You can measure the intensity of your workout by reps, time or distance, but to really get an accurate measure of how hard you worked out, you should estimate the calories you burned. You have a few options to pick from when it comes to measuring calories. Some are built in to equipment, while others are stand-alone devices. Select the calorie counter that best fits the needs of your workouts.
Built-in Calorie Counters
Many pieces of exercise equipment, like stationary bikes, ellipticals and treadmills, have built-in calorie counters. In 2010 Bob Quast, the vice president of brand management and product development for the American exercise equipment manufacturer Life Fitness, explained to Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper that these pieces of equipment calculate calories based on studies of actual users. According to Quast, they are accurate within 10 percent. These provide you with an easy way to estimate your calorie burn.
Heart rate monitors are a better alternative to built-in calorie counters if you use equipment like weight machines that don't typically use calorie counters, or if you don't use equipment at all to exercise. Heart rate monitors record your heart rate and estimate the number of calories that you burn based on that rate and other factors such as your age and weight. According to an article by Raphael Konforti, a RecSports Personal Training Program assistant at the University of Florida, a heart rate monitor is "a fairly accurate tool for measuring caloric expenditure."
A pedometer is a simple device that you wear on your hip to measure the number of steps you take. But some pedometers do much more, including estimating the number of calories that you burn. These can be an excellent option if you primarily work out by running or walking. Apps are available for your smartphone that can convert it into a pedometer, too, even making use of your phone's GPS to get a more accurate measure of the distance you cover.
You can easily use your computer as a calorie counter using one of several online calorie calculators. Calorie calculators don't record data; instead, you need to input it yourself. For instance, you would enter the exercise and the length of time into the calculator along with your weight. Calorie counters are available from websites like HealthStatus, Myfitnesspal and CaloriesCount. With these calculators, however, you're limited to the exercises contained in the database.