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SCRAGNX82 Posts: 6
3/18/14 5:59 P

Thanks all for your thoughts; it will be much easier to plan accordingly knowing how many calories are burned. As I was beginning to suspect, it sounds like I should take all calculations and estimates with a very large grain of salt until I'm at a much lower BMI.

I only track the inspection as it's out of the ordinary (once or twice a week), but the rest of the time I'm sedentary at work. I'll check out the calorie tracking sheets that Dean suggested, and try to keep track after I settle into my role at this location.

Thanks again for the feedback.

SP_COACH_DEAN SparkPoints: (115,432)
Fitness Minutes: (241,392)
Posts: 15,281
3/17/14 10:18 P

I think it's a safe bet that all those calorie burning estimates are high, whether you're getting them from an exercise machine or an on-line tracker like ours or any other one. How far they're off is pretty hard to figure out without collecting some very detailed info over a period of time. One reason they're high is that they all double-count some of those calories burned. That's because they don't estimate just your "net" calories burned by the exercise itself--they also include the calories you would have burned if you spent that same amount of time laying in bed. This won't be a big problem if you only do about 30 minutes of pretty high intensity exercise, but if you do quite a bit of normal walking every day, for example, and count all those steps as "exercise," you'll be double counting a lot of calories--enough to throw your recommend calorie range off. That's why we don't recommend that people use the fitness tracker to track their normal daily activities like walking around the house or office or doing light chores as "exercise." Just track your formal exercise with the tracker.

Another reason the estimates are off is that is that they don't make any allowance for your body fat percentage. Obviously, someone who weighs 300 pounds with a body fat percentage of 5% will burn a lot more calories/minute than someone the same weight with a bodyfat of 40% doing the same activity. When I first started going to the gym at about 375 pounds, the counter on the elliptical machines told me I was burning over 1800 calories an hour, and our tracker here put it at about 1600. If either we're right, I should have been losing weight at the rate of about 1.5 pounds/day, instead of the 2-3 pounds/week I actually lost at that stage. Even now, at 200 pounds, the fitness tracker tells me I'm burning about 900 calories per hour when I use the cross country hiking option, but my heart rate monitor says the number is closer to 600, and I'm pretty sure even that one is a little high.

I think the best thing to do at this point might be to use your own 900 figure for that inspection activity, if it's something you'll be doing on a regular basis. 600 calories per hour sounds about right for an activity that keeps your heart rate in the upper half of your aerobic zone, on average.

One good way to check out all these numbers, if you want to, is to keep a spreadsheet for a month or so, where you track your resting metabolic rate calories (your BMR), your normal daily activity calories, your exercise calories, and your calorie intake. In theory, those numbers should tell you your total calorie balance, and if that's accurate you can use that number to predict your weight change over that period of time fairly closely. Then you can compare that to your actual weight change, to see how close it is to the predicted amount. This still won't be exact, because it can't tell you exactly which numbers aren't right, but at least it will give you an idea of how far off your numbers might be. This method won't work over a short period of time, like a day or two, because of normal water weight fluctuations, but over a month or so, it can help you figure out how to recognize a "bad" number when you get one from a tracker or exercise machine.

Here's a website with a pretty good set of calculators you can use to get a rough estimate of your daily calorie burn with non-exercise activity:

Hope this helps.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
3/17/14 9:14 P

At 350 lbs, you might be outside the range of which the underlying calorie estimation equations are intended to be relevant (nothing personal intended in the above - it's just the limits of the math).

As a regular hiker and backpacker, I can assure you elevation change does matter - each vertical foot is the equivalent in effort to 8 horizontal feet. Walking across a slope also increase calorie burn, as your muscles are working hard to keep you balanced and stabilized. Slippery and unstable surfaces also increase the degree of effort. So I have no doubt that you were working hard.

10-12 calories per minute seems pretty reasonable in these circumstances. 1770 does seem an overestimate and beyond what is feasible (perhaps in the hiking setting Endomondo assumes you were carrying a pack as well?), and should be discarded. 1200ish does not seem an unreasonable estimate for what you are describing.


MLAN613 Posts: 18,619
3/17/14 8:27 P

Yeah, that number is way too high. I maybe burn around 1500-1600 while running a half marathon and that takes me around 2.5 hours.

I just tested out hiking on the SP tracker and I think their calculations are fairly accurate. I did change my weight to match your and entered 60 minutes. It gave me around 850 calories. Granted, I am not sure if you are male or female, which affects the calculation as well. (I am female.) So, I'd say the Endomondo number is a tad off.

SCRAGNX82 Posts: 6
3/17/14 6:31 P

Today I zig-zaged up and down a hill (18-26° slopes, 50-80' high) as part of a weekly impoundment/dam inspection. Recent precipitation has made the area wet on the surface, so the terrain is sloppy (typical 1-2" deep loose mud, areas of 18" in the ditches). Bulldozers have been working the areas so there are tracks & rts, run-off erosion to climb around and over, etc.

While walking/hiking I used Endomondo on my phone to track the route and time. It logged 3.55 miles in an hour and a half; then it followed with 1770 calories burned (hiking setting)... Not trusting that to be right I plugged in the same information into Sparkpeople (cross country hiking) resulting in 1270 calories burned.

I know that I'm going to burn more calories lugging 350 lbs up and down, but this seems outrageously high. I would say that I had moderate (descending and walking flat) to high (climbing) exertion, but using the general guideline of ~10 calories per minute for high exertion I get 900 calories.

I don't plan on eating back all of the calories that I burn; half at the most.

Should I not be using the hiking settings on this activity? Am I really burning 1000+ calories when I perform the inspection, or are all the numbers skewed for some other reason? Any help and/or thoughts would be appreciated.


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