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Lurker, now Poster with treadmill question.

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Old 05-03-2013, 01:08 PM   #1
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Default Lurker, now Poster with treadmill question.

I began my real diet Jan 29 and have lost a total of 27 lbs (have put 3 on this week due to some really stressful things and PMS salt cravings)...with 70 to go to get to my "dream" weight of 128....or 48 to get where the Doc says would be perfectly acceptable weight for my age/height/build. We shall see just where I decide to call it good based on how I feel as I continue losing. Not in a rush to lose it...taking time and changing eating habits so it sticks. Weight comes off funny any way...get stuck bouncing around the same point a few days then a big drop then bounce around there then another drop...I am a daily weight checker and know some is water weight and that it doesnt come off how you expect it to immediatly based on Cal in/Cal out. And the whole toning thing seems to take longer to show the results than the loss.

Been mostly just doing a combo or what works LOL Got a fitbit in Jan which started me on the real track. Up till then I had lost about 13 pounds from my all time high just cutting out all fast food and daily soda's and latte's and sorta watching what I eat....but nothing serious.
I will be doing my works "On the Move" challenge in June (walk 12K steps per day for 8 weeks, or exercise 30 min a day...or combo of both) and am not particularly worried about that. Right now I am easily making a 12K step quota between work and adding treadmill time or eliptical in the evening if short steps.

But I'm curious about calories burned on a treadmill.
Is there anything behind the idea that you actually burn fewer calories on the treadmill than if you walk the same amount of time and same pace in your neighborhood?
Someone argued with me that because the belt is moving it does part of the work for you, where when you are walking on a sidewalk or track etc you do all the work.
Just for giggles I took a 50 min walk yesterday during lunch. Fitbit recorded 3.25 miles, 6682 steps and 321 calories. When I spend 55 minutes on the treadmill doing the "weight loss" program at level 3 I get right around the 300 calorie mark also on fitbit...however I dont think it takes into account the changing inclines and possibly the speed changes (changes between 3 MPH and 4 MPH, and incline changes between 4.0 and 0) And the 55 min on the treadmill clocks in 3 .84 miles.
So it looks like less Cal burned on the treadmill possibly? Walking slightly longer, going faster and further but right about the same calories?
Thoughts? Has anyone done a true comparison?
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:24 PM   #2
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I'm not an expert by any means. But I would think you burn more calories walking your neighborhood, though I would think the difference isn't really worth worrying about. My reasoning is, on a treadmill your walking is very smooth and consistent, even with the incine and speed changes. You really don't have to think about where you're stepping. On pavement, you are constantly changing your stride and steps, even unconsciously, because a road is never truly smooth, flat, or obstacle free; you have to step around rocks, holes, cracks, etc. It's sort of like the difference between free weights and weight machines, though not as dramatically different.

Congrats on your progress so far! I started a few days after you but you have an extra 10 pound loss on me so far. Keep up the great work!
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:38 PM   #3
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I don't think the calorie counters on treadmills or pedometers are accurate enough for you to do a "true" comparison, but I asked my son (he's a PT) this question a few weeks back. He said, in my case, I would burn more calories walking outside for a few reasons. First, the terrain where I am is a relatively rough (I'm in a very rural area and we don't have sidewalks). Second, there are quite a few steep hills in my neighborhood, and I tend not to put the treadmill up to maximum inclines (I suspect many of our hills are steeper than the treadmill max incline in any event). Third, I always hold onto the bars when I walk on a treadmill...I'm too nervous not holding on...and if you hold on you burn less calories than you would walking outside normally (since then you're using your whole body).

So, I guess it depends on how you use the treadmill (do you hold on like me, how much of an incline) and depends on what sort of terrain you would walk on outside (hilly/flat, smooth/rough, sand or gravel surface vs. paved, etc.). These are all of the factors that aren't properly measured by the calorie counter devices...so the best you can hope for with these devices is an estimate.

All that said, I prefer to walk outside when the weather's nice....when it's cold or raining, I use the treadmill.

Great progress to date...good for you!
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:39 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by KigerCat View Post
I began my real diet Jan 29 and have lost a total of 27 lbs. But I'm curious about calories burned on a treadmill. Is there anything behind the idea that you actually burn fewer calories on the treadmill than if you walk the same amount of time and same pace in your neighborhood? Someone argued with me that because the belt is moving it does part of the work for you, where when you are walking on a sidewalk or track etc you do all the work.
Congratulations, KigerCat on the 27 lb loss. That's wonderful!

You will get better answers than mine about the treadmill, I'm sure, just have to say, wow, never saw such precision in the calculations! I'm impressed you use your Fitbit (I don't have one) to calc the difference, because I've noticed treadmills can be so different in measuring mileage or calories - even the same brands in the same gym! But I think it's good to mix it up and do both - outside you get fresh air & have to change your stride for curbs or puddles, and I think that's a little better for the muscles than the repetitiveness of the treadmill. I have to constantly change the treadmill settings because I get so bored, but one advantage of the treadmill, you don't stop for cars, garage sales, or cute puppies!

