by nearly four hours of yard work, nothing too overly strenuous, but my HR looks to have remained around the same level as it does when I'm walking at a moderate pace. At the end of the day I had burned 862 active calories, i.e. my non-exercise activity apparently didn't quite burn enough calories to cover the RMR gap there.

Why would the watch almost entirely ignore the non-recorded activity? When I actually record a walk, my watch says I burn about 270-280 kcal per hour (which is a woeful overestimation for someone my size; I can't actually be burning much more than 200 kcal, but that's beside the point). So would it not follow that if I remained at around the same HR level for four hours, that would be the same as actually taking a four-hour walk? Shouldn't it have accounted for 1,000+ kcal according to the watch?

I rely on my watch for an estimate for my daily calorie burn since I count calories. I don't want to end up undernourishing myself.

  • So glad I found this! There is an important aspect I feel that can add to the OP scenario and that is of an apparent 'ceiling'  on HR display on Garmin watches when NOT recording an activity.

    I use an indoor cycling app with my Tacx Turbo trainer. All of my recorded data along with that from my Garmin HR belt gets recorded in the app (RGT). For me there is no need to use the watch to record the activity as all metrics are covered by other devices. HOWEVER  when my Heart Rate is up (say) at 150 BPM - as verified by manual radial pulse measurement, then the HR displayed on my Vivoactive 4 will only be showing 80 to 100 BPM. If I start an  indoor activity on my watch, then the displayed HR on the watch comes up to the full 150 BPM. So as suggested in earlier comments, activities such as running for a bus, cleaning the car, mowing the lawn etc - all of which can raise the HR to above (say) 120BPM don't seem to be accounted for in the Daily Active calorie count.

    I have 'Auto Activity Start' turned off  (Move IQ)  but when on an outdoor bike ride, the watch appears to detect (but does not start an activity because I don't want it to, as it's being recorded on my Garmin Edge 1000)  that you might be on an activity and the Heart Rate can be seen to be responding over the normal 'uncapped' range matching that from my HR belt. Under those circumstances (on a ride outdoors) the Active Calories ARE accounted for by the watch.

    An indoor cycle activity can easily burn 1000 + calories and it simply doesn't get accounted for on the calorie count unless you record it as an activity, one which is already being recorded on other Garmin equipment!

    Since becoming aware of this anomaly I have spoken to many Garmin Watch users that were either totally oblivious to this or simply thought their watches were faulty. Some of them (including ME) had received multiple watch exchanges under warranty due to this - so even Garmin 1st Line Support thought the watched were not working as expected. SOme users had discussed the way the watch was behaving with friends and were met with disbelief as if they were making it up!

    We are fitness conscious consumers and not product designers/sports scientist. Common sense suggests that all calories, regardless of the acronym used for them, should be accounted for on the watch totals for the day.  At the very least customers expectations are not being met or managed and the manuals certainly fail to explain this. While aspects of this are alluded to in the links provided earlier here, they are not easy to find. It's like it's some sort of secret code that only those ' in the know' will ever see. These are my open and honest opinions as a LONG term Garmin user (but only recently with Garmin Wearable.

    I've had a case open on this with Garmin for months and have frequently been promised updates and explanations - sadly they have not been forthcoming :-( .

  • The Daily Activity portion doesn't alter, or at least didn't in this case, so it sounds like the Garmin isn't going to display the difference while I'm out strolling around the shops, cleaning the garage, or mowing. I'll be burning more calories than I would if I were sitting down watching TV.

  • There is a difference between Activity Calories, and Active Calories. While you indeed need to record an activity to have the Calories listed for that concerned activity, there is no need for recording any activity to have the Active Calories counted. The watch logs Active Calories any time throughout the day, when your immediate HR is higher than the avg. Resting HR. And the higher the HR, the more Active Calories get logged.

    In other words, you will get Active Calories even for strolling around the shops or cleaning the garage (unless your HR does not rise above the avg. Resting HR, during that time)!

    BTW, in contrary to what was advised here earlier, in this 2 years old thread, the Activity Class no more plays a role at newer Garmin devices. See it mentioned in the document What Is the Activity Class Measurement in Garmin Connect? | Garmin Customer Support

    Newer Garmin devices including any watch featuring activity tracking do not use activity class.