7 Exercises That Can Torch 500 Calories in No Time

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Biking is a great cardio workout for weight loss that torches plenty of calories.
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It's simple math: If you burn more calories than you consume, you'll lose weight. But when you're looking to shed some pounds, it's easy to get caught up — or even obsessed with — counting calories, including how many you eat and how many you torch through exercise. This trap is especially common if you wear a fitness tracker.

But you shouldn't only think of working out as a means to an end or a way to burn off what you've put on your plate. This type of mindset can lead to an unhealthy relationship with exercise and food. For a healthier approach, find an activity you love and do it regularly because it makes you feel good.

That said, if you're committed to shedding some pounds, exercise can help you reach your goal.

For slow and steady weight loss, you'll need to slash your calories by about 500 a day to drop 1 pound per week, according to the Mayo Clinic. Though you shouldn't fixate on numbers, it's helpful to have a general idea of how many calories you're burning so you can adjust your diet and weekly workout strategy accordingly.

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How Do You Measure Calories Burned?

True, the general equation is straightforward — if you eat fewer calories than you expend, you lose weight — but determining how many calories you burn every day is actually quite complex.

That's because the amount depends on three factors: your BMR (basal metabolic rate), TEF (thermic effect of food) and activity level, says Brooke Van Paris, CPT, a certified personal trainer at Life Time Deerfield Township.

BMR deals with how many calories your body needs to survive and function daily (i.e. the amount your body burns at rest), while TEF relates to how many calories your body needs to digest the foods you consume, Van Paris says.

Your activity level, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of the calories you burn daily, is a function of how long you exercise (duration in minutes), your weight and your metabolic equivalent for task (MET), or the amount of energy used in physical activity, Van Paris explains.

Sound complicated? It is. That's why you might lean on fitness trackers to help you calculate.

Curious exactly how many calories you burn during your workouts? Download the MyPlate app for a more accurate and customized estimate.

Exercises That Burn 500 Calories

To eliminate the guesswork for you, below, with the help of the Calorie Control Council's Get Moving! Calculator, we've computed general estimates to show you how many minutes you need to spend doing some of your favorite (and most common) exercises to burn approximately 500 calories.

Keep in mind that doing a mix of both strength training and cardiovascular activity is the most effective weight-loss strategy, Van Paris says.

New to exercise? Walking is the perfect place to start.
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1. Brisk Walking (4 Miles Per Hour)

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

103 minutes

180 pounds

92 minutes

200 pounds

83 minutes

220 pounds

75 minutes

250 pounds

66 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

"Great for exercise newbies, people with big weight-loss goals or those with lower-body injuries, walking is an ideal low-intensity activity that can be used for starting off your fitness journey, limiting impact on the lower body and is great for an active recovery day," Van Paris says.

If you're walking on a treadmill, you may even kick up the intensity by raising the incline. Just don't make it so steep that you're forced to hold onto the railings. Doing that creates a way less effective workout, Van Paris says.

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2. Running (12-Minute Mile)

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

52 minutes

180 pounds

46 minutes

200 pounds

42 minutes

220 pounds

38 minutes

250 pounds

33 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

High-energy cardio exercises like running are great for weight loss. "Cardio will help your heart get bigger, stronger and more efficient at burning calories," Van Paris says.

To torch a ton of calories and fat, Van Paris recommends incorporating high-intensity intervals into your runs.

Unlike vigorous steady-state cardio — which uses up your stored carbohydrates after only about 20 minutes of effort and forces your body to metabolize muscle (instead of fat) for energy — interval training promotes fat burn and a higher VO2 Max, according to Van Paris, who suggests aiming for one minute of maximum effort followed by two easy minutes (repeated 10 times).

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When injuries prevent you from running or walking for exercise, try hitting the pool.
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3. Swimming

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

70 minutes

180 pounds

62 minutes

200 pounds

55 minutes

220 pounds

50 minutes

250 pounds

44 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

Van Paris recommends swimming for those with lower-body injuries and large weight-loss goals, since splashing around in the pool "limits the impact on the joints significantly."

Plus, you can swim at all levels of intensity, making this cardio exercise ideal for vigorous workouts and recovery days alike.

4. Biking (10-11.9 Miles Per Hour)

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

70 minutes

180 pounds

62 minutes

200 pounds

55 minutes

220 pounds

50 minutes

250 pounds

44 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

Don't have a bike? No worries. You have plenty of options to ride at your gym.

For a higher-calorie burn, Van Paris suggests using a spin bike. This type simulate outdoor riding "because you're moving up and down off the saddle and driving hard for big climbs," she says.

Conversely, recumbent bikes will be best for lower-intensity activity or recovery days. That's because "your heart doesn't have to work as hard when you're sitting down or in a reclined position," Van Paris says, adding that these bikes are great for those with lower-body injuries and bigger weight-loss goals.

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Circuit training is a flexible kind of workout that can be done at home or in the gym.
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5. Circuit Training

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

52 minutes

180 pounds

46 minutes

200 pounds

42 minutes

220 pounds

38 minutes

250 pounds

33 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

Circuit training is a type of high-intensity workout that challenges you to perform a variety of different exercises in rapid succession, with little or no rest in between. Sets of each exercise last for as little as 20 seconds to as long as 5 minutes, with anywhere from 10 seconds to 5 minutes of rest between sets.

"You tend to burn a lot of calories training this way because rest times are limited, and you're constantly bouncing from one activity to the next, just as you would when doing interval-style training on cardio equipment or bodyweight HIIT," Van Paris says.

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6. Stair Climbing

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

70 minutes

180 pounds

62 minutes

200 pounds

55 minutes

220 pounds

50 minutes

250 pounds

44 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

"Stair climbing is a great cardio workout, specifically for the calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes," Van Paris says.

Plus, it promotes balance, increases core strength and builds your lower-body muscles while also preventing the risk of osteoporosis due to its weight-bearing characteristics, she says.

However, it may not be the best option if you're suffering from lower-body injuries or knee pain.

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Lifting weights may burn less calories in the moment, but adding muscle helps you burn more calories in the long run.
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7. Weight Lifting

Your Weight

Activity Time

160 pounds

138 minutes

180 pounds

123 minutes

200 pounds

110 minutes

220 pounds

100 minutes

250 pounds

88 minutes

Source: Calorie Control Council. “Get Moving! Calculator.”

"Strength training is a huge piece of the puzzle in weight loss because it yields an after-burn of calories for 48 to 72 hours and helps you gain muscle, which increases your BMR, so that you burn more calories even at rest," Van Paris says.

That's because "strength training breaks down the muscle fibers, and, to repair and recover these micro tears, your body requires energy in the form of calories," she explains.

For weight loss, Van Paris recommends lifting two to three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes per session with a range of 12 to 15 reps per exercise.

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