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TOPIC: HRMs v. Exercise Equipment - Accuracy of Calories Burned?

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March 17, 2011 9:06 PM
Just got back from the gym, and wanted to share some learnings about the accuracy of calories burned using HRM's v. Exercise Equipment. I used my Puma HRM for the first time at the gym tonight and was surprised to see the difference in calories burned according to the HRM v. the calories burned displayed on some machines. The biggest difference came through using the Cybex Arc Trainer that reported 946 cals burned in 38 mins v. the HRM that reported only 508 cals burned in the same period. Both devices had my weight programmed in (297 on the HRM and 295 on the Arc), and when I checked my pulse on the Arc it was within a couple of bpm's of the HRM, so the only thing I can attribute the difference to is the constant monitoring of the HRM v. the intermittent monitoring on the machine. Since the pulse check on the Arc isn't constant, I have to assume that the cals burned calculation for the excercise equipment does not factor in pulse at all. However, when I used the LifeFitness treadmill and stepper, both machines automatically picked up my heart rate, and the bpm's were displayed on the machine. These 2 machines had cals burned calculations much closer to my HRM, which suggested that the constant heart rate monitoring was factored into the cals burned unlike the Cybex that used an estimated heart rate for its calculation. I guess my learnings here are two fold - 1. Use the HRM wherever possible for the most accurate cals burned calculations. 2. If you don't have an HRM, you have to factor in your fitness and discount the cals burned. In my case, though I weigh nearly 300 lbs, my resting heart rate is in the 50's, and I find I need to crank my effort up to get into the 120's - so, unfortunately the internal calculations used on many machines will exaggerate my cals burned. If anyone has any other insight on the subject, please share!
March 17, 2011 9:19 PM
I don't make it to the gym all that often since I started doing a home program, but that is interesting. See, today I had the HRM on while doing my housework (at a decent pace mind you), and it registered 500 cal's burned for the X amount of time that I had done it. When I put that into MFP's tracker it only listed 170, which of course I can change manually, but it got me to my HRM accurate?? So this is very helpful as far as I am concerned. Thanks for sharing!!
March 17, 2011 9:23 PM
My treadmill came with a Strap hrm Ive never not worn it and used the machines reading. I want to get another HRM maybe for my birthday when I plan to start some strength training, then i will see if there is a difference.
Interesting to see how many people find a difference
March 17, 2011 9:27 PM
I used a cybex arch trainer today.. i do level 10 cardio.. did it for 60 minutes.. said i burned 848 calories.. I didn't use my arms to push on the thing (today was a hardcore leg workout) but it seemed accurate to what i've done in the past. Idk how you can burn 946 in 38 mins.. I think that machine is a bit off. I would definitely go with the 508.
March 17, 2011 9:33 PM
settings were 65% resistance, level 3, however note my weight was entered at 295 lbs which would be the big difference in cals/min burned.
March 18, 2011 4:50 AM

I have been reading a lot of post recently and trying to do some internet research on the reality of how many calories are being burned as well.

I'm finding it all a little frustrating.

For the most part it seems the consensus is that the HRM is the most accurate way to tell. I must say I'm really disappointed. For several months now I’ve been in the gym feeling like I was really doing something. Now I feel like I have to work way harder for results.

Back to the drawing board!


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