If you are using your treadmills monitor and statistics to track how fit you are getting, how many calories you are burning or the distance you are running each session, then we have some bad news for you, these figures are not always accurate.
This isn't the same for all the figures produced on your treadmill, as the statistics for distance are considered to be fairly accurate, due to it being a simple calculation, however those biscuits you are burning off calories wise, you might have to double-check.
To help understand what's accurate and what's not on your treadmill, along with how these figures are produced and alternatives, we have put together a guide below which will answer all your important questions.
Let's start with the heart rate monitor on your treadmill, first of all, you might be wondering how this monitor even works.
Well, on most of the popular treadmills, the heart rate monitor in this machine is built into the handlebars, meaning you will have to place your hand over this metal sensor when working out to obtain a pulse reading.
These metal sensors work by using small electrical signals to figure out how fast your heart is beating and give you a statistic.
The heart rate monitors built in the sides of treadmills are not accurate nor inaccurate. The issues of these monitors first off are the placement, many people get sweaty hands during an exercise session on a treadmill, and too much sweat can cause some inaccurate readings on the sensor as your hands will be sliding around. Any trapped dirt can also impact the readings calculated.
An inaccurate reading can also be produced due to the vigorous motion of you running, meaning the handlebars of the treadmill and your hands will shake giving false readings, the sensor however should work fine when you are walking.
If understanding your heart rate is important for your training on the treadmill or for your health then you might want to consider some more accurate alternatives.
Now we understand that the heart rate monitor on a treadmill is a bit of a hit or miss, let's move on to the calories statistics which are produced from your treadmill.
Treadmill calorie counters will produce an overall burn depending on the weight and height you entered in on the machine, the incline you are working out at, along with the speed and stride.
These calorie counters do not take into account your fitness level and muscle mass. For example, if you are someone with a very high fitness level then you will burn fewer calories than someone who is very unfit. Also, the more muscle you have, then the more calories you will burn.
Some people also support themselves with the handlebars of the machine while they workout which can provide inaccurate calorie burn as the exercise will be easier.
Calorie counters on treadmills don't take into account any of these factors, so you should take the figure produced with a grain of salt or track your progress with the alternatives below. Some of the higher quality models may require you to input your body fat percentage which can help if you know it.
The distance statistic produced on your treadmill is considered much more accurate than your heart rate or the calories burned, as the calculation is pretty simple. Your treadmill calculates the distance you have walked or ran by counting the revolutions of the belt, this is important if you want to track your progress or your pace from a workout.
Treadmills use the length of the belt and how many times it has been covered to give you your distance, this distance will be in miles or KM depending on the country you brought your treadmill from or the settings on your treadmill.
Overall, people regard the way a treadmill calculates the distance to be pretty accurate, the only things you should consider is if your belt is worn down or the fact that in comparison to a real terrain, this distance calculated on a treadmill is false as it doesn't factor in uneven terrains and other outdoor factors.
Lastly, you may be wondering if the speed that your treadmill tells you your running at is accurate, and most tend to be fairly correct.
Most low-end treadmills will have a speed range of 3.0 mph - 10.0 mph, but to test the speed of your treadmill, you can follow some steps below which will help you know whether your machine is correct or not.
Any error can occur with your treadmill which might be giving you a speed statistic that is either too slow or too fast, luckily, you can test the speed of your model with the steps below.
So as you can track your progress and make sure you are exercising in the intensity zone you want, you should know your target heart rate while running.
On average, most people have a running heart rate of 80-170 bpm, your target heart rate will be a percentage of your maximum heart rate which is typically your age took away from 220, so if your 21, your max heart rate will be 199 bpm when doing exercise.
Now, depending on whether you want to workout with a moderate or high intensity you will take a percentage of your maximum heart rate to calculate your target, for example, if you want to work out at a high intensity you will be looking to exercise at 70-85% of your max heart rate, for moderate this may just be 50%.
To figure out how hard you are working when exercising, you can use the monitor on your treadmill or the alternatives we mentioned above, you can also see by checking your physical exertion to see if you are tired or not.
After covering whether or not treadmills readings are accurate, you might be questioning whether a treadmill is really like running outside at all, so to help you out we have compared the two activities below and their differences.
We have listed out the common reasons as to why your running on a treadmill might feel harder than outside below.
What impacts how many calories someone can burn on a treadmill?
The following factors such as your weight, height, fitness level and muscle mass will impact how many calories different individuals can burn on a treadmill.
Are smartwatches accurate?
Smartwatches are considered very accurate ways of tracking your progress with fitness and will relay the info to your phone.
Why is my Fitbit distance different to what my treadmill shows?
A Fitbit uses your arm swing and stride length to determine how much distance you are covering, a treadmill however will be more accurate in this case as its covering the distance covered by the belt.
To conclude, the distance and speed of your treadmill tend to be the most accurate readings shown on your treadmill, however, you might want to invest in a smartwatch to track your heart rate and calories, as different treadmills can be hit or miss with these figures.
Remember, you can also check if your speed is correct on your treadmill with the calculation took by string, as well as your heart rate with a chest monitor.