Along with boosting your health, exercise increases calorie expenditure to help you lose or maintain weight. While the number of calories burned per session varies with the type of exercise and the intensity at which it is performed, any workout is decidedly superior at fighting fat than sitting on the couch. If you’re a beginner, ease gently into a routine without stressing over the calorie count — and see your doctor before starting a program.
Vigorous aerobic exercise tops the list for calorie burning. A 155-pound person burns about 372 calories in half an hour jumping rope, doing high-impact step aerobics or running at 6 mph. Moderate aerobic exercises are less efficient at burning calories. For example, in 30 minutes that 155-pound person burns just 149 calories walking at 3.5 mph, or 205 doing low-impact aerobics. If half an hour of vigorous activity is too taxing for your fitness level, you can still up your calorie burn with intervals. For example, walk for a few minutes, run for one minute, then repeat.
Strength training is an important component of a balanced workout routine, but it typically burns fewer calories than vigorous aerobic activity. Lifting weights, a 155-pound person burns about 112 calories in a moderate 30-minute session, or 223 calories in a vigorous half-hour workout. Performing body-weight exercises such as pushups, situps and lunges, the same person burns about 167 calories in 30 minutes. Despite these relatively low numbers, strength training builds muscle, which increases your calorie-burning potential, even when you’re at rest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that strength training could boost your metabolism by as much as 15 percent.
THE WEIGHT FACTOR
Your body weight affects how many calories you burn during workouts; the more you weigh, the more you burn. And it may not seem fair, but as you lose weight, calorie burning will drop. For example, a 125-pound person only burns about 300 calories in 30 minutes performing the same activities that burn 372 calories for the 155-pound person. A 185-pound person will burn an impressive 444 calories doing the exact same thing.
CALORIES IN PERSPECTIVE
For successful weight management, look at your overall calorie balance, including food intake. One pound of body fat is equal to about 3,500 calories — much more than one exercise session will burn off. But you can lose that pound in a week by creating a 500-calorie deficit each day. If you usually burn 2,000 calories a day — a typical amount for many women — you can create this deficit by eating 1,800 calories per day and burning 300 extra calories per day through exercise. Men generally burn 400 to 600 more calories in a day than women.