How Calorie Burn Works
There are endless ways to get the exercise you need to stay healthy. Sick of the gym? Try going dancing or cleaning up the yard. Small, fun activities can help you stay fit and lose fat.
How many calories burned by an exercise depends on how big you are. It takes more energy to move a bigger body. When he was starting out at 600 pounds, Bodybuilding.com model "Possible Pat" Brocco experienced serious weight loss simply by walking to the grocery store every day.
Keep in mind that the calorie numbers here are just estimates. How hard you work makes a difference in how many calories you burn, so don't just phone it in.
And of course, hundreds of calories burned won't add up to much weight loss if you're eating hundreds of calories too many. Use our calorie calculator to make sure you're eating the right amount.
Guide to Calories Burned During Exercise
Exercises That Burn 100 Calories
|Power Walking||15 minutes|
|Stretching and Calisthenics||30 minutes|
|Shorter Rest Periods||1 workout|
|Taking the Stairs||6 times|
|Parking Farther Away||Every time|
|Window Shopping||25 minutes|
|Forearm Flexing||5-6 sets|
Exercises That Burn 200 Calories
|Easy Bike Riding||35 minutes|
|Scrubbing Floors||40 minutes|
|Mowing the Lawn||35 minutes|
|Dog Walking||40 minutes|
|Walking at Lunch||30 minutes|
|Beach Volleyball||23 minutes|
|Jumping Rope||17 minutes|
Exercises That Burn 300 Calories
|Cross Country Skiing||18 minutes|
|Rock Climbing||36 minutes|
|Ultimate Frisbee||48 minutes|
|Standing at Work||8 hours|
|Shoveling Snow||38 minutes|
|Walking on the Beach||55 minutes|
|Washing Your Car||63 minutes|
Activities That Burn 100 Calories
These exercises are great if you're short on time or are just getting into fitness. Just string several together over the course of a day. They're not too tough, so don't worry about messing up your recovery from your usual workout sessions. In fact, many people find that low-intensity activity actually helps muscle soreness.
1. Power walk before breakfast
There's nothing like a quick walk first thing in the morning to chalk up some burned calories and give you energy for the day ahead. Walking also helps you keep your weight in check.
"If you're really trying to change your body composition, drink ample water and consider throwing in some BCAAs to help give you energy and promote muscle anabolism," recommends physique competitor Collin Wasiak.
2. Go dancing on a Friday evening
Take your partner out for an evening of dancing to kill the work-week stress and boost your fitness at the same time.
3. Perform stretching and calisthenics while watching TV in the evening
Watching TV is just about the lowest-calorie-burning activity you could do. Rev up your burn by exercising at the same time. Add a some stretching, lunges, planks, and push-ups to push up how many calories you burn.
4. Reduce your workout rest periods from 60 to 30 seconds
By doing shorter rest periods between the sets of a strength training workout, you'll increase your post-workout calorie burn (called EPOC) for up to 48 hours. Of course, the level of boost you'll get depends on the intensity of exercises you choose. If you're going to cut down rest periods, use moderate weights that you can handle for around 10-12 reps per set.
5. Take the stairs rather than the elevator during the work day
Taking the stairs boosts your energy since it gets blood flowing while strengthening your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It's a great way to increase how many calories you burn every day.
6. Park and Walk
"One of the best ways to up your number of calories burned daily is to simply walk more often. Rather than finding the closest parking spot you can, park a distance away and walk the rest," recommends Wasiak.
"You might even invest in a pedometer to wear throughout the day so you can keep trying to beat your previous day's total step count," explains 2013 Ms. Bikini Olympia Ashley Kaltwasser.
7. Rake your front lawn
You might not think of raking as exercise, but it builds upper-body strength and burns calories quickly. Lunge into the movement to work your lower body as well.
8. Cook a healthy meal
Take the time on a low-key weeknight to make something special and healthy. Cooking for just half an hour will burn up 100 calories, helping you keep your evening calorie balance in check.
9. Go window shopping with a friend
"Rather than sitting for coffee, go window shopping and keep on the move. It's the fit way to socialize," says Kaltwasser.
10. Flex Your Forearm at Your Desk
(3-minute intervals, 5-6 sets)
Here's one from fitness competitor Wasiak: A great way to burn calories and boost strength is to bring a forearm grip to work and whenever you have a moment, do a set of 40-50 squeezes. Do this exercise 5-6 times per day and you'll have way better grip strength, which also means better gym performance. Plus, of course, more calories burned every day.
Activities That Burn 200 Calories
Melting 200 calories takes a little more work, but you can still easily fit these into your day.
1. Go for an easy bike ride
Cycling is a great way to make your lower-body stronger. It makes your heart and lungs stronger too. Hit the road for a bike ride after dinner. It doesn't have to be hard, either! You might not even break a sweat.
