From walking to weightlifting, there are hundreds of ways to burn calories and lose weight. While all exercise help you burn calories, not all types of exercise are equally efficient and improving your cardiovascular health and burning fat.
In this blog post, we’ll compare some of the most popular forms of exercise – from jogging and swimming to weightlifting and tennis – to see which one burns calories at the fastest pace.
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Calculating your caloric needs
Before you start planning a workout routine, it’s important to determine your daily caloric needs. Everyone has a different body, and your weight and activity level are both variables that can have an impact on your basal metabolic rate.
Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories you burn every day without any exercise. Although it may not seem like you’re burning calories all the time, normal bodily functions like breathing and blood circulation all burn calories.
A variety of complicated formulas exist to help you calculate your basal metabolic rate. Most take several factors into account – your body mass and metabolism – to generate an average daily caloric intake that your body needs to function.
While your basal metabolic rate might seem like the only calories you burn every day, it’s far from it. From walking to weightlifting, the activities that you perform every day increase your metabolic requirements and minimum caloric intake.
Weight, intensity and exercise
It’s very hard to rank exercises in terms of calories burned for one reason: everyone works out at a different intensity level. There’s a big difference between jogging on a treadmill and sprinting, even though both exercises are different forms of running.
Because of the difference in intensity, one hour of jogging only burns a fraction as many calories as an hour of sprinting. Other factors like elevation also affect total calories burned – running uphill, for example, generally burns more calories than running downhill or on a level surface.
Finally, bodyweight has a major effect on caloric expenditure. A light person with a bodyweight of 120lbs will burn significantly fewer calories in an hour of swimming, for example, than someone with a bodyweight of 220lbs.
This means that when you calculate your caloric expenditure, you need to take your bodyweight into account. If you’re running on a treadmill, for example, make sure it is configured for your bodyweight before you start relying on the integrated calorie counter.
Sound confusing? Don’t worry – once you start exercising, you’ll understand how weight and activity level affect your calorie burning rate. Learn the basics of your body’s weight loss potential in our blog post on how to burn 10 pounds.
The most effective calorie-burning exercises
Although the total calories you’ll burn in an hour of exercise is determined by your weight and intensity, some exercises burn calories at a faster rate than others. Try one of these six exercises to burn calories and lose weight at a rapid pace.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for losing weight. At an average intensity and normal weight, an hour of swimming (freestyle, backstroke or breaststroke) burns approximately 800 calories.
Running is another great exercise for burning calories. Someone that weights 145lbs can burn approximately 300 calories in a half-hour of running at a normal pace, and more than 600 calories in an hour of moderate speed running.
Rowing is one of the best full-body cardio exercises, burning calories and working your arms and back at the same time. Someone that weights 145lbs can burn over 600 calories in an hour of running, as well as training their entire body’s muscles.
Cycling is a great cardiovascular exercise option. Unlike running, it’s a low-intensity form of exercise, which means your joints are unlikely to become injured. Someone that weighs 160lbs will burn approximately 850 calories in an hour of cycling.
Yoga is a great form of exercise, but its slow pace makes it an inefficient way to burn calories. In a one-hour yoga class, a person that weighs 160lbs will only burn about 200 calories. An hour of high-intensity yoga could burn up to 300 calories.
This doesn’t mean yoga is bad for losing weight, just that it’s a slower way to burn calories than other forms of cardio. Yoga is an excellent way to improve your body, as it develops your cardiovascular health and muscular strength at the same time.
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Weight training and calories
Most people think of cardio as the most efficient way to burn calories and slim down their waistline. Weight training, while not as efficient at calorie burning as cardio, is also a great way to slim down your body and firm up your muscles.
An hour of high-intensity weight training burns between 200 and 400 calories for a person that weighs 160lbs. Circuit training, which combines weightlifting and cardio exercise, can burn as much as 600 calories in an hour.
In addition to this, weight training increases the amount of dietary protein that goes to your muscles, preventing it to being stored as fat. It also increases your output of growth hormones, which aid weight loss and keep your body running smoothly.
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Learn more about weight loss
Losing weight can be tough, especially when you’re new to exercising and eating a healthy diet. Read our blog post on losing weight in 2014 to learn how to stick to your workout and diet routine and achieve the weight loss results you want.