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Heart rate monitors and calorie counts

Alright, there seems to be a raging debate about calorie counts given by machines vs. heart-rate monitors. Here's what I could dig up:

4. How accurate is the calorie counter, a feature in some of the new heart rate monitors?

Measuring calories burned when exercising can be accurate if you have access to sophisticated testing equipment. Otherwise, all caloric expenditure information that you read off of a heart monitor or an exercise machine like a treadmill or indoor bike, are estimates of calories spent and usually not very accurate. Polar, the Finnish company that manufacturers excellent heart rate monitors decided to test their monitors against the best laboratory equipment made. There goal was to determine the accuracy of using a Polar heart monitor and therefore, the value of looking at caloric expenditure using their monitor. In research that they sponsored, they took their Polar SmartEdge for a road test against a Cosmed (K4, Italy) that accurately measures energy costs when exercising. “In two thirds of the subjects, the difference between the values of the two pieces of apparatus was less than 15% during cycling and walking, which was considered satisfactory”. Their assessment that an error of less than 15% is satisfactory is probably the most accurate of all – it’s satisfactory.

Also, there is some gadget called "BioTrainer" which supposedly can also measure your calorie expenditures.


Wed. May 24, 11:54pm

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this is part of why I do not like the calorie in/calorie out approach to wieghloss. Too difficult to accuratley measure the caloric intake or expenditure, but especially the expenditure. Wieght, age, level of fitness, hormonal balance, gender, muscle mass, all kinds of things have to be taken into account to determine how many calories are burned. And while bmr may assist, a) few people take the effort to be that accurate, b) it's still just an approximate.

Thursday, May 25, 2006, 12:13 AM

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Well, for some, watching the calories being burned is motivational, although exercise should be about feeling healthy and not just calories burned.

Also, it can still be a good gauge of helping strengthen your heart to keep the BPM in a certain range. And, you know when you aren't working hard enough - I thought walking was all about them same, but sometimes a stroll can be pretty worthless as far as heart-pumping exercise (but great for fresh air!)

Thursday, May 25, 2006, 7:48 AM

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