How Accurate are Calorie Counters at the Gym?

Do you pay attention to the calorie counters on the exercise machines while working out at the gym? We’re always pleasantly surprised when we see how many calories we burned after an intense workout. We hate to burst your bubble, but the numbers on the machines aren’t always accurate and some machines are more accurate than others. So how accurate are the calorie counters?


The most inaccurate cardio machine for counting calories is the elliptical. This is because the movement isn’t natural and the range of motion depends on the machine you’re using which causes them to overestimate the calories you burn.

Stair Stepper

The stair stepper is a difficult machine and you’ll break a sweat when using it, but when it gets hard, many people lean over the console, which decreases the amount of calories burned. Also, many models calculate the gross energy expenditure instead of the net energy expenditure, which includes your resting metabolic rate. Your resting metabolic rate is the calories you burn from doing nothing.


The most accurate cardio machine is the treadmill, especially when you input your weight and don’t hold onto the handrails.

Stationary Bike

For the most part, the stationary bike is pretty accurate. They’re even more accurate when they measure technical data like METs (metabolic equivalents) and watts (power output). One thing they can’t measure is your pedaling technique, as you burn more calories when you’re standing rather then sitting.