Is The Calorie Counter On The Treadmill Accurate?

Hitting the gym for a run on the treadmill is a great alternative to running outside when the weather isn't cooperative. While some swear off the treadmill, others love running in air conditioning in the summer or the heat in the winter and taking advantage of the perks of using indoor fitness equipment. Most treadmills allow you to set your pace, incline, and even monitor your calories burned for motivation. But is that calorie counter that you watch slowly creep up during your workout even accurate? Good news, treadmill lovers, the answer is yes — well, for the most part. 

While it won't be 100% accurate, experts say that as long as you put in your weight before starting your workout, it is "accurate enough for government use" (via The Wired Runner). If your treadmill doesn't allow that option, unfortunately, your calorie count won't be as accurate. It will typically default to 155 pounds.

How does a treadmill count calories burned?

You shouldn't rely solely on the machine to calculate the calories burned for your workout. Due to not being able to account for your personal health factors that contribute to calories burned, you can expect an overestimation of 15 to 20%, according to Verywell Fit. A treadmill will use a standard calorie-burn formula that you can actually calculate on your own, without factoring in your body size and composition, age, and fitness level.

Other factors a treadmill may use to estimate calories burned are your stride length, efficiency, speed, and the incline you have set, according to The Wired Runner. If you avoid using the handles on the machine to hold your weight and practice good form, you'll experience the most efficient calorie burn.

Another way to gauge your workout's effectiveness is by monitoring your target heart rate, as well as using a wearable fitness tracker. While the treadmill gives a ballpark numerical calorie total for your workout, this amount shouldn't automatically translate into additional calories consumed. As always, pay attention to how you feel, your health, and your safety over the numbers on the treadmill or scale.