The truth about cardio machine displays
Climbing off your favorite cardio machine, with sweat stinging your eyes, you squint
to read the little red numbers summarizing your workout. But what really stings is that
you may not be able to believe the numbers you're seeing.
Josh Whalen, a fitness specialist at Virtua's Rohrer Center for HealthFitness advises
the machine read-outs should be used only as a guideline. "Cardio machine calorie
displays are usually designed to provide the most accurate readings for people with
extremely lean muscle mass - those who burn the most calories," explains Whalen.
"People with more of a mid-range or higher body fat could burn a lot fewer calories."
Still, the read-outs do serve a purpose. Exercising on the same machine can help you
chart your calorie-burn progress from workout to workout. "While the number may
not reflect what you actually burned, an increase in the number over time means your
workouts are becoming more effective," says Whalen.
More accurate options
Whalen recommends a heart monitor for the most accurate data on calories burned
and other critical numbers such as heart rate. "About 30 percent of our members
work out regularly wearing a heart monitor," he says. "We encourage our members
to follow very specific fitness goals, and the monitors help by providing the most
precise measurements of progress."
The monitors work simply by entering information such as age, weight, gender
and resting heart rate. The small device, which is worn across the chest, accurately
determines how many calories have been burned.
Donna Coburn finds her heart rate monitor extremely valuable: "With my trainer's
help, I was able to lose 50 pounds. I knew I was getting the weight off safely, and it
was motivating to have an accurate picture of how many calories I was really burning."
What's more, Coburn can believe what she's seeing.