How Much Exercise Should I Do To Burn Calories And Lose Weight?

women in jeans that are too big

Weight gain can be attributed to a simple mathematical formula: the number of calories added to the body in the form of food minus the amount used in daily living. If calories exceed calories used, the person gains weight. Diet and exercise are the two biggest factors in weight control. provides a tool to estimate how many calories are burned in certain activities. The following is a sample of the number of calories a person would burn in an hour in certain activities:

Sleeping -50
Reading – 65
Television – 65
Walking at a two mph pace – 202
Walking at a four mph pace – 405
Household chores – moderate – 283
Aerobics, vigorous high impact – 567
Swimming, general – 486
Running 8 mph – 1,093
Golf, walking – 364

It is obvious the more sedentary the activity, the fewer calories are burned. What might not be quite so obvious is how even a little activity can greatly increase the rate.

How Much Activity in a 24 Hour Day?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the number of calories needed per day runs from around 2,000 to 2,500 for an adult. Estimates are that it takes a net increase of 3,500 calories to gain a pound.

For the examples, we will assume a 170-pound person eats 2,500 calories per day:

Example #1:

Mike lives a very sedentary life, working in an office in front of a computer, sleeping eight hours a day and 16 hours, and lounging around watching television and surfing the internet. From the calorie counts above:

Sleeping 8 hours times 73 calories = 350
Reading and television for the other 16 hours times 81 calories = 1296
Total = 1646 calories burned

Mike has burned 620 less he took in. A week of this is an extra pound. Over a year, Mike will have gained some 50 pounds. If he indulges in junk food while watching TV, the difference will be even greater. person in jeans that are too small

Adding Activity Helps Reduce Weight

Mike can greatly increase his calorie expenditure by moving around. See what happens when Mike replaces some of his sedentary time with simple movement:

Example #2:

Sleeping 8 hours = 350
Two hours of a moderate stroll = 404
Cleaning the house for an hour = 283
One hour brisk walk = 405
12 hours at work and TV time = 810
Total = 2,252

A big difference. Mike can maintain his current weight with very little change in his routine. If he replaces two hours of TV with nine holes of golf:

Example # 3:

Sleeping 8 hours = 350
Two hours of a moderate stroll = 404
Cleaning the house for an hour = 283
One hour brisk walk = 405
Two hours of golf = 728
10 hours at work and TV time = 972
Total = 3,142

If the person maintains a sensible diet and makes time for activity, Mike can burn enough excess calories to lose a pound a week, a sensible goal. If time is an issue, he can still burn more calories by taking on a higher intensity activity, such as swimming, aerobics, or running.

The amount, duration, and intensity of exercise are important factors in how many calories you burn, and burning calories is an important part of weight control. 

Remember, moderation is a key to anything in life. Too much or little of something can be bad as well. I definitely recommend tracking your progress and tweaking your routine as you go if you don’t see the results you want. The biggest thing to remember though is the calories coming in and the calories going out. Not all calories are created equal though too.  A 100 calories of butter is not the same as 100 calories of fresh vegetables. 

Here are some other posts you might like:

10 Fun Ways To Burn Calories

How Do I Find A Race To Run?

Biggest Diet Mistakes That Runners Will Often Make

Half Marathon Training Tips: How to Properly Prepare

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