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Should I believe the elliptical?

I am 5'2'' and 130 lbs. The brand new ellipticals at my brand new gym say I have burned 300 calories after 30 minutes on the elliptical. I use 10 incline, resistance high set to 9, low set to 2 on interval training.

My question is, for those of you who have been into fitness for a long time, does 300 calories sound reasonable? Should I believe that number? It seems high to me and I don't want to sabatoge myself.

Thank you in advance.

Tue. Jul 10, 10:30pm

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Probably not; I am about your size and in good shape, and I can only burn 10 calories a minute at a full-out sprint.

The closest you can get to accurate burn is with a heart-rate monitor, and even then it can be as much as 15 percent off.

If you feel like you are working hard (can talk in short bursts but not carry on a conversation), you may be burning 7-8 calories a minute. If you feel like you are doing about the same amount of work as a brisk walk, it's probably only about 5 calories a minute.

In the search bar on the bulletin board main page, type in "calories burned" for a ton of other threads on this topic. The link below may work, too.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007, 10:51 PM

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I agree with pp and I wouldn't put much stock in the number that a machine gives you. Do you use that number to make decisions about how you eat during the day? What do you do with the information? I'll be interested to hear what others say, but I generally don't pay attention to the calories burned output - at least I don't anymore. I used to factor that in - well, I burned 300 calories on the treadmill, so I have more calories to play with, etc. I never really got anywhere! Now I just make sure to challenge myself on the machine - make sure I'm not just going through the motions - and I pay more attention to the calories I put in vs. the calories I supposedly burn on the machines.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 8:50 AM

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don't believe the machines. But you can use this link to get a different estimate, and of course, a heart rate monitor will be the closest measurement.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 10:34 AM

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question for op

op- Do you enter in your weight on the elliptical? At my gym I know all the machines are programed for a person that weighs 150 pounds. It might be that your elliptical is programed the same way. Because it would be really hard to burn 300 calories in a half an hour if you only weigh 130 pounds....I weigh 155 and it takes me a half hour to burn 300 calories on a particular elliptical machine at the gym- and I really feel like I am giving it everything I've got. The best thing to do might be to buy a heart rate monitor- the polar brand- you have to enter in all your height/weight info and it will calculate the number of calories burned based on your heart rate.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 3:39 PM

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OP here...

Yes I enter my weight and my age, that's all it asks me. And yes it does affect how I eat during the day. I have 1,200 net calories a day, if the machine says I burned 300 calories, I will eat those 300 calories. I don't want to go above or below my 1,200 by very much.

So how can I get the most accurate measurement? I am willing to spend some money to get something more accurate.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 8:05 PM

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Heart-rate monitor. I use the Polar F6. It gives me a read on the basics heart rate, calories burned, exercise time. Also tells if you are in your target "heart-rate zone." I got it for $80 at my sporting good store. They have other models too.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 8:29 PM

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OP again

Well I thought I would try another machine, to see if it gave me a different number. It's not an elliptical, but almost. And it's very fancy shmancy and new so I thought it might be more accurate... gave me almost the same number after 30 minutes, about 50 calories higher but it was a little bit more of a tough work out. So I'm thinking it's accurate.

Thanks for the responses!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 10:08 PM

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Here's a link to a site that has a specific calculator for the elliptical, and other activities. (

Click on "Precor EFX 546 Elliptical Calculator" in the calculators section. You can put in your strides per minute and resistance level.

I bet you are burning about 200 calories max. If you put in 120 strides per minute, and resistance of 6 (average of your interval number listed above), you get 198 calories in 30 minutes. To burn 300, you'd have to be at resistance of 9 and 170 strides per minute for the WHOLE time.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007, 11:29 PM

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i used the link 11:29 put and it told me if i biked for 1 hour for 12 miles i would only burn 29 calories!!! is this right???

Thursday, July 12, 2007, 7:06 AM

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What did you enter for your weight? I just entered "130 lbs" "1 hr" and "12 miles", and it gave 413 calories.

Thursday, July 12, 2007, 8:34 AM

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