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How are the calories burned calculated?

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  • For all distance based sports, we calculate the calories burned as a function of sport, distance and weight of the athlete. In other words, the consumption is equal to a certain amount of calories per km per kg of body weight. This amount of calories is a factor depending on the type of sports activity, i.e., it is relatively low for transportation cycling compared to running. These factors are based on an official research studie about calorie consumption in different activities.

    The formula looks like this: Calorie consumption in kcal = X kcal * body weight in kg * distance in km For instance, the factor for walking is 0.8.

    For a person with a weight of 75 kg taking a walk of 5 km, the formula looks like this:
    Calorie consumption in kcal = 0.8 kcal * 75 kg * 5 km
    Calorie consumption = 300 kcal

    If you import your workout from a file (.fit, .tcx or .gpx) or Garmin devices that include calories, we will use the imported value. If you then edit the workout data, the calories will be recalculated according to our calculation method.

    We are considering adding more factors into the equation.
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  • In cycling, does the ascent/descent change the calculation or is it all based on the above formula.
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  • Eva (Community Manager) July 12, 2011 10:13
    Hi Dave,
    Calories calculation for cycling is also based on above mentioned formula.
    Cheers, Eva
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  • I’m frustrated
    1
    I only seem to get a caloriecount when im using my GPS and move from A - B. If i only use it at an Aerobics session, the caloriecount is always marked "-"

    Any idea to why everybody?

    This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
    Why dont i get a caloriecount unless i use the GPS?.
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  • The app needs an event to recalculate the calories. Without GPS, there is no event (e.g. next kilometer). Just press on the Speaker icon on/off to recalculate the calorie counter during the exercise
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  • 4
    you should add the ascend / descent to your formular...
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  • I’m frustrated
    It sucks... I have a Garmin Edge 800, I use it for MTB, but it imports to Endo as cycling, sports - only thing I want to change is the type of workout, but this messes up my calories :(
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  • 1
    yes it is very very incomplete...
    http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/166...
    http://www.endomondo.com/workouts/166...
    the first uphill - 310Cal, actually it should be more.
    the second, same route, but downhill - 309

    besides that, do you take in consideration the speed or avg speed?
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  • Hi,
    I was wondering what about time?
    How it is possible that I ran 6.5 in pace of 6 min/km
    and 5:22 min/km
    and burned the same amount of calories?

    At the second training I burned significantly more calories - so please add that to the mathematical equation.

    Thanks,
    Keep up the great work!
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  • 6
    Endomondo's calorie calculation is very simplistic. It doesn't take into consideration altitude gain/loss, heart rate (even if you use a monitor), additional weight of gear (i.e. for hiking) or pace. I would say that the calorie calculation is completely meaningless and inaccurate.

    Endo needs to URGENTLY revise its calorie calculation formula to take into account all of the above factors.
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  • How does Endomondo calculate the Kcal use for a work out.

    When I use my Polar watch,I get a number, let's say 800 kcal. But when I enter the excact same number from polar watch I get like1200 kcal.

    My weigth and Heigt is the same in my watch, and on Endomondo.

    This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
    Kcal calculation.
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  • It should be possible to edit the calorie consumption. Mine is way off when comparing with my Polar watch...
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  • I’m angry
    1
    Polar uses your intensity level (as indicated by your heart rate) in addition to your age, weight and pace to determine an accurate calorie count. As far as I can tell, Endomondo doesn't consider your intensity level at all even though it is recording your heart rate data. They only look at age, weight and distance traveled. They estimate the intensity based on the "exercise type" (i.e. walking is less "intense" than running) and distance traveled, but it is based on general assumptions not your individual situation. For non-distance-based exercises the calculation is simpler, based only on age, weight and time (so, you could actually sit down and watch TV for an hour and it would still record the same calorie consumption).

