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Calories calculated on heart rate monitor are lower

Does anyone else use their HRM to count calories burned? Do you find they are way off from the calories burned reading from the equipment you use, such as eliptical, treadmill, etc? I figure it's probably b/c the equipment is overcalculating, but the HRM is more accurate? Not sure though, but it's kind of frustrating that it's 100 calories less for a 30 minute workout.

By the way, I use a Polar F11

Tue. May 23, 6:33pm

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My HRM calculates the same way. I think the machine might calculate other things into the Cals burned: incline, speed, program used. Whereas your HRM only uses HR, Weight, Age and Gender, which may be more accurate as men and women burn calories differently. I go with the HRM simply cuz the lower count will make me work more. I suppose we all get our incentives in some form or another. :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 6:41 PM

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calorie counters on exercise machines are useless- some that factor body wieght aren't as terrible, but they're not designed to be accurate.

Fact is, calories burned depends on may more factors (age, muscle density, gender, wieght, etc) than a machine can take into account.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 6:54 PM

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I thought that the HRM's only calculate calories burned beyond your BMR. Is that not true? My husband was playing with it and it didn't start counting calories on him until he started working out, but he should always be burning some calories.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 7:01 PM

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I have a different question about HRM's. While I am weight lifting and exerting considerable energy to lift heavier weights, my heart rate does not generally go up (unless I'm working large muscle groups). But I can tell by how I'm breathing that I am exetring alot of energy. Since the HRM is tied to your heart rate, could you be burning more calories than it indicates? When I bench press, my pulse doesn't go up that much but I know I'm exerting ALOT of effort. Shouldn't that increase the caloric expenditure?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 7:33 PM

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cardio is generally referred to as "Cardio" because it's cardio respiratory activity. Your heart rate is the best indicator of the cardio respiratory work you're doing. Weightlifing is NOT cardio. So no, your heart rate will not show a great increase while doing non-cardio activity. Moreover, the point of lifting is not to burn calories- it's to build muscles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 8:19 PM

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Most HR monitors don't start counting calories until your heart rate has gone above 100. So, yes you are burning calories that it may not be counting, but it will not be many more than it's final number.

I'm with the poster who says go with the HR monitor number rather than the machines at the gym. Those can't be trusted.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 9:27 PM

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Answering 2 questions

The calories burned on any cardio equipment is complete bullsh*t - WAY overestimates the work.

About using your HRM while weight lifting - most manufacturers will tell you that HRMs are calibrated for running or cycling. Go to for a decent estimate for calories burned while weight lifting.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 10:04 PM

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your heart monitor is probably accurate, the cardio machines at the gym are wrong, some studies have found that these machines can overestimate the calories burned by up to 15%. that's a lot!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 11:17 PM

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A related question: are the heart rate monitors on any of these machines (ie. elliptical, bike) accurate compared to a separate heart rate monitor?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 12:40 AM

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this is horrible news - good job i upped my exercise time on the elliptical from 30 to 45 minutes. I guess i'm burning about as many calories in 45 minutes as i thought i was burning in 30! drat. ah well. good to know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 9:05 AM

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I just tried my HRM with an elliptical that had a monitor. At times, it was accurate, but if I moved my hands at all or let go of one of the sensors, it went way off. Also, it more than doubled the calories I burned, claiming I burned almost 400 calories in a half hour. That would be nearly impossible, unless I was flat out sprinting for the whole time.

One personal gauge that I use is intensity. I find that if I rate how hard I feel I am working on a scale of 1-10, that's about how many calories I am burning per minute. For example, walking at a moderate pace on the flat is about a 4 or 5 for intensity, and burns 4 or 5 calories per minute. Running uphill? That's intense - 10 calories per minute. Stretching? 1-2 calories per minute.

As for weight lifting - yes, it does feel intense while you lift, but it isn't training your heart as someone mentioned. Also, you aren't sustaining it like you would be if you were jogging or biking. There is a bit of rest, You can burn more calories by doing jumping jacks or running in place between sets to maximize your time.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 10:08 AM

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yeah, the heart rate monitors on the machines aren't accurate either. some are better than others but unless you wear a heart monitor and check each machine and make sure you are holding on properly each time, your readings can be totally off!

i've had machines completely malfunction and start displaying a random heartrate when I wasn't even holding on to the thing! haha!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006, 1:44 PM

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