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Are Cardio Machines Calorie Counts Accurate?

You Asked: Cardio Machine Accuracy?

Hey Fit,
I was wondering if you knew how accurate the 'Total Calories Burned' number is on cardio machines at the gym. I put my weight and age in when I start, but I just wanted to know if my total calories are being calculated right on a typical machine. Thanks!
— Kathy

Good question. To see my answer


The calories burned readout on cardio machines are not known for their accuracy. Some machines are even known to bump up the calorie readout by almost 25% (apparently the feel good factor keeps us using their machines). Furthermore, machines do not always take into consideration all the factors in individual fitness levels and the specificity of the exercise and they're not often re-calibrated after hitting the gym floor, so things can get off set with time. Basically you can (and should) use the calorie readout only as a guideline but not as the end-all-be-all of how many calories you've burned.

Learn from my mistakes. I used to always use this one elliptical machine in the gym because it always showed that I had burned a ton of calories compared to all the other machines. Then I got a heart rate monitor. My new gadget helped me realize that I was kidding myself thinking I was burning all those calories. If two machines show the same calories burned but one workout seems way easier than the other then remember your common sense! Unfortunately you've most likely burned less calories on the workout that felt easy.


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