It's my understanding that the obstacle to giving more accurate elliptical numbers on Spark is in the design of the elliptical itself. Unlike on a treadmill where all of the factors that affect average burn are measured in an objective way (miles per hour, percentage incline) and are therefore the same on every machine, levels of resistance vary from elliptical to elliptical. What is a resistance level 5 on one machine may be easier or harder on a different model of elliptical. So Spark has no way of knowing what a particular resistance level really means, and they can't use it to give a more accurate calorie estimate.
Honestly, knowing that elliptical machines are notoriously inaccurate in their calorie estimates and that Spark can only provide a very rough estimate, I'd suggest that anybody who makes the elliptical a regular part of their fitness routine invest in a heart rate monitor. It's the only way to work around those obstacles.
I've found with the elliptical machine I use at the YMCA, the calorie display is usually within 10-20 calories of what my bodybugg display shows for calorie expenditure for that time period. Of course with the machine I've been using I enter my age and weight when I set up my workout routine. That will have an effect on the calorie readout.
Fitness Minutes: (29,062)
626 12/12/09 4:43 P
I agree that machines are poor estimators for most individuals, but Spark really isn't any better with the estimates. I think the "elliptical" option on Spark is set for little or no resistance. If you use a lot of resistance, I would go with the number on your machine but just realize that you are probably not actually burning as many calories as it says you are. The elliptical I use has a range from 0-20 and I typically work out on about a 15, so I use the number that the machine gives me because I really don't think Spark is set for that much resistance.
It would be good if someone with the site knew the answer to this question though, and could tell us what resistance that assumes.
Fitness Minutes: (20,294)
1,426 12/12/09 1:31 P
I would not believe what the machine say, they are a poor estimater at best. My stairmachine said 885 cal for my hour work out. I think a more real number would be 500 to 600. It's best not to base your diet on what these machines say. It's better to base it on what your body is saying. If you are tired all the time you work out too hard or do not eat right. If you gain weight eat less and work harder unless the weight gain is muscles.
I tested the elliptical at my local Goodlife Fitness while wearing my HRM (with Chest Strap), and much to my surprise it was very close. I seem to burn about 10 calories a minute - 30 minutes - 300 cals.
Machines are notorious for significantly overestimating the calories burned. While 575 calories in 30 minutes might be feasible for a very fit person, you are right to be sceptical about the accuracy of this figure for the rest of us.
You are also right in commenting that Spark uses a broad average of intensity, rather than the specific resistance setting, and so may underestimate calories burned on higher resistance settings.
Short of getting a heart rate monitor, I'd suggest going with the more conservative of the two numbers.
Fitness Minutes: (19,305)
155 12/10/09 1:33 P
That is the nature of the elliptical machine and the lack of your ability to enter a resistance on the website.
If you want a more accurate reflection get yourself a heart rate monitor that will calculate calorie burn. I have a Polar and it works great. It is in line with what the elliptical machine says so that is what I report here on spark.
I just chose the manually enter calories burned button. Then you create your own version of the activity. When you report it you enter both the time and calories burned. After you create the new activity you can reuse it from the favorites tab.
Fitness Minutes: (16,760)
860 12/10/09 12:46 P
It varies so much between SP and the machine, it can be frustrating. I try to work as hard as I possibly can, then usually split the difference between the two. It's just not an exact science, so as long as I'm losing, I try not to worry too much!
I don't have the answer, but I am glad you asked because I was wondering the same thing. The Spark fitness thing does the same with the stair stepper - it just has it generally and doesn't allow you to input your speed. I would say there is a big difference in exertion if you are casually strolling or actually working out, and its frustrating to know when you put it in the system it won't differentiate.
With the elliptical, it would be nice if they would let you put your speed and resistance so that it could more accurately calculate. Just a suggestion!
Don't trust the machines! I have used numerous eliptical calculators online and they seem in line with Spark. It's really just an average, as long as your losing weight (if that's your goal), keep doing what your doing!
How does SP know how many calories you burned on the elliptical if you can't enter the resistance (or can you?) I'm pretty sure my elliptical is generous on the calories burned in a half hour I can burn about 575 on a level 6 to 7 resistance ( it claims) although when I enter the elliptical in SP for 30 mins it says I burned about 300. That's a HUGE difference. Just wondering if anyone had any of ideas. Thank you!
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