People rely on numbers. They essentially count, label or measure units of “something”. We trust them because they are objective (they won’t change regardless of how the measurement is taken), precise, maintain a specific value and hold no prejudice or bias.
If you walk into a fitness club or gym, numbers are everywhere! The industry wouldn’t exist without them. For example:
- Time left on the treadmill, elliptical trainer or exercise bike
- Weight on a dumbbell, barbell, kettle bell or weight stack
- Sets and repetitions to complete as part of a program
- Value when you step on the weigh scale in the change room
The most important numbers for people dedicated to their fitness and exercise are the ones that objectively measure improvement and those that provide valuable information to help us achieve results faster and more effectively. Although there are a few measurements that are easy to obtain (i.e. height, weight, girth measurements), many of them require complicated calculations and formulas.
Top 10 Exercise Calculators
Exercise calculators (available online) are great tools to quickly gather valuable information customized to your needs. Below is a list of the best fitness and health calculators (all in one convenient place) to help you in your health and fitness journey. The following is the list of top 10 exercise calculators found at various websites online that provide valuable information at the click of a mouse:
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
- Daily Caloric Needs
- Physical Activity (Calories Burned)
- Target Heart Rate
Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight and obesity in adults. It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2). The equations used to calculate BMI are as follows:
- BMI (metric) = mass (kg)/(height (m))2
- BMI (imperial) = (mass (lb)/(height (in))2) x 703.06957964
BMI results are classified under the following categories (to view the corresponding BMI chart, click here):
- Underweight – <18.50
- Normal – 18.5 to 24.99
- Overweight – 25.00 to 29.99
- Obese – 30.00 to 39.99
- Morbidly Obese – >40.00
BMI may not apply to some individuals with more than normal muscle mass and acceptable levels of body fat. In some ethnic groups, such as Pacific Islanders, BMI overestimates fatness and risk. For children and the elderly, BMI may be misleading since the muscle and bone to height relationship is changing.
Some scientists believe that body mass index is an inaccurate measure of obesity-related risks because it does not account for body shape, fat mass and lean mass. But a new study finds that BMI works at least as well as other body measurements, and better than some, to predict certain health problems.
Online BMI calculators can be accessed using the following links:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) Calculator
BMR is the minimum caloric requirement needed to sustain life in an individual at complete rest. It is responsible for burning up to 70% of the total calories you expend each day. Because the human body adapts to many things on an ongoing basis, this figure varies. Calories are burned by bodily processes such as respiration, the pumping of blood around the body and maintenance of body temperature. Keep in mind the body will burn more calories due to the activities of daily living (i.e. walking, talking, eating/digestion), not to mention any physical activity or exercise that you may include.
The Harris-Benedict equation has been the standard calculation used for decades and is still the most widely used for estimating BMR. The Harris-Benedict equation for BMR is outlined below:
- BMR for Men = (13.75 x w) + (5 x h) – (6.76 x a) + 66
- BMR for Women = (9.56 x w) + (1.85 x h) – (4.68 x a) + 655
Online BMR calculators can be accessed using the following links:
- TheCalculatorSite.com (click here)
- Cornell University (click here)
- TodaysFitnessTrainer.com (click here)
Daily Caloric Needs Calculator
Regardless of whether a person is working towards losing, maintaining or gaining weight, keeping track of calories is an important part of reaching that goal. If a person eats more calories than he or she burns each day, they will gain weight. On the other hand, if that person burns more calories than they consumed on a daily basis, they will lose weight. Knowing how many calories your body needs each day is the first step in managing your weight.
The equation “calories in = calories out” is a basic explanation for the first Law of Thermodynamics. Unfortunately, effectively balancing energy includes more than just tracking the calories we eat and the calories we burn through physical activity. Important components of the energy equation that are often overlooked include:
- Calories consumed
- Calories converted to energy and used in involuntary movement
- Calories used for heat generation
- Calories used with immune processes
- Calories used in growth, tissue restoration and various other metabolic processes
- Calories used in voluntary movement
- Calories not absorbed in the digestive tract and matter expelled
- Calories stored as fat
- Fat converted in the liver to glucose (and there’s more)
Online Daily Caloric Needs calculators can be accessed using the following links:
Physical Activity Calculator (Calories Burned)
The number of calories burned depends upon a person’s weight, the type of activity they are doing and the level of intensity of the physical work (easy, low, moderate, hard or maximal). The higher the level of intensity of the activity, the harder a person works, expending more energy and burning more calories than someone who is not working as hard.
Online Physical Activity calculators can be accessed using the following links:
- American Council on Exercise (click here)
- FreeDieting.com – comprehensive activity list and calories burned based on your age, gender and height (click here)
Target Heart Rate (Range) Calculator
Your heart rate, or pulse, is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Normal heart rate varies from person to person. Knowing yours can be an important heart-health gauge.
Your target heart rate represents a range (beats per minute, or bpm), expressed as percentages of your maximum heart rate, that is safe for you to reach during exercise. For most healthy people, the American Heart Association recommends an exercise target heart rate ranging from 50% to 75% of your maximum heart rate (HRmax = 220 – age).
Online Target Heart Rate calculators can be accessed using the following links:
Effective Use of Fitness, Exercise and Calculators
The information gathered using the calculators is only as good as how you use it. Start by taking initial (or baseline) information to identify your starting point. Be sure to update the information on a regular basis (but only as often as is necessary) to track progress and to identify changes needed for your diet and/or exercise program.
Stay tuned for more information on Fitness, Exercise and Health Calculators in the upcoming months!