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How Many Calories Are Burned Doing Various Exercises?

author image Brett Denton
Brett Denton is a fitness writer in Boise, Idaho. Denton’s work regularly appears on and He graduated from Boise State University with a degree in exercise science.

Calculating the amount of calories burned during a specified exercise is far from a perfect science. We can come close, but it is an estimate. The amount of calories burned depends on many factors, including intensity of work performed, body weight, body/skill efficiency, age, sex, body composition and size.

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To calculate the amount of calories burned doing one of the activities below, use the following equation:

(Number given below) (Body weight in pounds) (Time in hours) = Calories burned

The following is a list of the calories per hour per pound of body weight burned during exercise at a comfortable pace:

Badminton: 2.6 Bicycling, 10 mph: 2.7 Dancing, ballroom: 1.6 Dancing, modern: 2.6 Golf, walking: 2.3 Hiking, hills: 3.6 Horseback riding, trot: 2.8 Jogging, 6 mph: 4.2 Jumping rope: 3.8 Racquetball: 4.1 Rowing machine: 3.1 Scuba diving: 3.8 Skating, ice: 2.6 Skiing, downhill: 2.6 Skiing, cross-country: 3.7 Snowshoe walking: 4.5 Soccer: 3.7 Squash: 4.3 Swimming, slow crawl: 3.5 Table tennis: 1.9 Tennis, singles: 2.9 Tennis, doubles: 1.8 Volleyball: 2.2 Walking, 3.5 mph: 2.4 Water-skiing: 3.0 Weight training: 1.9

Daily Work Activities

The following is a list of the calories per hour per pound of body weight burned during daily activities at a comfortable pace:

Farming, light: 2.3 Farming, heavy: 3.2 Gardening, hoe, dig: 3.2 Chopping wood: 2.3 Horse grooming: 3.5 House cleaning: 1.6 Mopping: 1.7 Painting, outside: 2.1 Sawing, by hand: 3.3 Scrubbing floors: 2.9 Snow shoveling, light: 2.9

Beware of Straight Numbers

Tables and figures like the ones above are a good estimate of how many calories are burned only while performing the actual task, but they do not take into account the anaerobic aspects of exercise and the excess postexercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). As an example, weight training appears to burn fewer calories than walking, but weightlifters have less fat and are in better shape (as a general rule) than people who just walk. There are several reasons for this, two of which being:

• Weightlifting builds muscle, which in turn raises the body’s basil metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the amount of calories needed to sustain basic cellular functions. Therefore, when BMR is raised, you burn a greater amount of calories 24 hours a day.

• EPOC from weightlifting, sprinting and other anaerobic activities causes elevated metabolic rates above resting levels. This means you are burning calories after you are done participating in said activities.

The majority of tables documenting calories burned during exercise do not take into account these factors. The tables also fail to account for the many variables of weight training, such as the amount of weight, compound or multi-joint versus single-joint, the rest intervals, the number of sets and reps, and the total duration of the session Therefore, actual number of calories burned by participating in various activities, particularly those anaerobic in nature, is greater than stated on a standard table.

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