Many people, especially women, seem to prefer using cardio machines at the gym as opposed to lifting weights.  Not only are the weight rooms sometimes intimidating, but the cardio machines give your feedback on how hard you worked out.  That sounds about right, right?  Well, I hate to burst your bubble but those machines are lying to you.  

Although they can guess about how many calories you’ve burned, they don’t know YOU.  They don’t know how hard your specific body is working and how many calories it has burned.  In order to get an accurate reading of how many calories YOU have burned, you would need to invest in a heart rate monitor/calorie counter watch.  It measures your heart rate to determine how hard your body is working.  Yes, you can use the monitors on the machines, but it doesn’t continuously monitor your heart.  It only works when (and if) you touch it.

Like many of you, cardio machines have been my friends and they have made me feel super proud of myself.  So imagine my heartbreak when I realized the drastic difference between what was displayed on the machine compared to my watch.  As an example, I ran a little over 4.5 miles.  My watch told me that I burned 446 calories (which is good) but the machine told me that I burned 691.  Whoa!  That’s a huge (245 calorie) difference.  If you count your calories, that’s more than six Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, more than two 100-calorie snack packs, a scoop of protein powder, or anything else you consume that’s about 250 calories.

The deceitful machines could be the reason that you’re not seeing as many results as you’ve expected.  Whatever calorie-counting app you use tells you that you should be a certain weight based on the calories you think you’ve burned and you just don’t see it.  If you are doing an hour of cardio a day for five days a week, that could be anywhere between 500-1000 calories that you assumed you lost and you really didn’t.  So if you’re serious about monitoring your calories, invest in a watch.  There are some really affordable, yet reliable, brands out there.  The one I have was only $40 and also includes a pedometer with a pace tracker.  Just do your research to find the one that suits your needs.

Heart Rate Monitor Watches

Please note that this article isn’t meant to deter you from using the machines.  It’s only here to help you get the most out of your fitness program.  You can still use the cardio machines, but use your watch so that the information is accurate.

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