How Many Calories are Burned with Physical Activity

by The Cooperative
Engaging in physical activity regularly is important for healthy weight management and can help prevent and reverse obesity, which can lead to having a higher risk for premature death, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and other chronic diseases. When it comes to bodyweight control, exercise is an essential component to help you maintain or lose weight. When you are trying to lose weight, physical activity increases the number of calories your body uses for energy or “burns off.” Burning calories in physical activity and reducing the number of calories you consume creates a calorie deficit that results in weight loss. Counting calorie intake has been made easy, the calories are listed on just about every food you buy, and calorie counting apps make the process fast and easy. While counting calories has been made easy, knowing how many calories you are burning through physical activity isn’t as easy. Knowing how many calories you are burning throughout the day is a great way to know how much you can eat, without going over your daily recommended number of calories.

Below is a table that shows the number of calories that are used in common physical activities at both a moderate or vigorous intensity. This table is based off a 154-pound person. People who may more than 154-pounds will burn more calories per hour than the 154-pound person, and someone weighing less than 154-pounds, will burn less.
Calories Used per Hour in Common Physical Activities 
Moderate Physical Activity  Approximate Calories/30 Minutes for a 154 lb Person1  Approximate Calories/Hr for a 154 lb Person1 
Hiking  185  370 
Light gardening/yard work  165  330 
Dancing  165  330 
Golf (walking and carrying clubs)  165  330 
Bicycling (<10 mph)  145  290 
Walking (3.5 mph)  140  280 
Weight lifting (general light workout)  110  220 
Stretching  90  180 
Vigorous Physical Activity  Approximate Calories/30 Minutes for a 154 lb Person1  Approximate Calories/Hr for a 154 lb Person1 
Running/jogging (5 mph)  295  590 
Bicycling (>10 mph)  295  590 
Swimming (slow freestyle laps)  255  510 
Aerobics  240  480 
Walking (4.5 mph)  230  460 
Heavy yard work (chopping wood)  220  440 
Weight lifting (vigorous effort)    440 
Basketball (vigorous)  220  440 
1 Calories burned per hour will be higher for persons who weigh more than 154 lbs (70 kg) and lower for persons who weigh less.Source: Adapted from Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, page 16, Table 4 pdf icon[PDF-3.37MB]external icon
Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight | Healthy Weight, Nutrition, and Physical Activity | CDC 

Being physically active is not only important for someone looking to lose weight, it is essential for someone looking to maintain their weight. According to the CDC, most weight loss is attributed to decreased caloric intake, but research has shown that the best way to maintain weight loss is to be engaged in regular physical activity. By knowing how many calories you are burning, you can adjust your diet to meet the caloric needs of your body. If you were to eat extra calories in a day and would like to burn it off, this chart is a great resource to know what physical activity you could do to achieve that!
Written by: Coach Alex

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