Either way, it's great that you are exercising, and that's the important thing!

What plan are you following, food wise?

Good luck!
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:42 PM   #5
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Unless you're really long walks "for real" or on the treadmill it simply doesn't matter much.

Exercise is great for your health and highly reccomended but as far as how many calories you're burning whether it is 300 or 350 or 400 it really isn't significant.

This is a long winded way of saying I don't know.

Bear in mind your fitbit is great for helping you figure out how small movements during the day can make a big difference in total but as far as accuracy .... not so much unless you're lucky. Everything is based on a formula and like all formulas they apply to the average. You may be burning more or less than the fit bit tells you. Still - I'm a fan because you would never guess that just getting up and moving around every 15-20 minutes can make a big impact.
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:43 PM   #6
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On pavement, you are constantly changing your stride and steps, even unconsciously, because a road is never truly smooth, flat, or obstacle free; you have to step around rocks, holes, cracks, etc. It's sort of like the difference between free weights and weight machines, though not as dramatically different.

Forkeeps, What is the difference between free weights & machines?
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Old 05-03-2013, 01:53 PM   #7
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Forkeeps, What is the difference between free weights & machines?
I've always heard free weights give you a much better work out than machines, because you have full control of the weight and constantly have to make minute adjustments with all your muscles, not just the one isolated muscle.

I think some people can feel very strongly about this topic. Again though, as long as you are moving and working out at all, you are doing your body good.
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:44 PM   #8
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What plan are you following, food wise?

Good luck!
Not really following any true diet plan. Other than cutting out all the fast food and soda. I am eating more home cooked stuff, fresh veggies and fruit. Counting calories (weighing and measuring portions). When I seem to get stuck I find that if I do a couple days of high protein it seems to kick start again.
I also do little rewards...like every 5 lb I can have a Tully Mocha (just have to add it to the day Cal count, or spend extra time exercising). And at like the major milestones I can have an 8 oz Steak instead of a 3 oz chicken breast LOL.
I figured out fast that if I want something have it...but do so in moderation or the craving becomes an obsession and when I do crack I binge. But I also dont beat myself up if I go over cals one day...just set out to do better the next .
OH and the biggest thing is that just because the weight watcher and skinny cow fudge bars are 100 calories it doesnt mean I can eat the whol box LOL Was a huge You gotta eat it NOW cause tomorrow may not come eater when it came to ice cream and junk foods .... that was a real toughie to reprogram in, and for a long time I had to keep it all out of the house. Now that I am weighing and measuring not so much... the box of fudge bars last around a week now instead of 1 night LOL
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Old 05-03-2013, 03:10 PM   #9
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There are so many variables there is no way to know. While terrain could be "rougher" outside, can you keep a steady pace of say 3.5 MPH outside. Nope, but you do on a treadmill - you don't slow down unless you adjust the speed.

The difference is probably SO minimal it doesn't make a difference.

That being said, when I run on my treadmill I always incline it 2 degrees.

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Old 05-03-2013, 03:48 PM   #10
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I use the treadmill everyday - but I am not saying I'm an expert by any means. I do feel like you could burn more calories from walking outside, but you can burn just as much in the gym. With the gym you have the ability to make your incline higher, speed, etc etc. I walk at a 10% incline at about 3.0 speed. In 40 minutes I burn more than 300 calories, not including all the other machines I use or the other cardio I do in a workout. You can get ample calories out of a treadmill like you could outside. It's all in what you prefer.
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Old 05-03-2013, 06:01 PM   #11
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I only walk/run on a treadmill due to awful outdoor allergies...for example, I once ran a very small memorial part of a marathon (like just over a mile total) and had such bad asthma/allergies that I struggled to breathe all day even with an inhaler

Anyhow, I prefer treadmill because of the flat, stable tread and because I can set the pace/speed/incline and push my body to complete something before I crank it back down, whereas outdoors I would just slow down subconsciously instead...I think either one, outdoor or treadmill, can give you exactly how much you put into it and how you use it

and for me, while I watch what the treadmill tells me I burned in calories, and I mark it on my food journal, I know that it's just an estimate and could be vastly off mark and I don't let it trick me into thinking I can eat more because I burned xxx calories
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:31 PM   #12
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I would recommend forgetting about focusing on calories in / calories out... the body doesn't really work that way.

Focus on exercise / movements you enjoy... You'll be much more likely to stick with a regular exercise routine that way.

If it were me, I would always choose walking outside opposed to a treadmill. Walking outside also gives you the benefits of fresh air, sunshine and a sense of being free, which is all de-stressful...

The less stress your body is under, the more of the "fat burning" hormones are released :-)
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