    The folks at Endo read these message boards. I hope they are working on improving their calculation method.
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  • I’m pretty frustrated.
    Yes - the most annoying feature is the poor settings and wrong calorie calculations. My sport is not mentioned, its is zumba. I have to choose DANCING, and this seems to have only one calorie calculation: based on my gender, my weight and my sporting time.. impossible to fix the calorie amount...
    Gives me for 1 hour sport: 290 calories (ridiculous, since there are so many types of dancing sports, less or more cal. burning...)
    Since as average I burn 500-600 calories - would like to fix this in my dancing sport type settings! Please make the calory fixing/sport type possible SOON,
    otherwise I change for another software. Nobody likes wrong info for the annual totals.
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  • I’m confuced
    approx. 25 km. cycling sport = 1124 kcal
    approx. 25 km. cycling transport = 656 kcal
    Same time, same distance, same weight, same heartrate in fact same same, how come the difference?
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  • 1
    As explained previously in the thread, Endomondo IGNORES how hard you are working. It completely ignores the heartrate data. It uses "statistical averages" for calorie consumption based on time, distance, weight and exercise type (and age, I believe).

    The difference you see above is because you selected "cycling transport." Endomondo assumes you're not working as hard since you're just "commuting" somewhere on your bike. They use a statistical average calorie burn for that exercise type. They ignore the heartrate completely.

    The problem is worse in non-distance based exercises like weight training. You can press "start" and then sit on your ass eating ice cream for an hour and the calorie burn will be the same as if you were pumping iron the whole time.

    We're all hoping that Endomondo will someday fix this and actually look at your heartrate data to calculate the calories accurately. Until then, the calorie calculation is pretty much useless.

    NOTE: I am not am employee of Endomondo and my information may be inaccurate but it is based on emails I have exchanged with Endomondo. I'm just another frustrated user who spent $70 for a useless heart rate monitor and wishes they would fix this ASAP.
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  • 2
    What about calculating the difference in altitude? Not indifferent if you walk/cycle on the flat or uphill....

    example:

    To get even closer to the exact answer to the caloric question there is a complex equation to follow that requires breaking a ride into several sections dependent on the grade of the road then comparing them with the time spent on each grade. Adding the results together will yield the best answer available without hiring a professional. The equation is as follows:

    Calories/Hr = [V*W(.0053 + %G/100) + .0083(V^3)]*7.2

    Where V is the rate of speed in MPH, W is the combined weight of both rider and bicycle, and %G is the percent grade of the road. The other two factors (.0053 and .0083) stand for friction and wind resistance and are not exact for each situation but this equation provides a more accurate estimate with variations dropping significantly.
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  • 3
    Basically what is urgently needed is to take HR data in account.
    Currently Endomondo makes very little use of HR sensors (at least the zephyr Hxm)
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  • 4
    Just want to add my support to this topic. This needs to be addressed sooner than later... especially considering many of the challenges on the site are based upon calories burned!

    Heart rate seems like the simplest calculation to add across the board, I don't understand why they cannot get that put in fairly quickly. It's not like they have to come up with these formulas all on their own. They're all over the web, it's just a matter of finding ones that seem the most accurate.

    But they should also add a couple fields for additional weights. For example "Cycling Gear Weight" so that you can take into account the weight of your bike and anything you may be carrying on it or with you. This needs to be a separate data field so that it will only be calculated for Cycling and excluded for other non-cycling workouts. They could also have a "Hiking Gear Weight" data field, etc, etc.

    Elevation, ascent/decent, riding style, bike type and wind would all be welcome additions to their cycling algorithms. For instance, if you have a mountain bike and are riding uphill into a headwind you'll be working harder than if you're on a road bike riding with the wind on a flat road and are in the drops or aerobars. These factors are all important when cycling and make a huge difference on how much energy you have to use.

    Ideally all these factors would be taken into consideration... but at this point I'd be happy with the Heart Rate and additional Gear Weight fields.
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    • heart.. rate... AMEN!! This really should be the priority. I'm not buying a heart rate monitor until they're useful. So it's not just something you can do for us.... it's something you or one of your competitors can do to increase profits.
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  • Hehe, yeah I suggested a way to enter "hiking gear weight" months ago and they said it was a "good idea".
    Actually, I'm a bit concerned that Endomondo has gone out of business. They haven't responded to my emails lately and no one from Endo is participating in the forums.
    Are you still alive, Endo?
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  • Is this when we all make the switch to Runkeeper? Do they calculate the burning of calories better than Endomondo?
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  • I think I'm going to switch to Runkeeper. They wrote this in a support thread: "When calculating calories burned we include time, speed, distance, body weight, and elevation and should be more accurate than most other devices. Elevation data is included for both Free and Pro versions of the app."
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  • I’m happy
    When I make of the fitness I do not cross kilometers, but I spend quite a lot of energy, how to know if the estimation is reliable?
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  • This is something that has started to be a problem with my workouts now. Running is fine but for static exercise such as Spinning the heart rate is all the device can really go on.

