Is your Treadmill Calorie Counter Accurate Enough?

Glancing at the calorie count at the end of your workouts makes you happy, doesn’t it?.

It gives you a psychological boost to know that you have shed so many calories. It makes you feel more accomplished and motivates you to pursue your fitness goals.

However, the calorie counters installed on the treadmill for home use and other cardio machines don’t give 100% accurate readings. These counters only provide rough estimates. These counters don’t consider all the factors involved in calorie-burning.

Some Factors that affect Calorie Burn

To Keep In Mind

Treadmills determine the number of calories burned after a workout by using certain standard formulas. These high-tech machines require you to feed in your gender, weight, and age before the workout for factoring them into the calorie-burning equation.

However, treadmills don’t consider various other factors like body composition, fitness level, and size.

Body size

The body frames or sizes of two different individuals differ from each other. Individuals with larger body sizes burn more calories.

Body composition

If you have more fats than muscle mass before beginning to do active exercising, you may initially not burn a larger amount of calories. Over time, you will develop muscle mass and burn more calories with the same duration and type of workouts.

Fitness level

Beginners burn more calories when they start their workout regimen. Once they get fit and efficient, they burn fewer calories with the same set of workouts for the same duration.


You burn more calories when you are young. As you grow older, you burn fewer calories with the same workout routine.

Form and Efficiency

Some cardio-machines like your treadmill cannot account for your form and efficiency while displaying calories burn count. Experienced athletes or treadmill runners burn fewer calories with the same speed and distance than novice runners.

It happens due to the new runners’ inefficient extra movements that result in the burning of more energy than the perfect strides of seasoned runners.

Cardio Machine Formulas

The different cardio machines use different formulas for counting calories. The commonly used formula by most of the machines is based on the Compendium of Physical Activities.

There are many other factors involved in this compendium.

This uses Metabolic Equivalent (MET) and assigns a value to different physical activities, from sitting idle to doing household work to doing workouts.

One MET unit refers to the number of calories burned in a state of no physical activity.

It is measured in terms of 1 kcal per kilogram per hour. It serves as a baseline for comparing the number of calories burned while doing other activities.

As per this formula, running at a speed of 6 miles per hour for 10-minutes burns 9.8 MET, while jogging burns 7.0 MET. This formula doesn’t consider the personal factors of the individuals while calculating the calories burnt.


A treadmill calorie counter is good enough for giving you rough estimates of how many calories you’re burning during your treadmill workouts. While a treadmill provides excellent cardio workouts, it may overestimate the actual number of burnt calories.

You may still use the readings of calories burned counters as a benchmark for your fitness routine. However, if you are targeting to reduce a fixed number of calories and use this reading to consume additional calories, you may end up with unwanted weight gain.

Thus, it’s better to consider the treadmill calorie counter readings by subtracting at least 20% from the counter’s displayed number.


Preksha is passionate about writing articles that will inspire readers to make better choices. You will find her eating desserts for lunch, dinner and any time of the day. Also, she is the chief playlist engineer for any road trip.

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