When you're trying to lose weight, calories occupy a large part of your thought process. From how many calories you consume to the number of calories you burn, you spend many minutes a day thinking about this small unit of energy that leads to big changes in your body. Common workouts such as swimming, biking, aerobic dancing and jogging may top your list of calorie-burning choices. Running burns the most, especially when you add high-intensity intervals to your routine.
Food contains calories that your body converts into energy for use, or into fat for storage for use at a later date. When you consume more calories than you use, your fat stores increase. To lose 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you eat. Aerobic exercises use a large number of calories, and you can increase the number of calories burned by increasing the duration of your workout.
Running, which is faster than jogging, burns the most calories and is different for each person. A speed that equals a jog to you may be a run to someone else. A general guideline, according to the authors of "Exercise Physiology," is that a run can be anything over 5 miles per hour. A 140-pound person burns approximately 13.2 calories per minute when running. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn. For example, a 180-pound person burns 17 calories a minute when running. A calorie-burning goal of 250 to 500 calories a day is safe and can lead to weight loss. In 38 minutes of running, a person who weighs 140 pounds will burn 500 calories.
You can increase the number of calories you burn by changing your intensity level. If you find hills to run, or are able to increase your speed, you will use more calories. You do this by elevating your heart rate to approximately 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Calculate your max heart rate by subtracting your age from 220 and then multiplying the result by 0.85.
High-Intensity Interval Training
If increasing your speed or time does not feel comfortable, you can still increase the number of calories you use by incorporating high-intensity interval training, HIIT, into your routine. With HIIT, you alternate bursts of speed or hills with a slower-paced run for recovery. Your recovery intervals are twice as long as your work intervals. For example, sprint for 30 seconds and then run for one minute before you sprint again. The duration of your HIIT workout may be shorter than your steady-state run, so even though you burn calories quickly, you may not burn as many overall until your endurance improves.
- American Council on Exercise: Calorie Burners: Activities That Turn Up the Heat
- Dr. Len Kravitz: Fat Facts
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Interval Training: The New and Better Way to Train Your Clients?
- Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance; William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch and Victor L. Katch
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images