    I would have thought going through the getting official support for a HRM would have meant there was better integration. It's great tech being under-used at the moment.
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  • i started to do Trail running. as such activity is not included (hope only yet) the calorie data is meaningless.
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  • Hi,
    Today I was running and my calories amount is -. Why? The same for hiking? I am using Nokia E52.

    Regards Jacek
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  • I’m frustrated
    3
    I just purchased a Zephyr HxM assuming HR would be part of the calorie calculation. I'm a bit stunned to find out that it isn't. Please implement this relatively simple change.
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  • Yeah, just like all of us, you were duped! No one from Endo has responded to this thread for weeks. I hope they are still in business...
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  • I will like to know if the integration whit the Withings WiFi body scale will automatically modified the weight setting in the account setting section. The calories calculation considerate the weight in the addition of calories we spend during activities. It’s will be important to considered the evolution of the weight in the calculation of the calories.
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  • Hmmm...the lack of response from anyone at Endo does give me some concern. Is Endo going under?
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  • they tend to have only the first responses, and then it seems they forget about the threads... thats my experience from my short time at this forum...
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  • Someone should start a new thread "Is Endomondo going out of business??"
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  • I suspect they don't read any comments once the question is flagged as answered. Perhaps a new question asking when this will be implemented would be better.
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  • 2
    Before ditching my Polar watch I need the following:

    - better calorie-calculation based on HR, gender, age, weight, activity, etc
    - ability to see HR as percentage of max HR

    When will this happen, Endo?
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  • For cycling, they have to use averages. It doesn't know if you are going uphill or downhill. In general if you are cycling a round trip, every foot climbed, will be descended. It's a wash out then and it doesn't matter if they give you the same calories for up and down if you do both.

    For all of you with heart rate monitors, just track calories with that, and use the app and site to do distance tracking only, or just do manual inputs. Is it really that complicated. I doubt the GPS is 100% accurate. If you used multiple GPS and multiple heart rate monitors from different manufacturers. I can guarantee you will not have any matching 100%. Anything online is a rough guide, even the heart rate monitors are. If you really need accurate calories, go to a lab and get tested.
    • That's silly, I (and I dare say "we") don't want test-lab accuracy, but the way Endomondo calculates the burned calories is way, way, way too simplistic and inaccurate.

      In cycling, after climbing a hill, yes, you do usually have to go downhill, but you could either go the lazy way and coast all the way down, or you could maintain a high cadence of 100rpm or so.

      It's obvious that in the second case scenario you'd burn way more calories than with coasting, so that's why I see that it's rather important to take into account the data Endo receives from the heart beat monitor and GPS.

      I do realize that GPS in not always spot-on, and that the HRM may record a value a little over/under the real heart rate, but I do believe that even with those errors the burned calories count would be way more accurate than what we currently get.
    • But Aaron it takes a lot Longer to climb a hill than to coast down it so it's not a wash! The Calories burned by your body may roughly be proportional to Distance on level ground but should be integrated over Time on hilly or mountainous terrain.
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  • Just want to add that i have actually quit using endomondo and am now using runkeeper (android) for the only reason that the calorie count is useless in endomondo (and it is quite accurate in runkeeper). So please fix, would like to switch back :-)
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  • I think Aaron Tarpine simply did not read the thread before he posted. He clearly doesn't understand the main point of this thread.

    He says "for all of you with heart rate monitors, just track calories with that." But the point of this thread is that Endomondo actually added heart rate monitor integration as a feature six months ago. They even offer a Polar bluetooth heart rate monitor for sale on their website. Many of us went out and bought it expecting that Endomondo would now use this heart rate data to make the calorie calculation more accurate and based on how hard each person is actually working. Unfortunately they have not done so. As of now, Endo simply records your heart rate but doesn't use it to calculate calories.

    Aaron says "For cycling, they have to use averages." Sorry, Aaron but you are wrong. Endomondo is receiving a signal from the Polar bluetooth heart rate monitor and does not have to use averages. Unfortunately, they ignore the heart rate data and use averages instead. That is what everyone's upset about!
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  • Aaron's right about one thing, all calorie calculations are only rough estimates, some very rough indeed. For cycling especially, whether you are in a group or solo, up or down hill, on rough or smooth roads, with or against the wind, make a huge difference and are generally ignored.

