Calorie burn on the elliptical – Fitness Q & A
After a one-hour workout on the elliptical trainer, the machine’s readout says I’ve burned up to 950 calories. Is this accurate? … and more of your questions answered here.
Q: When I work out on the elliptical trainer at my gym for an hour; the machine tells me I have burned 850-950 calories. But when I enter this activity on Internet calorie counters, I’m told that I’m burning only 500-600 calories per hour. Just how accurate are the cardio machines?
A: “They can be anywhere from right on the money to 50 percent off,” says John Porcari, Ph.D., a cardio-machine researcher and professor in the department of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse. Machines that require you to enter your body weight tend to be more accurate than those that don’t, Porcari says. But even that feature does not ensure accuracy.
Treadmills are typically the most accurate of the cardio machines, says Porcari: They have been around the longest, so the equations used to estimate calorie burn at various speeds and inclines have been tested on more subjects. Ellipticals, a more-recent addition to the machine category, tend to offer less-precise calorie estimates. “Ellipticals can be off 20-30 percent, and tend to be off on the high side,” Porcari says.
Most women burn 500-650 calories after an hour of exercise on cardio machines, says Porcari. To burn 850-950 calories, he adds, “you’d have to be a fairly large woman going full-bore.”
Q: I just bought a jump-rope for cardio fitness. What’s the best surface to jump on?
A: The best surface is a hardwood floor, says Chicago trainer CC Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise. “The hardwood will have a little bit of give, and the smooth surface will prevent the rope from catching, which is a problem on carpet,” Cunningham adds. “Try to avoid concrete, slate or tile because these surfaces won’t absorb any of the impact and will just send the forces back up through your legs.” Potential problems from jumping on hard surfaces include foot pain, shin-splints or stress fractures.
If you want to jump outside, Cunningham says, try to find a surface designed for athletic activities, such as a running track. Grass won’t work because the rope will keep getting caught.
Whatever surface you choose, make sure you wear cross-training rather than running shoes. “When you jump rope, all the impact is going to be on the forefoot, and running shoes are designed for just the opposite, with all the shock absorption in the heel,” Cunningham says. Cross trainers tend to have more cushioning in the forefoot.
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