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VIADOLOROSA SparkPoints: (26,861)
Fitness Minutes: (6,507)
Posts: 787
2/28/14 1:19 P

I'd like to find the list of exercise choices you can choose with the Spark Activity Tracker. Is there one online? I'm interested in knowing if gardening would be considered one of those. I'm a master gardener and garden every day from Feb to Nov, unless it's raining. LOL I'm always outside, love getting my Vit. D in that way.

LADYFISH Posts: 261
2/26/14 1:01 P

I have a HR monitor and the sparks activity tracker. I was just putting in the exercise from SP and it gave an estimated calorie burn. The SAP tends to under estimate (and they also don't have all the different choices for exercise as the regular exercise tracker: for instance, there's no cycling or spin choice for SAP. So I'm adding in the difference with the regular exercise tracker to get close to the HR monitor.

Then I also add a note to the exercise for the day and provide my HR for all exercises for the day. (For instance, if I do weight training, SAP doesn't register anything, so I add it in with the regular exercise tracker).

This way I can compare and see if there's a trend, especially with the HR monitor as I get more fit.

VIADOLOROSA SparkPoints: (26,861)
Fitness Minutes: (6,507)
Posts: 787
2/26/14 12:08 A

This is an interesting discussion. Thank you for the feedback about other brands. It does make sense they would overestimate the calories burned. When I work out at the Y I've always wondered if the count was a bit high. After reading the feedback in several discussions, I'm pretty much ready to get the spark tracker.

I have question, what type of reading do you get if you're gardening outside? What I'm wondering about is the 10 min. minimum before it tracks movement. I'd like to know how sensitive it is to types of movement.

1/19/14 12:46 P

Thanks for the info. This will help.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
12/5/13 5:47 A


I totally get the frustration.

HRM's are often a good way to measure the intensity of activities that are otherwise hard to measure objectively (eg. just how intense are aerobics videos?), but in this case there is good reason to believe that yours is producing junk numbers (for any number of reasons).

All calorie estimation methods have their weaknesses - if you want to get more accurate estimates, it can help to understand where those weakness lie.

mapmyhike is certainly more accurate for hiking with substantial elevation changes than the assumption in many calculators of level ground, but I feel that it is perhaps a little TOO generous on calories for elevation. Dial it back by about 10%, and you are probably closer to the truth.

Many pieces of gym equipment (eg. ellipticals) are notorious for significantly overestimating calories burned. The cynics might say that this coincides with a vested financial interest about making you feel better about using THEIR particular brand of equipment. Online calculators don't know what combination of speed and resistance settings you were using and just use general estimates of exercise intensity. Unless you are using a high resistance/speed setting, I'd go with the more conservative of speed versus online.

And before you let that frustration get to you, remember that your workout burned what it burned. Trying to work out which estimation method gives the most accurate estimate doesn't actually change what your body ACTUALLY burned.


12/4/13 11:58 A


12/4/13 11:57 A


12/4/13 11:56 A


12/4/13 11:55 A


12/4/13 11:55 A

Just go with one method and stick with it!

MIAMEOWS SparkPoints: (5,524)
Fitness Minutes: (11,553)
Posts: 187
12/4/13 9:51 A

I guess it doesn't really matter either way - I'm working out and I'm burning calories. I'm losing weight and building muscle. I just get obsessed with the numbers. I don't really eat the calories I've burned, or I eat very little of them.

I just get frustrated when I have four different readings for calories burned for one activity. (HRM, Machine, Phone App, SP) All of them have my weight, height, age, sex entered and they are all different. I feel like I should trust the HRM the most since it's actually rating my heart.

Anyway, I feel good and I'm losing, that's what matters. :) Thanks for the advice!

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
12/4/13 6:57 A


Most people burn between 6 and 10 calories per minute working out on a sustained basis (6 on the moderate end, 10 being more vigorous), and someone who is really fit and really pushing themselves might burn 12-13 calories per minute. Figures above this (equivalent to 800 per hour) should be regarded with a great deal of skepticism. As for 900 calories in 30 minutes, there is no way that that is feasible. (I don't mean to accuse you of lying - I'm sure that is what your HRM is reporting).

High blood pressure and some medications can lead to a faster heart rate than the exercise itself truly warrants. And some people just have a naturally faster heart rate.

