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Lose Weight with This Calorie Burning Chart

calorie burning chartThe calorie burning chart below details how many calories you burn per hour doing various activities. Since 3500 calories equal 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 more calories than you take in to lose a pound.[1]

Health experts classify “healthy weight loss” as 1-2 pounds per week. This means that you either need to reduce your calorie intake by 500-1000 calories/day, burn 500-1000 extra calories a day, or a combination of both.[2] I recommend the third option.

But before we look at the calorie burning chart below, let’s make sure you understand what calorie are and what role they play in your body.

What are calories?

Calories are units of energy used to measure the foods we eat. The three main types of nutrients have the following number of calories per gram:

  • Carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram
  • Protein: 4 calories/gram
  • Fat: 9 calories/gram

Your body burns calories to provide energy to support three vital functions:

1) Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

BMR is the amount of calories you burn “at rest” (i.e., sleeping). BMR accounts for around 60% of the calories burned each day for the average person.

2) Physical Activity to Burn Calories

These are calories burned by doing activities that require movement. This could be anything from walking to the refrigerator to doing dishes to working out. On average, people burn about 30% of their daily calories by doing physical activity.

3) Diet Thermogenesis

Thermogenesis is the process by which the body generates heat, or energy, by increasing the metabolic rate above normal. A simpler way of explaining thermogenesis is the calories your body burns eating, digesting, absorbing and using food.

How many calories do I need?

That depends on several factors, including your age, size, height, weight, sex, lifestyle, and health goals.

Here’s a calorie calculator from the American Cancer Society that will help you determine your daily caloric needs.

Read more about calories on my how to count calories page.

Calorie burning chart

The following calorie burning chart shows some different activities and how many calories you burn while doing them. Note that this table gives estimates for a 155 pound person. The actual number of calories you burn may be slightly higher or lower, depending on your body composition and activity level). But, this calorie burning chart will give you a good general idea of how many calories you can expect to burn. Here ’tis:

Activity Calories Burned per Hour
Sleeping 46
Watching TV 56
Sitting at computer 102
Doing light household chores 95
Standing in line 100
Playing with your dog 115
Playing with kids (not rigorous) 120
Driving 120
Shopping 135
Eating 140
Bowling 145
Cooking 186
Dancing (slow/waltz/foxtrot) 224
Lifting weights (light) 224
Household chores 225
Walking 230
Golfing (riding in cart) 260
Softball 260
Skateboarding 275
Gardening 300
Stretching 300
Light yoga 300
Lifting weights (vigorous) 446
Downhill skiing 315
Mowing the lawn 410
Golfing (walking w/ bag) 410
Volleyball 340
Baseball 365
Walking (4.5 mph) 372
Power walking 400
Dancing (disco/ballroom/square) 410
Hiking 440
Shoveling snow 446
Water skiing 446
Cross country skiing 500
Playing basketball 510
Tennis 520
Swimming 520
Scuba diving 520
Step aerobics (light impact) 520
Soccer 520
Biking (fast pace) 530
Circuit weight training 540
Football 600
Cross country skiing 600
Rocking climbing 600
Hockey 600
Stairclimber 600
Running (5 mph) 600
Rowing 632
Elliptical machine 670
Boxing 670
Water aerobics 720
Racquetball 740
Step aerobics (heavy impact) 744
Spinning 782
Jumping rope 900
Running (7.5 mph) 940
Bicycling (> 20 mph) 1220

Source: July 2004 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter

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[1] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/calories/WT00011

[2] DHHS, AIM for a Healthy Weight, page 5. Available online:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/aim_hwt.pdf