Treadmills are spectacular and can be great for exercising. However, they are not reliable in determining how many calories you burned. They are just a rough estimate. Some studies suggest that cardio machines overestimate the calories you burned by 15 to 20%. Yikes. There are many different factors that contribute to how much energy you burn during a workout. Sadly, treadmills do not take into consideration all the different factors. Here are three factors why treadmills are not accurate in estimating your calorie burn.
1. Percentage of fat
Your percentage of body fat is not calculated on treadmills. This makes a significant difference, because the less body fat you have the more calories you burn. In other words, the more muscular fit you are the more calories you will burn.
For example, if a 140-pound woman who has 30% body fat and 140-pound woman who has 25% body fat run at the same pace then the treadmill would show that they burned the same calories. This is not correct, because the lady with 25% body would burn more calories. In addition many treadmills are tested by big bulky men, so women are at a disadvantage.
2. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories you burn just for your body to function and live while resting. It is the energy you need for all your organs to do their job and for you to breathe. Everyone needs a unique amount of calories to maintain their weight and has a different BMR.
Treadmills have no way of knowing what your BMR is. Whatever number you see on the treadmill are the calories you burned during your workout as well as the calories you burned just to stay alive. This leads to an overestimation of the amount of energy you expended.
3. Workout Efficiency
The way in which your body moves during a workout is another factor that determines how many calories you burn. Treadmills definitely do not know how efficient and smooth you walk or run. The more efficient you are when exercising the less calories you burn. For example, if you do not run or walk as correctly as you should then you are using up more energy than you should. Do not be confused though.
Even though it is nice to burn more calories it is more important that you have proper form during treadmill workouts so you do not injure yourself. It will also help you workout longer because you are not wasting energy from improper movements.
Once again treadmills are not as accurate as you think and they should not be used as a way to track your calorie burn for the day. There are too many variables involved to get a correct estimation. A personal heart rate monitor is a better solution.