Which Activities Burn the Most Calories?
Our bodies compute our caloric needs like the ultimate algebraic equation. Subtract calories consumed from calories burned. Factor in basic metabolism, body functions and exercise. Adjust for donuts and divide by skinny jeans. Wait! It's got to be easier than that. Just how many calories do we really burn on an average day? How about when we exercise? How many does the average man or woman need and how many do we need to cut to lose weight?
The Mayo Clinic explains how calories affect our weight. "Weight is dependent on the balance of total calories consumed versus total calories burned. Take in more calories than your body needs, and you gain weight. Take in less and you lose weight. Metabolism is the engine that burns these calories."
The number of calories we burn each day is your total energy expenditure and is broken down into three factors: Basal Metabolic Rate, food processing and physical activity.
1. Our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the amount of energy it takes to make our bodies work, including: vital organs, circulation, respiration, hormone manufacturing, etc. It's what we burn just being alive. Our BMR accounts for two-thirds to three-quarters of the calories used each day. Our BMR is relatively stable on a day-to-day basis and uses about the same number of calories.
2. Food processing. About 10 percent of our daily calories are burned dealing with the food we eat through digestion, absorption, transportation and storage. This rate is also relatively stable on a day-to-day basis.
3. Physical Activity is the part we have some control over and accounts for the remainder of calories used. The number of calories burned depends on the frequency, duration and intensity of your activities. Sitting on the couch burns almost none. To lose one pound, you have to burn 3500 calories more than your body needs, either by increasing physical activity or by reducing calorie intake. The most successful weight loss plans include both.
Just how many calories do we need? It varies from person to person depending on body type, how much exercise they get, and health status. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a chart that helps calculate your specific caloric needs.
The chart below is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and estimates the number of calories burned in an hour by an average healthy person weighing 150 pounds.
|Activity||Calories Burned per Hour*|
|Bicycling, 6 mph||240|
|Bicycling, 12 mph||410|
|Jogging, 5½ mph||740|
|Jogging, 7 mph||920|
|Running in place||650|
|Running, 10 mph||1280|
|Swimming, 25 yds./min.||275|
|Swimming, 50 yds./min.||500|
|Walking, 2 mph||240|
|Walking, 3 mph||320|
|Walking, 4½ mph||440|
Once you've figured out your BMR, factored in your activity calories, you can do your own algebra about how many donuts you can afford before your jeans won't fit.
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.