Healthy Tips | Articles & News

Exercise Machine Calculators

Why do you exercise? Is it for fun? Or are you training to reach a goal? Either way, it's a good idea to track your progress. But what's the best way to do that? The answer might be right in front of you.

“I'm here because I have lower back problems and I've been in training almost a month now.”

John Whitten works out at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital - or TOSH - every week. Regular exercise has helped him lose over 40 pounds.

 “My goal is to take off another 70 pounds,” he says.

John’s routine includes lots of time on the treadmill and other exercise machines at the training center. And every time he starts one up, he punches in his numbers so he can track his progress.

Doctor Tyler Barker, a physiologist at TOSH, says tracking is the best way to make sure you are not wasting time with your exercise program. An easy way to do that is by using the calculators located on your machine of choice.

“You put in your height, your body weight and from that it's going to do an estimate on your metabolic rate and also your exercise intensity to kind of give you a caloric expenditure,” says Barker. “Other things you can track on, for example, a treadmill, could be your heart rate, to see how your heart rate is responding, both from a baseline and how you progress through an exercise training program.”

Barker says the calculators on most modern machines are pretty accurate, using a formula derived from large population studies. But, he says, using old school methods to track your heart rate and your fitness level can be just as effective.

“Now, I'm a little old school, so a lot of times, if there's a clock somewhere or if I have a watch I'll look down and I'll take a quick 10 second read, multiply it by 6 and I can calculate my heart rate right off the top of my head,” he says.

Regardless of the method you choose, Barker says it is important to push the envelope a little bit every time you exercise.

“If you are on a bicycle, you can look at your watch to see that last week you were able to cycle at 150 watts for 30 minutes; your heart rate was this,” says Barker. “Then, several months down the line, if you are able to cycle at 180 watts and your heart rate is about the same, you're seeing some improvement in your physical fitness.”

And don't forget about recovery time. The older you are, or the less fit you are, the more recovery time you may need in between your workouts. One way to track that is to note how sore you are after each workout. Sit-ups may make your tummy tired the first few times you do them. When it stops feeling sore, then you know it's time to step up your routine.

Barker says one of the best benefits of exercise is that you increase your lean body mass - or muscle - which helps you burn more calories as you go through your daily routine.

Learn more about burning calories and measuring your fitness level.

Calculate Your BMI

Figure your Body Mass index (BMI) using your weight and height.
read more