The local fitness center where I am a member leased new cardio fitness equipment from a company called Matrix. The treadmills appear to be well designed mechanically and have worked well.
For my workout, I always use the manual mode. This allows me to input my weight, workout time, and initial speed. Both the display and controls allow for toggling through and changing many of the variables such as workout time, weight, speed, and incline percent during the workout. It displays the speed, incline, distance, heart rate, calories burned, calories per hour, workout time, as well as other metrics I never use. My normal workout consists of setting my weight, the workout duration, and the initial speed into the manual mode of the machine.
When the machines were initially installed, I compared the calories burned to the older machines they replaced and felt they were similar. As my workout intensity increased, I noticed a discontinuity in the calories per hour. The calories per hour appeared linear until the speed was increased from 4.0 to 4.1 miles per hour. The readout indicated 1,350 calories per hour at a 15 degree incline at 4.0 mph, but only 1,261 calories per hour at the same incline and 4.1 mph. The indicated calories per hour burned during the workout dropped by 6.5%. You had to increase to 4.5 mph to actually see an increase in the calories per hour indication above the 4.0 mph reading.
This discrepancy also affects the running tally of calories burned. You walk faster and burn fewer calories -- not what anyone working out wants to happen. I might never have noticed this but the speed that this occurs is right in my normal workout range.
Whether the manufacturer is using a table or formula, this decrease in calories per hour doesn’t make sense to anyone but the monkeys who programmed it. I contacted the manufacturer and brought it to their attention, but there hasn’t been a change made to the equipment after almost a year.
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