Trusting the Trackers: Are Calorie Counters Accurate?

By Meredith Sheldon

After running for 30 minutes and breaking a serious sweat, you may feel like you can conquer the world, especially when the treadmill reads 350 calories burned.

But are these numbers accurate? Here is an inside guide on how to track your calorie expenditure to know how much you are really burning.

Your heart knows best

Wear a heart rate monitor around your chest or on your wrist to get the best results.
Numbers on the treadmill or stair stepper don’t take into account all the factors that go into calorie counting like weight, heart rate, height and muscle mass.

Treadmills are a tease

Even if you enter your weight or height on the treadmill, the machine still doesn’t count all the necessary factors. But it does over count the calories. According to an article on, treadmills overestimate calorie expenditure by 15 to 20 percent. Don’t be too trusting with your treadmill tracking.

Stationary bikes are calorie-smart

According to an article in Shape, stationary bikes are the most accurate calorie-tracking cardio machines. These bikes overestimate expenditure by only 7 percent.

Changing your resistance

Whether you are on the bike or on the treadmill, you will burn more calories doing different intervals. Trackers on these cardio machines don’t factor in these differences. Challenge your heart rate and your muscles, but take the numbers on the machine with a grain of salt.

Nothing is more accurate than wearing a direct calorie monitor on your wrist or around your chest. No cardio machine is perfect, but they do provide guidelines to help you reach your fitness goals.


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