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How Many Calories Am I Burning When I Exercise?

By Lisa Balbach


The number of calories you burn depends upon your weight, the activity your are doing and the intensity level you are exercising at. Any activity that you perform can be done at a variety of intensity levels. If you exercise at a higher intensity level, you will be working harder, expending more energy and burning more calories than someone who is not working quite so hard.

I've included four separate Activity/Calorie tables. The tables should be used as a general guideline (the numbers are approximations). The number of calories you actually burn could be slightly higher or lower depending upon your intensity level and your weight.

The first table deals with step aerobics only. Calories are calculated for different step heights based upon a stepping rate of 120 beats per minute for a 120 pound person. If you weigh more than 120 or you are in a faster paced step class, the number of calories you'll burn will be higher than those displayed in the table. If you weight less than 120 or you are in a slower paced step class, you'll burn fewer calories than indicated in the table. The table is just an approximation of the number of calories you expend. If you work at a more intense level (raise your arms above your shoulders, lift your knees all the way to your chest etc...) you will burn more calories than displayed. (Data for this table was taken from Reebok Instructor News, Volume 4, Number 3, 1991.)

Step Height
Calories/min.
Calories/10 min.
Calories/30 min.
4 inches
4.5
45
135
6 inches
5.5
55
165
8 inches
6.4
64
192
10 inches
7.2
72
216

The second table gives the caloric expenditure after 10 minutes of activity for various body weights. This data was obtained from Reebok Instructor News, Volume 4, Number 2, 1991.

Activity & Calories/10 min.
125 lbs
150 lbs
175 lbs
200 lbs
Aerobics (traditional at high intensity)
95
115
134
153
Gardening
41
49
57
65
Racquetball
75
90
105
120
Running (9 min/mile)
109
131
153
174
Shopping
35
42
49
56
Sitting (reading or watching TV)
10
12
14
16
Sleeping
10
12
14
16
Standing (light activity)
20
24
28
32
Volleyball
28
34
40
45
Walking (15 min/mile)
44
52
61
70
Walking upstairs
150
175
202
229

The third table lists a wide variety of exercises and the caloric expenditures for a 123 lb women and a 170 lb man. Data for this table was taken from Reebok Instructor News, Volume 5, Number 2, 1992.

Activity & Calories/10 min
123 lb women
170 lb man
Basketball
77
106
Cycling (5.5 mph)
36
49
Cycling (9.4 mph)
56
74
Cycling (racing)
95
130
Dance Exercise (High Impact Aerobics)
94
124
Dance Exercise (Low Impact Aerobics)
80
105
Football
74
102
Racquetball
76
107
Rope Skipping (slow)
82
116
Rope Skipping (fast)
100
142
Running (8 min/mile)
113
150
Running (11 1/2 min/mile)
76
100
Skiing (Cross Country)
80
106
Stairmaster
88
122
Step Aerobics (4 inch bench)
48
66
Step Aerobics (6 inch bench)
58
80
Step Aerobics (8 inch bench)
67
92
Step Aerobics (10 inch bench)
75
104
Soccer
78
107
Swimming (back stroke)
95
130
Swimming (breast stroke)
91
125
Swimming (fast crawl)
87
120
Swimming (slow crawl)
95
130
Swimming (side stroke)
68
90
Swimming (treading water)
35
48
Tennis (singles)
61
81
Volleyball
28
39
Weight training (super circuit)
104
137
Weight training (muscular strength)
44
60
Weight training (muscular endurance)
58
80
Walking (3.5 mph)
45
59

The last table displayed below is taken from ACE FitnessMatters, Volume 1, Number 4, 1995. Calories are given for 1 minute of activity. To determine approximately how many calories you burn in 1/2 hour. Find the activity and your weight, then multiply the number displayed by 30. If you want to lose weight, try to burn 300 calories per exercise session.

Activity & Calories/min
120 lbs
140 lbs
160 lbs
180 lbs
Aerobics (Traditional)
7.4
8.6
9.8
11.1
Basketball
7.5
8.8
10.0
11.3
Bowling
1.2
1.4
1.6
1.9
Cycling (10 mph)
5.5
6.4
7.3
8.2
Golf (pull/carry clubs)
4.6
5.4
6.2
7.0
Golf (power cart)
2.1
2.5
2.8
3.2
Hiking
4.5
5.2
6.0
6.7
Jogging
9.3
10.8
12.4
13.9
Running
11.4
13.2
15.1
17.0
Sitting Quietly
1.2
1.3
1.5
1.7
Skating (ice and roller)
5.9
6.9
7.9
8.8
Skiing (cross country)
7.5
8.8
10.0
11.3
Skiing (downhill and water)
5.7
6.6
7.6
8.5
Swimming (crawl and moderate pace)
7.8
9.0
10.3
11.6
Tennis
6.0
6.9
7.9
8.9
Walking
6.5
7.6
8.7
9.7
Weight Training
6.6
7.6
8.7
9.8

Cardio Equipment and Calories Burned
Just a word of warning regarding cardio equipment and calories burned. Many cardio machines don't ask for your weight and tell you that you're burning X number of calories. The number displayed is for a person of average weight (usually average is 150 pounds). For many people, the number of calories is overstated. So, if the machine doesn't have you input your weight, don't believe the number of calories displayed.

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