Maximize your caloric burn

How many calories are you really burning? How can you get more out of your workout? Everyone’s body behaves differently, and there are so many factors to take in when determining how many calories you are burning. Your weight, what you have eaten that day, and your level of intensity are some of the biggest factors.

Mayo Clinic gives us an example of a variety of activities and the caloric expenditure of a 160lb individual in an hour, this will help you to see the difference in the activities; ballroom dancing – 219, leisurely biking – 292, walking – 314, moderate elliptical – 365, low-impact aerobics – 365, hiking 438, running 5mph – 606. Do those numbers surprise you?

The way to burn more calories during your workout is pretty clear, work harder. However, there is a way to keep that burn going throughout your day as well. EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) is how we refer to that after-burn. Simply put, this is how much oxygen your body needs in order to return to its normal state after a workout.

Greater demand on your anaerobic energy pathways increases your need for oxygen afterwards, which gives you a larger EPOC effect. Circuit training, heavy resistance training with little rest, and high intensity intervals tax your energy system the most. This translates to more calories burned even after your workout is over. Consider picking up some heavier resistance (you too, ladies) and hitting those intervals harder.

So what else can you do with the rest of your day to burn some more calories, without actually “doing a workout?” On days you are not committed, there are lots of fun things you can do yourself or with friends to burn some significant extra calories.

That same study gives some more examples for that 160lb individual doing more casual activities for an hour; canoeing – 256 calories, walking 2mph – 204, golfing carrying clubs – 314, basketball game – 584. All of those burn a lot more calories than sitting at a restaurant or on the couch watching TV.

What if you are stuck at work, or just have a busy lifestyle? Set an alarm to get up and walk around for just a couple of minutes each hour. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do some squats while you brush your teeth. Take a walk with the family at the end of the night. Dance around while you make dinner. Just don’t take those other 23 hours for granted.


by Molly Nevings. Nevins, BS Kinesiology, ACSM HSF, is the fitness director for DeWitt and Oak Park YMCA. Reach her at (517) 827-9700.

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