People often ask the question about calories and weight loss, more specifically they want to know how many calories they burn doing various activities.
This article aims to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about burning calories and will look at the most common types of activities performed and the impact this has on health and weight loss. But first we need to understand what a calorie is and how it relates to weight and overall health in the first place.
What is a Calorie?
The Dictionary defines a calorie as ‘The energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1°C’ and although this doesn’t really answer the question, I think the important take away here is the word ‘energy’ because it is the calories that exist in the food we eat that help power our bodies through the day and keep us alive.
Unfortunately this does not mean that consuming more calories (food) equates to having even more energy because there is a certain point at which too much is not a good thing and after a certain amount of daily calorie intake the body starts to absorb this in the form of fat.
For more information on What a Calorie is and How Calories Work check out the following resources:
How Many Calories do I Need Each Day?
In general, an adult body needs around 1300 calories to have enough energy to fuel the body but that is assuming you are sitting or lying down and does not allow for the extra energy required to actually move around and actually live a life.
In order to work out the correct amount of calories needed to maintain your weight and overall health a number of factors like age, weight, height, gender and lifestyle need to be factored in, but for the sake of simplicity the average daily calorie requirement is around
- 3300 a day for the average adult male*
- 2550 a day for the average adult female*
This is allowing for the activities of daily living, plus the equivalent of walking 2 miles (or about 4,000 steps) per day.
*In 2011-12, the average Australian man (18 years and over) was 175.6 cm tall and weighed 85.9 kg. The average Australian woman was 161.8 cm tall and weighed 71.1 kg.
(source: Australian Bureau of Statistics)
*In 2011 -12, the average American man (20 years and older) was 69.3 inches tall and weighed 195.5Lbs. The average American woman was 63.8 inches tall and weighed 166.2Lbs
(Source: cdc.gov – American Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Want to know exactly how many calories you need a day to maintain a healthy body and mind – relevant to your age, height, weight, gender and lifestyle? We recommend the following resources:
Now that we have established the optimum number of calories needed to maintain your weight and a healthy lifestyle let’s look at the ugly side of calorie intake and try and get a better understanding of how it affects your weight and overall health.
How Many Calories do we Actually Consume?
There are no actual statistics on this but the fact that 1 in 3 Americans and 1 in 4 Australians are obese is a sure sign that we are clearly consuming too many. Again, we recommend you use the above resources/calorie calculators to work out exactly what your daily intake should be.
Most food labels advise how much ‘energy ‘ is in the food but since this figure is usually in Kilojoules it is probably best to give you the translation:
- 1 calorie is equal to 4.1868 joules
Great resources to help explain calories and Kilojoules and the average daily intake/requirement:
Now for the part that really matters..
How Can Understanding my Calorie Intake Help Me to Lose Weight and/or Maintain my Weight?
In order to understand how your calorie intake relates to weight loss we need to know what a calorie equates to in regards to fat:
How many calories do I need to burn to lose a kilogram or a pound of fat?
- 1 Kilogram of fat is equivalent to 7700 calories
- 1 Pound of fat is equivalent to 3500 calories
Now it is easier to put things into perspective and directly answer some of the more frequently asked questions about how many calories are burnt doing various exercises – and more importantly, what this means to your weight loss overall.
For example: If you wanted to lose 1 Lbs of fat per week then it is relatively easy to see that this would require the loss of 500 calories per day. Of course it is imperative that you first ascertain exactly how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis based on your age, weight, height, gender and overall activity level – and THEN go about burning an additional 500 more each day to reach this goal.
But what exercises burn the most – and how many do I burn doing specific tasks?
The following list of Frequently Asked Questions should help answer this for you.
It is important to note that these answers are based on the average American Male who weighs 195Lbs (or 88Kg) and used the following resource*
We highly recommend bookmarking this resource for your own reference so as to get a clearer indication as to exactly how many calories you would burn
How Many Calories do I Burn – Frequently Asked Questions
- How many calories do you burn in a day?
This depends on your gender and weight, and of course the variables also include what activities you do, or do not do throughout the course of a day. (use above resource to find out exactly how many)
- How many calories do you burn walking?
On average you will lose around 386 calories per hour walking
- How many calories do you burn swimming?
On average you will lose around 540 calories or every hour of moderate swimming that you do
- How many calories do you burn in a body pump class?
On average you will lose between 650 and 850 calories an hour, depending on how high impact it is
- How many calories do you burn breastfeeding?
On average you will lose around 400 calories in an hour of breastfeeding if you are also holding the child in your arms. This decreases to around 200 if you are sitting down and not supporting the weight of the baby
- How many calories do you burn playing netball?
On average you will lose around 900 calories for every hour of full court Netball that is played
- How many calories do you burn playing golf?
On average you will lose around 538 calories for every hour played (assuming you are carrying your own clubs)
- How many calories do you burn while sleeping?
On average you will lose around 82 calories per hour whilst sleeping
- How many calories do you burn in bikram yoga?
On average you will lose around 750 calories for every hour of Bikram Yoga you do
- How many calories do you burn in sex?
On average you will lose around 374 calories during an hour of sex and foreplay
- How many calories do you burn in a spin class?
On average you will lose between 700 and 900 calories in an hour of spin class – depending on how vigorous the class is.
- How many calories do you burn doing aerobics or step class?
On average you will lose around 940 calories for high impact aerobics and around 750 calories for less strenuous aerobics
- How many calories do you burn in a sauna?
On average you will lose around 300 calories an hour sitting/sweating in a Sauna
- How many calories do you burn in zumba?
On average you will lose around 700 calories doing an hour of Zumba class
- How many calories do you burn playing with your children?
On average you will lose around 350 calories chasing after your children for an hour
- How many calories do you burn riding a bike/cycling?
On average you will lose around 772 calories for every hour of moderate bicycle riding
- How many calories do you burn weight lifting?
On average you will lose around 310 calories in an hour of lifting weights
- How many calories do you burn Mowing the Lawn?
Can Ergonomics have an impact on Calories?
One of the more popular debates going on in relation to calories and office ergonomics is the sitting vs. Standing debate , due in part to the growing popularity of the standing workstation, a desk that enables office workers to stand up while at their desk.
These desks not only increase the amount of space available in the office, they also have been proven to increase productivity and open the lines of communication among co-workers.
We can now add to that the fact that these desks also have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing, with the following two statistics speaking volumes for how much better off you can be standing up at work as opposed to sitting down.
- Calories burned while Sitting at your desk: 90 calories an hour
- Calories burned while standing at your desk: 130 calories an hour
See our Sitting vs. Standing Calorie calculator for a more detailed idea of how much better off you can be standing up at work.