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SWEAT: Three Myths About Cardio Machines

Mar. 12 2009, Published 12:13 p.m. ET

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MYTH Keep the machine set on the fat-burning mode to drop pounds.

REALITY Experts say that you need to burn as many calories as you can by increasing the intensity of your workout if you want to lose weight. The hill climb or random setting can be just as effective as the fat-burning mode, plus variety is always a good thing.

MYTH You can burn 500 calories in half an hour.

REALITY Whatever! OK, so technically it IS possible, but most cardio machines are calibrated for a larger-than-average woman, so the calorie readout will be higher than what you’ve actually burned.

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For example, a 145-pound woman melts approximately 130 calories walking at 3.5 mph and running at 6mph. But muscle mass plays a role, too. The more muscle mass you have the more fat you’ll burn.

MYTH The heart rate display is a true reflection of your intensity level.

REALITY A finger pulse isn’t as precise as an arterial one, so only use the machine’s reading from the grip panels as a guideline. Your best bet? Wear a heart rate monitor.



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