How many calories do I burn when…?

It depends.

I know you don’t like to hear this vague response when you ask a direct question, but it’s the most accurate response: it depends.  Take this question for example:  how many calories do I burn running on a treadmill? It depends.

The number of calories you burn doing a specific type of activity depend on a number of things.  With the treadmill example, it depends on your current weight, how long you plan to workout, how fast you are planning to run/walk and what level of incline you use.  See what I mean?  Too many variables floating around for a brief and satisfying response.

I encourage people to use the Rate of Perceived Exertion(RPE) to guide their intensity – that’s the scale from 1 to 10 that helps you gauge your effort.

But, for those of you who like your numbers in calories – here’s a chart that might help.  Look at this chart as a very general guide.  These numbers are based on 30 minutes of physical activity and there is no sex attributed to these three different weight categories.

  125lbs 155lbs 185lbs
Gym Activities      
Weight Lifting: general 90 112 133
Aerobics: water 120 149 178
Stretching, Hatha Yoga 120 149 178
Aerobics: low impact 165 205 244
Aerobics: low impact 165 205 244
Stair Step Machine: general 180 223 266
Teaching aerobics 180 223 266
Weight Lifting: vigorous 180 223 266
Aerobics, Step: low impact 210 260 311
Aerobics: high impact 210 260 311
Bicycling, Stationery: moderate 210 260 311
Rowing, Stationery: moderate 210 260 311
Calisthenics: vigorous 240 298 355
Circuit Training: general 240 298 355
Rowing, Stationery: vigorous 255 316 377

For more information about this chart or more examples of activities, please visit the Harvard Health Publications website.

Remember if you are working out to increase fitness, exercise should feel a little uncomfortable.  Your workout should allow for a significant chunk of huffing and puffing time!  Generally, as prescribed by the Canadian Physical Activity Guide, you need at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous level of physical activity 3 times a week (at the very least!).

– Marlin


2 responses to “How many calories do I burn when…?

  1. Recently, one of my son’s spent some time volunteering at a carnival. While I watched him with all the kids working with younger kids and having a great time, I noticed a table set up and lined with all sorts of drinks. Hmmmm, I thought. This looks interesting. I strolled over to the table sponsored by Strong4Life and was thrilled (and a little horrified) with their presentation. Let me back up to a few of the arguments I have been having with my boys. I have been really on my soapbox about a growing habit they seemed to be forming of reaching for a sports drink every day “just because it’s there”. They would choose a sports drink without having broken a sweat! I mean, getting out of the car, carrying a bookbag all the way to door after a long and challenging day of school just doesn’t seem to warrant a sports drink! Even on lots of their practice days they aren’t sweating profusely enough to loose enough electrolytes and glycogen to actually need to replenish it with a sugar loaded sports drink. So, now you get the drift of my most recent “health challenge” in my home. So, imagine my interest and inner “I told you so!” when I saw a table set out specifically showing the amount of sugar in one of the popular sports drinks . . .and from the shape of the bottle in the photo you can use your imagination to determine which it is.Strong4Kids is an organization sponsored by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta with a mission to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow. Their main objective is to tackle childhood obesity which is becoming a crisis.During this event they had banners, games, hula hoop contests and all sorts of fun “moving” activities for the kids. They had flyers available with their mission and tips for adults to help get our children more active and make healthier choices.They could see what they were drinking, which is often where a lot of empty and sneaky calories are consumed.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! We agree! Sports drinks are designed for athletes (professional and perhaps recreational) who are sweating a lot (loosing water and electrolytes as you said) and not as a daily habit for kids! Water is best for hydration, and for kids to grab when they are thirsty. Thanks again for your comment-keep on your “soapbox” about kids making healthy food AND DRINK choices!! Have a great day!

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