Reliable heart rate monitors, specially those that serve as calorie counter watch are essential tools for both amateur and professional exercisers alike, ensuring you put in just the right amount of effort and stay safe during a workout. Their other primary feature, however, is to estimate the number of calories you burn while you get your sweat on. You’ll want your calorie counter watch to be as accurate as possible with calorie counts so you eat an optimal amount of food. A few easy tweaks can make a big difference for how truthful your readings are.
- Update your user settings often.
All calorie counter watch tally calorie counts through algorithms that take your personal information into account. For example, the calculations include data such as your age, height, weight and gender. If you don’t give it this information, it typically will calculate calories burned based on a default. Your calculation also can be inaccurate if you don’t change the settings as your fitness progresses. You burn more calories as a 250 pound man, for instance, as you do as a 175 pound man, so take note when you shed a decent amount of weight or up what you’re lifting during strength sessions.
- Be mindful of where you train.
Calorie counter watch can experience electrical interference from other heart rate monitors, fitness equipment such as treadmills, power lines and appliances such as air conditioners. This interference can mean that it can’t properly receive the signals from your transmitter and, thus, might have blurbs of time where it’s not able to estimate what you’re burning. Alternately, it can mean the device keeps calculating but does so based on the interference, such as if it’s picking up the transmitter signals from an exerciser nearby. Try changing your location in the room or avoiding training routes that require you to pass by these interference sources.
- Take care when you suit up.
Certain types of clothing can cause static electricity to build up and interfere with your calorie counter watch readings, thereby potentially throwing off calorie estimates. Additionally, if your strap isn’t tight enough, the sensors on it might not be able to read the electrical activity from your heart accurately. Always wear workout gear that hampers static cling, and when you put on your strap, lift your arms above your head and exhale fully to make sure it’s not going to slip. Wet clothing also can cause interference, bouncing up and down in front of the receiver, so if you know you’re a sweat fiend, do yourself a favor and put the transmitter and strap on the outside of your shirt.
- Don’t forget about the calories you’d burn just to survive.
The amount of calories you burn each day for survival is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Most calorie counter watch estimate your calorie burn during a workout without taking into account that you would be burning some calories to keep yourself functioning even at rest, so the number you see at the end of a workout represents both what you burned through the exercise and what you burned just to stay alive. There are dozens of calculators you can use online to figure out what your BMR is, or you can insert your data into the following equation and do the math yourself:
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in year)
Once you know your BMR, divide it by 1,440, the number of minutes in a day, to determine how many calories you burn per minute simply to function. Then, when you do a workout, multiply your result by how many minutes you exercised. Subtract this number from the number you get from your calorie counter watch tells you. The result is your net calorie burn, or the number of calories you burned from exercise and nothing else.
Even high-end calorie counter watch are not perfect when it comes to estimating how many calories you burn during a workout. You can take a few steps to get a more reliable number, however. Updating your user settings should be a basic starting point, but you also need to pay attention to what you wear, how you put on the device, where you’re exercising and the fact you’re naturally going to burn some calories for survival. Heed these points and you might see figures that are more accurate by dozens or even hundreds of calories.