How to measure calories burned during exercise

  • Every activity has a value called a “MET value” which calculates the energy required for that activity.
  • Multiplying MET value by weight in kilograms tells you calories burned per hour.
  • You can look up research-backed MET values on the Compendium of Physical Activities website.

Throughout the day, everything we do burns calories.

Some things — like sitting — keep us at our resting rate. Vigorous activity can burn more than ten times as much energy.

And while calorie-counting isn’t necessarily the best way to lose weight, it can be useful or just plain fun to know whether that post-work soccer game is enough to burn off the donuts your co-worker brought in this morning.

Fortunately, there’s a science-backed way to calculate how many calories you burn doing almost anything. Sure, there are apps out there that will help you calculate how many calories you burn on your run or your bike ride, but this goes deeper than that.

Want to know how many calories you burn backpacking, milking a cow (manually), cleaning a church, or engaging in an hour of vigorous sex? There’s data that will help you calculate that — along with calories burned while engaging in all kinds of different sports.

Researchers have assessed the amount of energy required to engage in all kinds of activities over the years. In order to make it easier for other scientists to conduct large scale studies, researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Arizona State University have compiled updated versions of that data on a website, the Compendium of Physical Activities. And anyone can go to that website, look up an activity, and calculate how many calories they’ll burn doing something. It just takes some simple math.

Here’s how it works:

This calculation relies on a key value known as a MET, which stands for metabolic equivalent. One “MET” is “roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly,” according to the Compendium, and can be considered 1 kcal/kg/hour. Since sitting quietly is one MET, a 70 kg person would burn 70 calories (kcal) if they sat quietly for an hour.

If an activity’s MET value was two, that same person would burn 140 calories in an hour.

On the Compendium’s website, you can look up a huge number of activities. We’ve included calorie counts for some of the most popular activities in another article, but if you want to make the calculation for yourself, here’s how it works.

First, calculate your weight in kilograms — 1 kg is 2.2 lbs, but you can always type “X pounds to kg” into Google, with X being your weight, to get a number.

Second, look up your activity on the Compendium. There’s a dropdown menu on the site labeled “Activity Categories.” Under that menu, you’ll see a long list of categories, starting with bicycling and finishing with volunteer activities. If you open up a category, you can see the activities that fall under it.

If you open up sports (category 15) you can then select an activity. There are many listings for some activities — there’s a difference between boxing in a ring and boxing by hitting a punching bag, for example. Look for the MET value from the 2011 Compendium, as it’s the most up to date. If the MET value is blue, there are published studies supporting that value. If it’s red, it’s an estimate.

Here’s your equation: MET value multiplied by weight in kilograms tells you calories burned per hour (MET*weight in kg=calories/hour). If you only want to know how many calories you burned in a half hour, divide that number by two. If you want to know about 15 minutes, divide that number by four.

So if a 175-pound person like myself were to play competitive soccer (MET value of 10) for one hour, the equation for calories burned would be: 79.38 kg*10=793.8 calories/hour.

There are a few caveats. Everyone’s resting metabolic rate differs slightly — some people of the same weight naturally burn more or fewer calories, depending on a number of factors, and these differences can be significant. As the Compendium website explains, this sort of calculation doesn’t take into account differences caused by body mass, body fat, age, sex, efficiency of movement, and conditions like high altitude that may have an impact on the energy required for an activity. Also, these calculations are calculated based only on time spent in movement — so if half of my “competitive soccer” game was really just standing around, I’d have to divide that number in half and then add in the amount of calories I burned standing around to know how much energy I actually used in that hour.

That said, this is the easiest way to get a science-backed estimate of calories burned in an activity. And when you look through activities, there are all kinds of fun things that make the list — it’s worth taking some time to explore.

Of course exercise burns calories, but which exercises burn the most? And how do you know?

BY Kellie Bramlet Blackburn

We all know that when it comes to weight loss and energy balance, it’s a matter of calories in versus calories out. But when you exercise, do you really know how many calories you’re burning?

It’s important to learn how many calories you typically burn so you can control your weight, prevent obesity and lower your cancer risk.

We talked to Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Energy Balance in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship, to get more information on how to determine calories burned. Here’s what she had to say.

