Three Reasons that Exercise Equipment May be Lying to You

Three Reasons that Exercise Equipment May be Lying to You

You just spent an hour on the elliptical with your heart pounding and your body sweating up a storm. A quick glance at the machine’s display shows you burned an impressive 600 calories. “Wow, I deserve a post-workout donut,” you think to yourself. Unfortunately, your assessment could be wrong.

According to experts, while exercise equipment measurements of heart rate, distance and pace are usually pretty accurate, calorie counts can be off by as much as 30 percent—on the high side. That means if you rely on the machine’s calculations of your calories burned, you may think you’ve worked off 30 percent more than you actually have.

There are many reasons for these inaccuracies. These three are most common:

  1. The manufacturer’s algorithm.

Manufacturers use different algorithms in the calorie burn calculations. If your health stats vary from the average the manufacturer used, the calorie count is not going to be accurate for you. Some machines compensate for this—at least to some degree—by allowing you to enter your weight and age. Few, however, allow you to specify your gender and fitness level—two factors which also significantly affect caloric expenditure.

  1. Wear and tear on the equipment.

The older the machine you’re using, the more likely it is to be inaccurate. Treadmill belts stretch and slip as they age, reducing resistance. Elliptical, stair climber and rowing machines also have parts that can break down. And if you’re using the equipment at a gym—especially one that gets heavy use—even machines that look new may have resistance issues that contribute to calorie expenditure miscalculations.

  1. Operator error.

Maybe you’re a perfectly average human, of average weight, height and fitness. Your stats could be exactly those used in the manufacturer’s algorithm and you could still get an inaccurate calorie calculation if you’re not practicing proper form. This includes leaning on the handrails while using the treadmill, elliptical or stair climber. In essence, you’re reducing the amount of bodyweight you’re moving, so you’re burning fewer calories than the machine says you are.

If you must know how many calories you are burning with each workout—perhaps to stay motivated or because you want a better estimate of calories in versus calories out for weight loss—you may want to invest in a wearable monitor. Those that directly measure heart rate (though a strap around your chest) and have settings for gender, age, height, weight and fitness level are going to be best.

Does Your Health Insurance Cover Alternative Medicine?

Does Your Health Insurance Cover Alternative Medicine

According to the most recent National Health Interview Survey, more than 33 percent of U.S. adults and nearly 12 percent of U.S. children use complementary health approaches including natural products, yoga, meditation, massage therapy and chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation. Most of them pay for these tools out of their own pockets because they do not realize that their insurer will cover all or a portion of their alternative care costs.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits insurers from discriminating against any licensed healthcare provider, whether they practice traditional or alternative medicine. Though health insurers can still deny coverage for treatments they consider experimental or not medically essential, some are beginning to cover well-established alternative tools like biofeedback, acupuncture and chiropractic care.

If you regularly visit a naturalist, chiropractor or massage therapist, it may be time to take a closer look at your health insurance plan. Start by calling your insurance company and asking them these questions about the alternative medicine coverage they provide:

  • Is alternative medicine treatment covered under my plan?
  • Must I get a referral from my general practitioner before seeing a chiropractor / acupuncturist / massage therapist for treatment?
  • Will I have to meet my deductible or do I have a copay for the treatment?
  • Is there a limit to the number of times I can visit my alternative healthcare provider?
  • Do I have to go to a provider in my policy network?

If you find out that your policy does indeed cover all or a portion of your alternative medicine treatments, you’ll now need to check with your providers to ensure they will bill your insurance company.  If this is the first time you’re visiting a chiropractor, acupuncturist or other alternative medicine practitioner, ask about costs for initial visits and follow-up appointments as well.

Check with your insurer before purchasing any supplements from your provider or scheduling other treatments he or she recommends. If you don’t do so beforehand, coverage limitations may result in additional costs for which you did not budget.

If your health insurance policy does not cover alternative medical care at all—or does not cover the specific services you want or need—you may still be able to reduce your treatment costs. Ask your provider if they offer a discount to patients who pay cash. Some may also have payment plans available.

Still unsure what your insurance plan covers? Want to explore other options before the next open enrollment period? Give us a call today for an insurance plan review.