As a regular hiker, I like the fact that mapmyhike takes elevation changes into account, but I suspect that its estimates are overly generous. Spark has a listing within the fitness tracker (the listing of activities, not the maps) for hiking, which would certainly give you more than 500 calories for 2 hours of hiking.


MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,451
12/3/13 7:10 P


Yeah, the maps feature on Spark does produce some weird results when you walk/run. There's something about the blended spends that just screws it up. I don't place any reliance on it.

On the issue of strollers, walking and running burn calories because you are having to lift your body weight (even if only a fraction of an inch) with every step. If you were carrying a 50 lb backpack, that would substantial extra calorie burn. But with a stroller, the weight goes down through the wheels, not through your legs. With a good stroller on level ground, the difference is minimal. With hills, you would be burning a little more, but even then, the difference is not huge.


SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,753
12/3/13 6:43 P

You'll find that every source you use to calculate calories burned is going to give you different numbers. SparkPeople does take your current weight into account when giving you those estimates.

A general rule of thumb is that the most you typically burn doing a high intensity workout is about 100 calories every 10 minutes. So if you're getting estimates that say you're burning a lot more than that, it's probably overstated. I would recommend sticking with the method that seems most reasonable for now, and see how your weight loss progress goes. If you aren't losing weight like you would have expected, then perhaps you'll know it's time to use a different method.

Hope that helps,

Coach Jen

FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (29,946)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
12/3/13 3:48 P

I have mapmyrun as well. I have noticed the differences as well. Sometimes there's not much of a difference and other times there is a huge difference.

If I use the elliptical, I don't even bother comparing it with what SP says, because it is always way more than what the machine and mapmyrun says (although I haven't been on an elliptical in months). On the treadmill, I have noticed that SP seems to round down your speed. There is no 3.5 mph choice for the treadmill. It's either 3 mph or 4 mph. In that case, I look to see what SP says for both the 3 mph and 4 mph, as well as what the treadmill and mapmyrun says I burned, then average them. I don't have a heart rate monitor, so I tend to take an average of what SP and mapmyrun says I burned when I walk, hike, run, or ride my bike.

I think that, for the most part, there's not too much difference in the calories burned. Although, I do think that I burn more calories on the rowing machine. Sometimes, I feel like I have burned more than 145 calories in a 20 minute rowing session (moderate). Then again, it may be that it was that good of a workout.

SLASALLE SparkPoints: (271,458)
Fitness Minutes: (102,871)
Posts: 11,706
12/3/13 3:43 P

SparkPeople supposedly takes into account the personalized information that you've input (height, weight and age). The more you weigh, the more calories you will burn during an hour of exercise.

I NEVER pay attention to the machine count, even if I've input my weight and age. They are just too inaccurate.

Honestly, I think that if Spark isn't giving you your full calorie burn (like not including the stroller), it's to your advantage. That way, you'll get more exercise in!!

Good luck!

MIAMEOWS SparkPoints: (5,524)
Fitness Minutes: (11,553)
Posts: 187
12/3/13 2:40 P

Yes! I use Map my Hike for my walks/hikes/jogs and I use a Heart Rate Monitor watch for when I do the elliptical. My HRM gave me 900 calories burned for 30 minutes (on highest level of Elliptical Machine. The machine's readout was even higher!) and SP gave me, like, 300?? And when I go for a 2+ hour hike with elevations MMH would give me upwards of 1200 calories burned. SP was still around 500.

I'm going with Map my Hike and my HRM monitor.

ASHLEYAMBER0710 Posts: 244
12/3/13 2:15 P

Does anyone else use an additional fitness tracker and find that calories burned don't line up? I use the map my run app to track all my fitness and it is far more generous, like up to 300 calories burned, difference. I walk/run through very differing train while pushing a stroller. When I use map my run it gives me anywhere from 400-600 calories burned. Sparks fitness map only give me 289 but it always doesn't allow me to add in the fact that I am pushing my 50 lb. toddler in a stroller. Also on the days I run on a treadmill and try to use sparks mileage tracker it gives me a much smaller total then map my run and even the treadmill that is going off my pace and distance.

I'm not sure which total of calories burned I should use. Currently I am using map my run and just logging it in to my fitness tracker here on sparks but I worry that I will end up eating to many calories since my trackers are linked. Does anyone else have this problem? Which tracker do you relay on?

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