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MOTHERBOARDER SparkPoints: (284,032)
Fitness Minutes: (136,143)
Posts: 13,609
8/27/11 10:38 A


MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
8/27/11 10:26 A


Spark generally takes your weight into account in coming up with a calorie estimate, and this holds true for many different forms of exercise.

But cycling is not really a weight-bearing exercising. Unless you are going up hills, you are really working against the resistance of the wind, the tires and the chain, not your own body weight. So a weight based-estimator is always likely to produce an overestimate for a heavier person for an activity like cycling.


PAPAMIKIE SparkPoints: (48,308)
Fitness Minutes: (108,468)
Posts: 3,984
8/27/11 9:10 A

For biking like that a Heart Rate Monitor will be about as accurate as anything. They are normalized against that type of activity.

MAGILLA7 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (3,996)
Posts: 2
8/27/11 8:53 A

I think the Spark WAY overestimates the number of calories burned for bicycling...

I'm 6'4 and 265,and spark tells me that I'm burning 1800 calories an hour pedaling my bicycle at 17.5 mph. Um, sorry. Wish it were true.

On the other hand, this website:
m gives me about 900 calories, which is far more believable...

I am highly interested in the Bodymedia Fit armband and Bodybugg - I'm going to wait until they get more accurate reviews for tracking exercise before I purchase.

Is there any way to adjust the calorie counter on spark to reflect more accurate calorie burn?

PAPAMIKIE SparkPoints: (48,308)
Fitness Minutes: (108,468)
Posts: 3,984
3/9/11 7:50 A

Frankly, I have tracked my Calorie burn with 6 different estimates over two years. They all end up within 10% of each other and that is likely less than the error involved in the calculations.

In my opinion HRM, METS, Sparks, etc will each give you a reasonable starting point with respect to howmany calories you burn.

WINNIIIE Posts: 396
3/8/11 10:22 P

I too struggle with the best way to figure out how many calories I am burning. I usually wear my heart rate monitor twice a week for my spinning class, one is 60 minutes and the other is 75 minutes long.
My average heart rate is usually 176 I usually met a max of about 184-186 too. I use the same website as you posted below and it usually tells me I am burning between 700-900 calories. The bike that I use usually tells me I am burning only 400-600 calories and spark is around 500-600.
My spin classes are really intense and I make sure that I really push myself and make sure that my heart rate never drops below 160-165. I find it hard to believe that someone my size (4'10 105-108 pounds) can honestly burn 800 calories in an hour, no matter how hard I am working out.

I just try to average out the 3 different calorie calculators and I tend to track in around 500-600 calories burned. I honestly would rather track slightly under than over, since I am trying to lose weight. I also tend to eat in the higher range of my calories on those days too, I don't do this on purpose, I just find I need a good pre and post workout snack.

SP_COACH_NANCY SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (112,042)
Posts: 46,222
3/8/11 7:50 P


Even the best heart rate monitors on the market are just a guesstimate of calories burned. When we work out on a consistent basis our bodies require a greater percentage of glycogen (stored glucose in the muscles and liver) and with that comes a greater retention of fluid. When you quit working out your body begins to unload the glycogen and hence the fluid that is stored with it.

For this reason it is important not to use the scale as your only source of measuring your progress.

I hope this helps!

TIME2LOSE428 Posts: 186
3/8/11 7:46 P

How do you know the HRM overestimates calories burned? If you're right and you've been underestimating via what the website tells you, maybe the HRM is more accurate than you thought?

77PINKLADY Posts: 612
3/8/11 7:31 P

I got a HRM watch for Christmas and I love it. It seems to be right in line with what the treadmill & elliptical machines say and with what SP has programmed in. There's also some slight difference but not too much. Mine is a Sportline from Dick's Sporting Goods. Around $59. I'll even take the average of the machine, my watch, and SP sometimes.

CORTNEY-LEE SparkPoints: (67,852)
Fitness Minutes: (69,867)
Posts: 3,526
3/8/11 7:16 P

This is a problem I am having too! I considered getting a hrm, body bug or similar device for this reason. All of the websites (spark included) seem to way over estimate I think, while the machines at the gym seem to underestimate.

What I have been doing is using an average of two websites, spark and the machines. I am not sure how it is working yet because I won't weight myself until the end of the month.

I also welcome suggestions

DVINEPR Posts: 296
3/8/11 6:39 P

I have been working out using a heart rate monitor for a few months now, so I have a consistent data point on my workouts. The HRM ridiculously overestimates the calories burned - which I knew when I bought it - so I take the average heart rate and time and input it into a calculation (link at the bottom of the page) that seems to be scientifically based and (I think) accurate.

I've been going along losing about a pound a week for the last month, which is great, but my plan is based on my goal to lose two pounds per month.

Then this last week, I didn't exercise for 5 days, and ate over my calorie range for the same period, and lost two pounds... This got me thinking... am I underestimating the amount of calories I am burning when working out? I know SP warns you when you go significantly over your planned calories burned for the week, because your body goes into starvation mode (my translation) :)

What do you think? And is there a better/more accurate way to calculate calories burned?

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