    So if you're going to try to make an estimate at all, you have to use heart rate, in my opinion. I guess that Endos problem is that most users don't have a HRM, and many of them still want a calorie estimate. But if the heart rate is there, it should surely be used. That could easily bias the challenges though, another problem for Endo.

    As for me, I am one of those sceptics that thinks all the estimates are so inaccurate that they are best ignored ;-). And yes, I know I'm in a small minority, at least in this thread :-).

    Cheers, Alan.
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  • Cecilia Lerena less than a minute ago
    Hi I have recently installed endomondo in my nokia n97, but calories consumtion doesn't work at all. No mather what activity i do, I have a registration of zero calories consumed. Do you have any idea why is this happening?? I have tried to modify the settings but it doesn't seem to work at all.
    Could anyone help me??
    Thanks!
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  • Why are you assuming that the average speed of cycling sport is 20mph / 36kmh?
    THIS IS INSANE!!!
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  • Eva (Community Manager) September 19, 2011 08:52
    Hi guys,
    thank you all for contribution to this topic. To answer all your remarks on such a complicated issue:
    Yes, we do realize that your calorie formula is not the best one in the world and yes, we do plan to do something about it - add heart-rate, elevation, etc.

    If you think that you have the greatest calorie calculation formula and you would like to see it implemented for Endomondo, you are more than welcome to share with us. We have already tested many of them in a search for a perfect new one, so if you feel like contributing in a constructive way, just go for it! :)

    Cheers, Eva
    • Eva, as i understand METS are a fair way to calculate better to Kcal, it depends on avg speed what MET factor is used in the workout. If it is possible to make a difference, based on a table for every type of sport and avg speed. Extra weight can be added by the user for backpack or something else. Still i think it is almost not possible to take everything in the calculation due to the variety of calculation factors people want to have accounted for.
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  • 1
    Dear Eva

    Why not keep it simple, use the heartrate, maybe cadence senor, the distance and the time.

    I don't understand why Endomondo can tell that we can use Polar/Zephyr BT HRM, Cadence sensors etc., when the app dont use the data but only collect them.

    If there is support for HRM/Cadence sensors etc.then use the data from these devices otherwise I dont understand why Endomondo can tell that they support these devices, collecting data is imo not enough.

    My hope is that Endomondo integrate these data to make the calorie calc. more precise.

    But for now I have to use my very old Suunto T6 watch which with Suunto SW is much more accurate in messauring calorie calc.

    I don't have any calorie calc. formula, but i guess that google will do the job for you, but again you have to use the collected data otherwise it don't make sense.

    Kind regards Jan
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  • 4
    Ed,/Eva

    I have to agree with Jan. The entire point of this thread can be summed up as follows:

    "Endomondo released support for bluetooth heart rate monitors six months ago. However, instead of using this heart rate data to calculate calories, Endo continues to use very poor approximations based on age, weight and type of exercise. Why doesn't Endo use the heart rate data from the monitor to calculate calories much more accurately?"

    You make a great suggestion regarding METS but again it will only be an estimation. Why estimate when you have heart rate data???

    Endo.... why? Eva, please respond.
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  • Jim,

    I have learned that the heartrate monitors are always based on an estimation, not on the factors you want to be accounted for. Although i tried to get an complete answer for calculating kcal, the only known compensation for effort is METS.

    Support for heartrate does not mean it can be used for calculation models, weight, age and length are still the only factors for the basic calc, METS provides an extra factor for the effort.

    Measuring heart rate is as far as i know only used for providing you with information about condition and level of training to support you in weight loss of conditional improvement. But it is always basically used for calculating your max HR, not your Kcal use.

    If you know where to find an extended calculation model, please inform us with the location or the model. Maybe it will be possible to make a new calculation model for Endomondo.

    Ed
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  • While the result of including heart rate monitor data in the formula is still an estimation, it will be a more accurate estimation than what we currently have available.
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  • We need to get more people to vote for this idea. Great things happen when Endo sees that 100 people support an idea!
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  • 3
    Eva, Ed and Others,

    Here is a link to a scientific journal that describes how to calculate calorie consumption based on heart rate and other factors.

