MHLbannersmallA look at the energy it takes to do the
things you do

We've all had one of those days, after high level exercise or other intense physical activity when you load the plate with something extra for dinner or maybe go for more dessert than usual. Why? Chances are you're hungrier than usual, but there's also a sense that you deserve it after all that effort. And if you need to justify the additional intake you can always tell yourself or anyone listening that you expended a lot of energy. And everybody knows when you exert energy you burn calories.

mathThat energy/calorie relationship – a calorie being a measure of energy just as a pound is a measure of weight – is real and you most certainly burn calories during activity, but the real question is how many? It's a question you should ask, and the answer may surprise you.

The good news is that there are a number of relatively inexpensive calculators designed to tell you how many calories you burn during your favorite activities and how long you should do an activity to lose weight. There are also some web sites available that can provide the same or similar calculations related to activities. The chart we've included offers quite a few activities with a range of weight – because the amount of calories you burn will vary by body weight and composition. Keep in mind that the chart offers a good estimate (especially if you're close to the weight examples), but to get more accurate information you need a calculating device that also measures your heart rate for each activity.

We didn't include some favorite activities like shopping, talking on the phone, lying on the beach and texting. Regarding the latter, you can burn quite a few calories sending messages, as long as you're on a treadmill – at a 12 degree angle moving at 7 mph – while you're texting. Otherwise, texting comes in at around 40 calories an hour… which means it would take around five days to lose a pound, if you ate or drank nothing during that time! The rule of thumb for calorie burning is the more strenuous the activity, and the longer the duration, the greater the burn rate. So pick an activity, pick several activities, and enjoy. One other thing: in general, it takes an expenditure of around 3,500 calories to lose a pound.

Activity (1 hour duration)

Weight of Person & Number of Calories Burned 160 lbs 200 lbs 240 lbs
Aerobics, high impact 533 664 796
Aerobics, low impact 365 455 545
Aerobics, water 402 501 600
Backpacking 511 637 763
Basketball game 584 728 872
Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisure 292 364 436
Bowling 219 273 327
Canoeing 256 319 382
Dancing, ballroom 219 273 327
Football, touch or flag 584 728 872
Golfing, carrying clubs 314 391 469
Hiking 438 546 654
Ice skating 511 637 763
Racquetball 511 637 763
Resistance (weight) training 365 455 545
Rollerblading 548 683 818
Rope jumping 861 1,074 1,286
Rowing, stationary 438 546 654
Running, 5 mph 606 755 905
Running, 8 mph 861 1,074 1,286
Skiing, cross-country 496 619 741
Skiing, downhill 314 391 469
Skiing, water 438 546 654
Softball or baseball 365 455 545
Stair treadmill 657 819 981
Swimming, laps 423 528 632
Tae kwon do 752 937 1,123
Tai chi 219 273 327
Tennis, singles 584 728 872
Volleyball 292 364 436
Walking, 2 mph 204 255 305
Walking, 3.5 mph 314 391 469