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How accurate are the caloric expenditure read-outs on cardio machines?

Cardio machines typically will ask the user to put in their bodyweight, and from that number the machine comes up with an estimate in regards to calories expended in relation to variables such as speed, level, and grade. Unfortunately, bodyweight alone cannot give accurate measurements. In order to gain more accuracy in calorie expenditure the individuals' sex, body composition, and heart rate intensities must be addressed. Utilizing a heart rate monitor is a great strategy to implement when on cardio machines to gain a better understanding of where you are. The tool of choice for me is a Polar Heart Rate monitor. They offer a wide variety of monitors based on the individual’s goals and needs.

Most cardiovascular machines will provide estimates of how many calories you are burning during activity. However, your machine is not taking everything into account that it needs to.
  • If you do not input your weight into the machine, it will not be able to estimate calories based -n your body size.
  • Regardless of your weight, it does not take body composition into account, which affects your fitness level and caloric expenditure.
  • The machine has no way of knowing whether your current setting is an easy warm up or a challenging workout for you. Without knowing your personal intensity, it is a rough estimate at best.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.