Muscle & Fitness
Treadmill Calorie Fitness Workout Image Credit: Muscle & Fitness
Treadmill Calorie Fitness Workout Image Credit: Muscle & Fitness

Are Treadmill Calorie Counters Accurate?

There’s a lot more to it than just numbers on a screen.

Mark Lelinwalla

While running on the treadmill, take your eyes off the television for a moment and peer down at the calorie counter. Ever wonder how accurate those things really are? Well, they’re not as accurate as they should be, according to Amanda Basham, an iFit trainer who conducts online fitness sessions using a NordicTrack treadmill.

“There are definitely some inaccuracies with those,” Basham says about the bulk of treadmills’ calorie counters. “The treadmills base the calorie burn on height and weight, but they don’t factor in muscle mass. So, if two people of the same weight but different body-fat percentage run at the same speed, then it will say they’re burning the same amount of calories.”

And that’s just not factual. “In reality, the person with less body fat would be burning more calories because muscle mass requires more energy,” Basham explains.

Calorie counters are supposed to use your weight as a foundation for tracking the amount of calories you’re burning during your run. The problem with that is not all treadmills ask for your weight, using an automatic go-to weight instead. In addition, the accuracy of many treadmills’ calorie counters is further thrown askew when people grip onto and lean on the machines’ handrails. Basham also points out that calorie counters don’t take someone’s fitness level into consideration.

“Someone who is more fit wi

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