The Definitive Guide for Thinking About Calories Burned from your Workout Routine

on the scale

Focusing too much on a machine’s calories burned readout is not the way to go. Also, using the calorie burn number as a license to eat junk is not a good idea. Instead calories burned should be just one point to consider among  many when considering your overall fitness level. Indeed, one needs to focus on several fitness numbers. Per Cybex exercise researcher Cory Hofmann, some of the salient metrics to focus on are:

  1. Body fat percentage: total mass of fat divided by total body weight
  2. Endurance -  ability of exert yourself and remain active for a long period of time
  3. Pace - consistent and continuous speed in walking, running, or moving
  4. Distance -  the number of miles or kilometers completed

In conglomeration, these figures provide a much more nuanced representation of your general fitness level. The point of exercising is a lifestyle one. People exercise to improve their fitness, lose weight and have a healthier life. If one focuses only on calories burned on a machine then the point of fitness is lost.  If instead, one’s endurance is increasing alongside their pace and distance then their overall health is improved.

A how-hard-did-I-exercise-meter

I understand that you probably haven’t heard about his new metric. The beauty of this metric though is that it is a much better way to gauge the level of your exercise intensity. Basically, the metric is based on a measure of perceived exertion. If your exercise regime is stagnant and has been for a while, then you should attempt to kick it up a level – from person walking dog to dog walking person, perhaps. By increasing intensity, you’ll have a better sense of how your exercise is improving over time.

The how-hard-did-I-exercise-meter will also allow you to get a better gauge on your overall body image than a calories burned metric would. By focusing on how hard you exercised on one day versus another you will have a complete sense of what your exercise and fitness profile are like.

satisfied after workoutThink of the how-hard-did-I-exercise-meter as a dynamic picture where as the number of calories burned on a particular day is only a singular pixel on the picture. The former gives you a better overall sense of how your health and fitness are progressing. The latter only provides a truncated view of how you are doing at one particular point in time.

So while the anticipation for that blueberry muffin might be so strong that you can taste the crumbs it makes more sense to re-evaluate exercise in terms of the points noted above. Think of yourself as a scientist. Try to approach exercise in terms of measurements of your personal effort and exertion. While you might not reward yourself at snack time, your overall health profile will be vastly improved.