2. Do supersets in the gym
Instead of doing your usual straight-set workout, try supersetting two exercises back-to-back, resting only after you finish both moves.
"I increase my calories in the gym by supersetting body parts like chest and back, while resting very little between sets," says former competitive bodybuilder and supplement company CEO Rich Gaspari on how he gets lean.
He adds that for a real challenge, you can also do a "compound set" by combining a multijoint and a single-joint move. In this case, they should work the same muscle group, like dumbbell presses and dumbbell flyes for chest.
3. Scrub the floors
OK, we didn't say they'd all be fun. But washing floors is a great way to work your core, upper body, and lower body and will help you add more movement to your day. And your floors will finally be clean.
4. Mow the front and back lawn
Cutting your lawn each week is a great way to build exercise into your lifestyle. Use a push mower, and you'll burn 200 calories in just over 30 minutes. Writing a check to the gardener just won't cut it.
5. Play tennis
Tennis is a fast-paced game that does more than burn calories. It also boosts your hand-eye coordination and strengthens your core, lower body, and arms.
6. Hit a park trail and walk your dog
Your pet needs exercise, too! Take your dog out for a walk each night after dinner and watch your fat burn go up.
7. Head out of the office for lunch
"Instead of spending your lunch break at your desk, eat before or after and use that time to head out for a walk or jog," recommends Wasiak.
The fresh air will give you energy, and you'll be more ready to work hard when you return. In the winter, the extra sunlight will also be good for your mood.
8. Bowl three games
Bowling is a fun activity to do with friends while you burn calories at the same time. Plus, cute shoes. Unfortunately, if you load up on nachos and beer while you play, this doesn't count as calorie-burning.
9. Play a game of beach volleyball
Beach volleyball is a great lower-body workout. The sand is harder to push against than solid ground. It's a perfect hot-weather calorie-burning activity.
10. Skip rope
Skipping rope is fun, and it can burn major calories because your shoulders, arms, and legs are all working hard. If you need a break from your usual cardio, this is a great choice.
Activities That Burn 300 Calories
For those of you who want to triple your calories burned and make a strong weight-loss effort, here are 10 more activities to choose from. Most of these are nearly full workouts in themselves, so try to plan them for an off day from your strength-training sessions.
1. Go cross-country skiing
Few activities burn as many calories as cross-country skiing. Skiing works your legs, core, and arms while making you break a sweat during the cold weather. And since you'll probably be going for longer than just 18 minutes, you're really going to amp up your weight-loss.
2. Rollerblade on a sunny day
On warmer days, rollerblading is a great way to get some exercise. It works your quads and glutes to the extreme, and helps you torch calories quickly. Just make sure you know how to stop!
3. Take a rock-climbing class
If you're looking for a challenge, a rock-climbing class might just be the perfect fit. You'll strengthen all the upper-body muscles while boosting your core strength as well.
It's common to spend a couple hours at the climbing gym, so the total number of calories burned will likely be much higher than 300. Plus, if weight loss is your goal, knowing you'll have to pull your body up a wall is good motivation.
4. Play ultimate Frisbee
Ultimate Frisbee is a game to be enjoyed as a group, so it's perfect for larger barbecues or get-togethers. Keep up the pace to burn calories quickly!
5. Work at a Standing Desk
You only burn so many calories sitting and staring at a screen. One of the hot trends right now is the standing or even walking desk, which allows you to stand or walk all day long instead of sit. For the office worker, this can be a win-win.
"This is a great way to burn more calories all day and reduce the health effects of prolonged sitting," explains Wasiak.
6. Clear your walk and driveways of snow
Shoveling snow is one of the best ways to hold off winter weight gain. It also makes everyone's life a lot easier. To prevent back pain, make sure to bend from your knees, not just your back.
7. Go for an afternoon kayak
If you live near water, kayaking is another great activity you can do in a short afternoon to work the upper body and core. If you've never kayaked before, get ready to be challenged.
8. Play a game of baseball
Baseball is a great summertime league sport that's fun with friends, especially when you don't feel like hitting the gym for cardio. Find an adult amateur league through your city's parks and rec department or YMCA.
9. Go for a walk on the beach
If you're lucky enough to live near a beach, enjoy it by going for walks. The sand works your calves and lower-body muscles far more than walking on pavement.
10. Wash your car inside and out
Keep your car clean as part of your active lifestyle. The exercise you get washing the outside and detailing the inside of your car can burn up to 300 calories.
11. Go for a short run or jog
This list wouldn't be complete without the most classic calorie-burning exercise: running.
You don't have to train for a marathon to rack up a bunch of calories burned. An easy 20-minute run is enough to burn around 300 calories for most people.
Add a few minutes of walking before, after, and in the middle of your run to make your workout longer and more effective.