According to a recent article from a Professor in Wisconsin USA, calorie counting devices may only be 75% correct in their totals. Much loved by dieters and gym goers (mostly female), these machines tell you how many calories you’re burning whether you’re on an exercise bike, taking a brisk walk or using a Nintendo Wii. Some people even like to know how many calories they’re burning while sitting on the sofa! But how accurate are these beasties? And should you pay much attention to them?
Sadly, say the experts, it’s unlikely your particular device will be particularly accurate. True, they can get it right, but they can also be way out – up to 30% too high or too low in some cases. The problem is that everyone is different, it depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise, how many muscle groups you’re using at the same time, and so on - to get an accurate figure would mean being wired up to space age machinery in a special room, so is simply not practical for your average person.
The calorie counting machines that we all love so much are simply making a guess based on your weight, heart rate and how heavily you are breathing (your oxygen consumption). But even if your calorie counter starts off accurate, calories burned will alter as you get fitter, as your body will expend as little energy and burn as few calories as it possibly can; a survival trait left over from caveman days!
It stands to reason that the more the machine costs, the more accurate it is likely to be. Fitness company Life Fitness which supplies top range gym equipment has 38 cal counting programs on its machines, and the client enters their current weight, age and heart rate. More accurate than most, but the best indication of calories burned is also the simplest – how tight are your jeans?
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