When you're sweating away on the track or at the gym, it can be easy to forget your end goal of weight loss and decide to curl up with a book or go shopping instead. But tracking the calories you burn while exercising can help you stay motivated to sculpt the body of your dreams. Weight loss can be a slow process because you need to burn 3,500 calories to lose a pound of fat, but when you track your calories and see the number you're burning begin to add up, all that time exercising can begin to seem worth the effort.
Time yourself exercising to get a precise measure of how long you spend on your fitness routine. The duration of your routine is very important for calculating the calories you burn.
Measure the intensity of your workout. High-intensity workouts generally result in faster breathing and a higher heart rate. If you can't carry on a conversation, you're engaged in a high-intensity workout. If, however, you can talk fairly easily and don't feel excessively winded, your workout is probably low to moderate intensity.
Weigh yourself. While most people get anxious about weighing themselves, this is not a time to fudge the numbers, because your weight affects how many calories you burn. Heavier people usually burn more calories than lighter people when they're doing exercises of the same intensity and duration.
Put your weight, the duration of your workout and the intensity of your workout into a calories-burned calculator, or use an online chart. This will give you a rough estimate of the amount of calories you burn during your workout. To determine how many calories you're burning in a week, multiply the number of calories by the number of days you do the exercise. For example, if you run three days per week and burn 200 calories doing so, then your running helps you burn 600 calories per week.
- You don't just burn calories while exercising. Even while sitting or sleeping, you're burning calories. If you plug the time you spend sitting, sleeping and engaging in other everyday activities into a calorie calculator, you can get a good estimate of the number of calories you burn in a day.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.