If you’re working out on a treadmill primarily to lose weight, knowing how many calories you’re burning can be an important actor in your workout success.

The digital readout on your treadmill may be a valuable tool in counting those calories, but if it’s inaccurate, it may have the exact opposite effect. For instance, if a 160 pound (72 kg) woman with 35 percent body fat and a 160 pound woman with 20 percent body fat are both running at the same pace, the treadmill will display the same amount of calories burned. However, the woman with the lower body fat and more muscle mass is actually burning more calories.

Treadmills also don’t take your form and running efficiency into account. New runners will usually burn more calories than more experienced runners running the same pace and distance. Why? The beginner’s inefficient side to side movement and bouncing up and down expends more energy than the experienced runner’s efficient stride. So if a newbie runner and an experienced runner are going through the same speed (assuming the same body fat percentage), the beginner may actually be burning more calories than the experienced runner. Some reports also suggest that treadmills and other cardio machines actually overestimate calories burned by up 15 to 20 percent.

If you typically walk on the treadmill at a specific speed, determine your calorie burn online and keep this information in your head as you exercise.

The best thing that you can do to avoid falling into the trap of thinking you burned more than you did is simply be aware of the inaccuracy.

A treadmill calorie counter is good enough for giving you rough estimates of how many calories you’re burning during your treadmill workouts. While a treadmill provides excellent cardio workouts, it may overestimate the actual number of burnt calories.

You may still use the readings of calories burned counters as a benchmark for your fitness routine. However, if you are targeting to reduce a fixed number of calories and use this reading to consume additional calories, you may end up with unwanted weight gain.

Thus, it’s better to consider the treadmill calorie counter readings by subtracting at least 20% from the counter’s displayed number.


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