    "Prediction of energy expenditure from heart rate monitoring during submaximal exercise"

    Sounds like this is right on the money. You will need a pubmed account to get the full paper.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15...
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    • Eva (Community Manager) September 29, 2011 08:41
      Hi Jim, thanks for your contribution, we appreciate it.

      Cheers, Eva
    • Might be speaking out of turn here since I am commenting without reading any posts beyond this one, but just some thoughts on heart rate to estimate (yes, estimate) energy expenditure (EE).

      Your heart rate monitor is in many ways no better or worse than the equations Endo uses to estimate EE. Both methods have limitations, although they are different limitations. One could debate forever which limitations are more or less favourable for the purposes of the app.

      One should not be fooled into believing that any (portable) device we use as athletes is anything more than an estimate of EE. The only way to measure EE accurately is by measuring the oxygen consumption, i.e. wearing a mouthpiece or facemask and sampling the air you expire.

      Given oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production, we can measure EE very accurately. Again, all the other devices we buy are only estimating EE based on some number of variables according to their method(s).

      Heart is pretty good, however, but the equation one uses will determine just how good. There are many, some published, some not (i.e. a manufacturer develops it on their own and does not share it).

      But the thing one must be cognizant of when using heart rate is that the relationship between heart rate and EE is not linear. In particular, at less and 100 bpm and over 150-160 bmp the curve tends to be flatter. This is only one of the limitations to using HR to predict EE.

      Having said all that, for me the "take homes" about EE on a device are that it is only an estimate. Try to realise the the limitations that underlie this approach to estimating EE.

      And it is a free and cheap app, with no ads. Let's not forget that given the cost Endo (and others like MMF) are good training tools for so many other reasons:

      Longitudinal tracking
      Automated logging
      Comparative analyses (to yourself and friends)
      Heart rate monitor (allowing you to use HR for training intensity)
      Food logging (not yet on Endo but maybe eventually?)

      It will never be all things for all people. Ever. And that is fine. If you are particularly concerned about having an accurate measure of EE, I suggest you delete the Endo app from your phone and rather buy a K4 (http://www.cosmed.com/k4b2) for $10k or more.

      By the way my wife and are both Exercise Physiologists, and the paper on Pubmed linked to earlier is her work (LR Keytel). That equation was developed for Polar, but she went on to develop a better one:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16...

      Thanks to Endo for the app so far, looking forward to continued updates.
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  • 1
    Endo PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE utilise the ascent and descent information you give us after each workout and input that data into your overall calorie consumption formula!

    For example if i do say a 10mile walk but 50% of it is over strongly variable altitudes (namley traversing high hills etc) then I would like a more accurate overview of calories burned as obviously the intensity is far greater when climbing higher trails and I would like my results to accurately reflect this.

    Basing my current results on a loose formulaic equation (height, age and activity) is not near close enough. Moreover, your heart rate monitoring... sadly I feel at a loss here... I feel skeptikal about getting a top-notch HRM to waste on such poor approximations when again the increased intensity of the activity is not being reflected in my results. I assume from my readouts that my current stats are incorrectly estimating that I have been trekking a relatively flat terrain as they seem to never change irrispective of the fact I have climbed much higher and harder? This inacurracy is really deflating.

    I know this is not an "exact" science, but this issue is clearly vexing a lot of fellow users, and although we clearly appreciate your application for the most part, I know we would certainly appreciate it if this could be looked into further...

    To quote some noteworthy points from realtive studies; "It has already been scientifically concluded that it's possible to estimate physical activity energy expenditure from HeartRate in a group of individuals with a great deal of accuracy, after adjusting for age, gender, body mass and fitness levels." This subsequently would be a great model for Endo to follow as in order to quantify the effects of factors such as mode of exercise (tick), body composition (not currently an option with Endo) and training on the relationship between heart rate and physical activity energy expenditure (Endo could again improve here) all these factors should be included. These points are not an unrealistic ask, we're not asking for a severely precise measure of fitness (such as VO2max) but these simple basics which are being omitted need not be.

    To summise the finer issues; your formula which currently calculates our calorie consumption could atleast comprise more of the info we initaially provide you with (a great start here could simply be adding more precise activity options for us all to first select from your list, and say our body composition if we have entered this information), furthermore if you could update your equations to include the information that you gain from our av speed, altitude changes and even HR differentials, well this would be brilliant.

    Come on Endo! x
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