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Calories lost on Exercise machines- Are the accurate ?

Im curious to know how accurate the calorie count on the exercise machines (Elliptical and/or Treadmill) actually are? They obviously have an algorithm keyed into them (based on exercise level, weight etc), but how accurate are they? Are they 10% off, 20% off or more. Can they be viewed more for trend purposes (calories losing over a period of time), or work equally well at an absolute level.

Thu. Jan 11, 11:05pm

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Good question

I actually read an article about this recently - I wish I could remember where. Anyway, the basic gist of it is that treadmills and stationary bikes, which have been around a long time, can be considered pretty accurate. Newer machines like ellipticals haven't been studied enough to be able to have definitive proof. The doctor who gave the interview said he believes that in general, ellipticals seriously overestimate the calories burned, and I tend to agree. When I do my cardio workouts, I push myself to the same extent whether I'm on the bike, the treadmill, or the elliptical - using resistance, speed and/or incline to get my heart rate to where it needs to be. In 30 minutes on either the treadmill or the bike, my calories burned generally fall around 200. On the elliptical, it shows about 350. I don't buy it.

Friday, January 12, 2007, 12:03 AM

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They are strictly an estimate and do not take into account your height, sex, body fat percentage (a person with lower body fat will burn more calories), age or fitness level. The elliptical I use takes into account your age and weight, but that's it. So you are probably burning less than you think (the amount I've read is 10-15%), but keep in mind that you will burn more throughout the day as your metabolism revs up to supply your muscles with hydration and nutrients so they can build back up. I take note of calories burned according to my machines since I am consistent with which ones I use I and track it with my calories consumed and my weight. Personally, I don't care if the number is off by some small factor as long as it's consistent.

Friday, January 12, 2007, 12:12 AM

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Great question, and great answers. I had never even thought of this before. i do not have any kind of machine to help me in my exercise, but this is still good to know.

excellent reminder about how new some exercisers are, and another good reminder about the metabolism staying revved

Friday, January 12, 2007, 9:41 AM

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Calorie-count trick:

Most treadmills are calibrated for guys, so the calorie count is not accurate for a woman. To be sure the treadmill isn't over-estimating your calorie burn, when you enter your weight into the machine, take five pounds off.--- After typing this I could find nothing on the web to support it. I know I read it somewhere.

I did find an article that discusses the inaccuracy of treadmills:

And the Prevention magazine link below, which is more positive. They say the new machines are more accurate than older equipment.


Friday, January 12, 2007, 10:24 AM

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Thanks for the article link. That pretty much makes sense.... i guess its important not to calculate your target weight loss, based on calories lost in could come in for a rude shock...

Friday, January 12, 2007, 12:12 PM

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