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Old 06-28-2006, 08:31 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Posts: 9,122

Default Are The Calorie Counters On Cardio Machines Accurate?

I've always heard (and believed) that the calorie counters on cardio machines read way too high - I mean, no way do I burn 800 calories an hour on the elliptical! I just came across an article at that confirms my suspicions - Burning calories is not an exact science:

More often than not, the machines will overestimate by as much as 30 percent, though an overestimation of 10 percent to 15 percent is more likely.

The article suggests taking the following steps to correct the inaccuracies:

To correct for the inaccuracies, try the following tips:
  • Enter a body weight that is lower than your actual weight.
  • Try switching machines so your muscles avoid becoming conditioned to one. When you switch between different machines, the change in motion and the muscles you use will force you to work harder, helping you burn more calories.
  • Add an extra five minutes to your exercise session, but without the assumption that you'll burn more calories.
  • When using weight-bearing equipment, don't let the handles support your body weight for you -- they are intended to assist with balance only.
  • Try to concentrate on how hard you're working and sweating rather than on how many calories the machine shows you're burning. When you focus on being consistent and increasing your intensity, you'll be more successful at maintaining a regular exercise routine. This will maximize any cardiovascular and weight-loss benefits you'll achieve.
Personally, I just use the calorie counters as a way to judge progress day to day, but I know a lot of members here like to pin down their calories burned per day -- perhaps these tips will help make the machine read-outs a little more accurate.
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