You’ve been going pretty hard on the treadmill for almost an hour now. As the sweat pours off of you, you glance downward to see the number you hope to read. Currently, it shows 300 calories have been burned. Is the number on the treadmill accurate? Surprisingly, many experts are now saying that there’s a very good chance it is, in fact, incorrect.
Burning Calories at the Gym: Finding the Real Numbers
Most exercise machines are designed so that they will give you the number of calories you have burned during your workout. The important thing to remember is that this number is merely an estimate and cannot be taken as the absolute number of calories that you have expended. In fact, Pete McCall, MS, is an exercise physiologist employed by the American Council on Exercise who has stated that there is most likely a margin of error up to 10% on the displays that you frequently see on exercise machines in gyms and at home.
See the numbers that are displayed typically on an exercise machine such as stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines, stair climbers, and many others are estimates that a relatively accurate as they are based on a unit known as metabolic equivalents or METs. What is a MET? Basically, a MET is simply the amount of oxygen that your body is using during any activity.
McCall explains that the value of a MET is that it is 3.5 mL of oxygen per kg of the body per minute. This is the typical amount of oxygen that your body requires to function while sitting at rest. When you are working harder, exercising, or otherwise engaging in physical activity, your body is going to consume more METs.
The machines that you are using either at the gym or in your home takes the number of METs required to complete an exercise, as well as your body weight if entered, to provide you with an estimate of approximately how many calories you have expended. McCall also stated that these machines are much more accurate if you have to provide your age and weight.
If you are truly attempting to drop those extra pounds, then you are definitely going to want to find out the true exact number of calories that you have burned off during any workout you have completed.
McCall stated that while exercise equipment provides a decent estimate of how many calories have been burned, it can never be as accurate as the calorie counts provided by heart rate monitors.
Thanks to modern technology, heart rate monitors now allow you to input your age and resting heart rate. These monitors then use that base data to give you a much more accurate estimate of calories burned throughout the day as well as during any activities such as working out.
Burning Calories at the Gym: Getting the Most Out Of Your Workouts
When you are trying to figure out which machine is going to give you the best calorie burn for your time, donít rely on the calorie estimates provided by the machines. If you are wanting to burn more calories, all you have to do is get a harder workout going. With that said, the best way to figure out which piece of gym equipment is going to help you burn more calories for your time is to simply determine how hard you are able to work on the machine. For example, if you canít sustain a long workout on a recumbent bike, switch to the treadmill instead.
While calorie counters on gym equipment can give you rough guidelines as to how many calories you are burning, the best way to maximize your weight loss efforts is to find a piece of gym equipment you enjoy using and use it as frequently as possible.