The average person burns 350-450 calories per hour using an elliptical machine at moderate effort.
The number of calories burned using an elliptical will depend on your weight, and the intensity and duration of your workout. Using moderate effort, a 200-pound (90.8kg) person burns 477 calories per hour on an elliptical, and a 150-pound (68kg) person burns 358 calories per hour.
How many calories are burned on an elliptical?
Calories burned per minute = (MET x body weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200
“MET” is a measurement of the energy cost of physical activity for a period of time. You can find an activity’s MET on the chart above.
A task with a MET of 1 is roughly equal to a person’s energy expenditure from sitting still at room temperature not actively digesting food.
A task with a MET of 2 uses twice as much energy as a task with a MET of 1. A task with a MET of 10 uses 10 times as much energy as a task with a MET of 1.
MET values “do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium.” (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities).
The MET values we use for calories burned from an elliptical come from Arizona State University Healthy Lifestyles Research Center – Compendium of Physical Activities – Conditioning Exercises & 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities Reference List Category 2 – Conditioning.
A person weighs 180 pounds (81.65kg) and exercises on an elliptical at resistance level 5 with moderate effort (a task that has a MET value of 4.9) for 1 hour (60 minutes).
Calories Burned from an elliptical (per minute) = (4.9 x 81.65 x 3.5) ÷ 200 = 7.00
Calories Burned from an elliptical (for 60 minutes) = 7.00 x 60 = 420
How does the resistance setting on an elliptical affect the number of calories you burn?
The more intense the activity, the more calories are burned per minute.
A 180-pound (81.6kg) person burns 420 calories per hour at resistance level 5. They’ll burn 489 calories at a more intense level 8, and 394 calories at a less intense level 2.
How does your weight affect your calorie burn on an elliptical?
The more a person weighs, the more calories they will burn per minute at the same activity. A 200-pound (90.8kg) person on an elliptical at medium resistance for 30 minutes will burn 234 calories. A 120-pound (54.4kg) person in the same scenario will burn 134 calories.
How long does it take to burn 100 calories on an elliptical?
Most people will take 13-17 minutes to burn 100 calories on an elliptical. A 120-pound (54.4kg) person will take 22.8 minutes at resistance setting 2. A 240-pound (108.9kg) person will take 9.2 minutes at resistance setting 8.
Use the table below to find the time to a calorie goal. You can multiple the times in the table by 5 to find out how long to a 500 calorie goal, or by 10 to find out how long to a 1,000 calorie goal.
How long does it take to burn 500 calories on an elliptical?
The average person takes 65-85 minutes to burn 500 calories on an elliptical at resistance setting 5.
The time it takes to burn 500 calories will depend your weight and the intensity of the workout. Heavier people doing more intense workouts will burn calories quicker than light people doing less intense workouts. Use our calculator and tables above to find an estimate for your weight class and workout intensity.
How many calories are burned in 20 minutes on an elliptical machine?
Most people burn 115-160 calories in 20 minutes on an elliptical at resistance setting 5. You will burn more calories every 20 minutes with a higher intensity workout and if you weigh more. A 120-pound person burns 88 calories in 20 minutes at resistance setting 2. A 240-pound person burns 217 calories in 20 minutes at resistance setting 8.
Are calories burned on an elliptical accurate?
The calorie counter on your elliptical machine is likely more accurate when it comes to timing and measuring the intensity of your workout. It is less accurate when factoring in your weight (as it doesn’t have a way of measuring you).
Any caloric burn (including the one on this page and on your elliptical machine) is an estimate, and will change based on body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions.
Sources and External Resources
- Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS. The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide. Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University. Retrieved May 11, 2015, from the World Wide Web.
- Arizona State University Healthy Lifestyles Research Center – Compendium of Physical Activities – Conditioning Exercises & 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities Reference List Category 2 – Conditioning – Provides MET values for conditioning activities.
- “Metabolic Cost of Stride Rate, Resistance, and Combined Use of Arms and Legs on the Elliptical Trainer” by Mier & Feito – The study that provided MET values for an Elliptical trainer as quoted in the Compendium of Physical Activities.
- Learn about “MET” and the compendium of physical activities from Arizona State University, University or South Carolina, and Wikipedia. There is a summary of general physical activities defined by intensity from the CDC and the Harvard School of Public Health.
- Recommendations on physical activity for health from the Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO.
- Learn about the health benefits of elliptical trainers with “Six Reasons To Use An Elliptical Trainer – And A Killer Elliptical Trainer Workout” by Ben Greenfield Fitness, “Are elliptical machines better than treadmills for basic aerobic workouts?” by Edward R. Laskowski, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, and “Exercise Benefits of Elliptical Machines” by Lisa Porter of SportsRec.
- Learn how to use an elliptical trainer with “How to use an Elliptical Machine” by Planet Fitness’s YouTube channel, “8 Ways to Get a Great Elliptical Workout” by Meg Lappe, C.P.T. on Self.com, and “10 Mistakes You’re Making On The Elliptical” by Lisa Hoehn on Prevention.com.