When the dessert tray comes around after you've eaten a salad with boneless, skinless chicken for dinner, you may find yourself trying to calculate the number of calories in those delicious-looking confections. At nine calories per gram, fat has twice as many calories as a gram of protein or carbohydrate, which both have four. High-fat foods have more calories and require more exercise to burn them off. If you understand how many calories different exercises burn, it may be easier to decide if that eclair is worth the splurge.
Running and Walking
Many people believe that running and walking the same distance burns the same number of calories, but that isn't true. A 2004 study in "Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise" found that the average female participant burned 74 calories when she walked 1 mile, but 105 calories by running the same distance. Running requires substantially more energy than walking, so it naturally burns about 50 percent more calories.
Indoor or outdoor cycling can be a great calorie burner. A 130-pound person bicycling at a moderate pace can burn up to 472 calories per hour. You can increase your calorie burn by holding a steady cadence while pedaling with moderate resistance. Another option is to take an indoor cycling class. Spinning.com reports that the average participant burns 400 to 600 calories during a 40-minute class.
The elliptical trainer is a popular low-impact cardio machine in many gyms. A 130-pound woman can burn around 200 calories during a moderate 30-minute workout on an elliptical. You can maximize your workouts on these machines by adding resistance and increasing the incline. If the machine has moving arm handles, incorporating your arms by pumping the handles will also increase your burn. Be forewarned though -- elliptical machines can overestimate the number of calories you really burn by as much as 40 percent.
Always talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you feel faint or dizzy at any point during your workout, stop immediately. You may get a closer estimation of the number of calories you actually burn during a workout by wearing a heart rate monitor that also reports calorie expenditure. You must burn 3,500 more calories than you take in, if you wish to lose 1 pound.
- Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; Energy Expenditure of Walking and Running: Comparison With Prediction Equations; C. Hall et al.
- Nutristrategy.com: Calories Burned Bike Riding or Cycling
- NCSF.org: Elliptical Trainers Over Estimate Caloric Expenditure
- Self.com: Health Calculator: Burn Calories
- 15 Minute Calorie Burn Workout; Efua Baker
- The Fat-Burning Workout: From Fat to Firm in 24 Days; Joyce L. Vedral
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.