Map My Run is a popular mobile and desktop app for new and seasoned runners. It offers route finding and mapping, a history of workouts, and even a community element to track friends’ progress and participate in challenges. When an athlete tracks a run with Map My Run, it collects data to display when the run is complete, including calories burned during a workout. But how accurate are Map My Run calories?
When starting a new physical activity, every runner should ask themselves what their goals are. Running is a great way to build an active, healthy lifestyle. It requires very little gear to get started, and can be done virtually anywhere.
Some people run for reflective time, others depend on it for accountability or socializing with like-minded people, and some use it to complement other fitness pursuits. Running has many forms as well. You can run marathons outside or run barefoot on a treadmill in your basement – it all depends on what you want. The amount of calories can also vary – a marathon burns around 2,600 calories due to it’s long distance and duration.
Personal goals can include building endurance, gaining speed, and managing weight. When setting personal goals to lose, maintain, or gain weight, counting calories is one way to evaluate that progress. A variety of apps can help with this, including Map My Run.
How Does Map My Run Calculate Calories?
Map My Run calculates calories using a variety of data points, including age, height, weight, gender, workout intensity, distance, and activity type. Their calorie-count algorithm is based on established, scientific research detailed in the Compendium of Physical Activities (the Compendium).
According to Map My Run, as of April 2019, they’ve improved how they calculate calories based on the recommendations from the Compendium.
Developed in 1989 and updated in 1993, 2000, and most recently 2011, the Compendium was designed to standardize Metabolic Equivalent (MET) values. The 2011 update to the Compendium updated existing MET codes with published evidence to support the values, and added new codes based on acquired knowledge about new and popular activities. According to the Compendium, running a 12-minute mile is equivalent to 8.3 METs, whereas running a 6-minute mile is 14.5 METs. The harder the effort, the more energy expended.
In short, METs are a way to measure the body’s energy expenditure during physical activity, which, alongside all of the user-input data in Map My Run, translates to burning calories. The body burns calories all day long, even when resting. Map My Run estimates calories by evaluating total burn, or calories burned during both active and resting phases. Users can get a sense of overall calories burned throughout the day, as well as calories burned during tracked activities, such as during a run.
How Accurate Is Map My Run Calories?
Because it relies on user-provided data to calculate caloric burn, Map My Run’s calories are only as accurate as the data the app has been provided. User profiles and workouts missing key data will not record calories correctly. Additionally, profiles need to be updated regularly to reflect changes in weight.
Body composition makes a difference in caloric burn. According to the Mayo Clinic:
While Map My Run’s algorithm can make some assumptions based on age, height, and weight, it doesn’t truly know the difference between a 175-pound person with more muscle versus more fat.
Despite applying a sophisticated algorithm backed by data from the Compendium, Map My Run’s calories aren’t perfectly accurate. This tool is merely meant to offer an approximation of calories burned at rest and during activity.
What Is the Most Accurate Way to Track Calories?
Tracking calories isn’t a one-sided activity. While estimating calories burned is useful, tracking caloric intake is equally, if not more, important. So, what is the most accurate way to track calories?
Map My Run’s sister app, My Fitness Pal, is an easy way to track both caloric intake and burn. For example, a runner completes a marathon and tracked the activity in Map My Run. When the apps are connected, those calories burned during a marathon will port into My Fitness Pal and tell the athlete approximately how many calories they need to consume to break even.
Although, it’s not every day a runner needs to know their calories burned during a marathon. When tracking calories day-to-day, My Fitness Pal offers an extensive library of whole and prepared foods to select from, while also giving users the ability to add new foods.
How accurate is map my run calories information? Many variables affect the accuracy of Map My Run’s calorie counting abilities. Even across all of the available apps and wearables on the market, calorie counting is more of an art than a science. If weight management is a personal goal, tracking calories is just one way to measure progress. When balancing physical activity with a healthy diet, calorie counting offers a visual approximation of both energy input and output, helping people achieve balance and better health.