How do you know how many calories you’ve burned during a workout?

Measuring the exact number of calories you burn can be difficult. There are a few ways to measure your calorie burn. You can:

  • Use an activity tracker or an app that will estimate your calorie burn for you. But be careful with these. The accuracy can vary from product to product.
  • A heart rate monitor is one of the best ways to measure your calorie burn. Your heart rate indicates how much effort it takes for you to do a certain activity, and that effort determines the calories you burn. If a heart rate monitor indicates your calorie burn, it’s more likely to be accurate than the average activity tracker because it’s taken your specific heart rate in to account.
  • A MET values chart can also show you how many calories are typically burned during specific activity based on your weight. This chart was created by researchers and used widely throughout the medical community. A sample of this chart is featured below.

Which helps you lose more weight: diet or exercise?

Diet. Cutting calories and eating healthy will help you lose weight. Exercise alone probably won’t help you lose weight, but it will help you keep the weight off.

To lose one pound a week you should aim for a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, through a combination of reducing the calories you eat and increasing the calories you burn through physical activity. This adds up to 3,500 calories per week, the number of calories in about one pound of fat.

What factors contribute to how many calories are burned?

Several factors contribute to how quickly an individual burns calories, including:

  • The intensity of an activity being performed. The more intense an activity is the more calories an individual burns.
  • Weight. People who weigh more burn more calories.
  • Body composition. Muscle requires more energy than fat to maintain. People with more muscle burn more calories.

How much activity do I need to do?

To lower your cancer risk, aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Remember, you don’t have to do it all at once. You can break it up throughout the day, too.

Use our calculator to calculate the amount of calories your body burns when performing different activities. For example calculate calories burned when walking, calculate calories burned when running, calculate calories burned during skiing etc.

How to use this tool?

The use of this tool is very straightforward. First, select either imperial (US) or metric system (EU). Select your gender and select desired activity. Enter the duration (in minutes) and input your body weight (in kilograms or pounds).
Lastly, press calculate and result will be displayed below (in calories / cal).

Reference(s):
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Calories-burned-in-30-minutes-of-leisure-and-routine-activities.htm

Calories Burned From Exercise Calculator

Please note:
You can use this results to plan your diet but keep in mind that this tool is not 100% accurate as it does not take into account your body composition characteristics (muscle mass, body fat percentage, bone density etc).
Results are based on an assumption that you are of average build and have relatively normal body fat percentage.

Click here to see the list of supported activities

Gym Activities

Aerobics, Step: high impact
Aerobics, Step: low impact
Aerobics: high impact
Aerobics: low impact
Aerobics: water
Bicycling, Stationery: moderate
Bicycling, Stationery: vigorous
Calisthenics: moderate
Calisthenics: vigorous
Circuit Training: general
Elliptical Trainer: general
Riders: general (ie., HealthRider)
Rowing, Stationery: moderate
Rowing, Stationery: vigorous
Ski Machine: general
Stair Step Machine: general
Stretching, Hatha Yoga
Teaching aerobics
Weight Lifting: general
Weight Lifting: vigorous

Training and Sport Activities

Archery: non-hunting
Badminton: general
Basketball: playing a game
Basketball: wheelchair
Cycling: > 20 mph / > 32 kmh
Cycling: 16-19 mph / 25.6-30.5 kmh
Cycling: 14-15.9 mph / 22.5-25.5 kmh
Cycling: 12-13.9 mph / 19-22.4 kmh
Bicycling: BMX or mountain
Billiards
Bowling
Boxing: sparring
Curling
Dancing: disco, ballroom, square
Dancing: Fast, ballet, twist
Dancing: slow, waltz, foxtrot
Fencing
Football: competitive
Football: touch, flag, general
Frisbee
Golf: carrying clubs
Golf: using cart
Gymnastics: general
Handball: general
Hang Gliding
Hiking: cross-country
Hockey: field & ice
Horseback Riding: general
Ice Skating: general
Kayaking
Martial Arts: judo, karate, kickbox
Orienteering
Race Walking
Racquetball: casual, general
Racquetball: competitive
Rock Climbing: ascending
Rock Climbing: rappelling
Rollerblade Skating
Rope Jumping
Running: 10 mph / 16 kmh,
Running: 9 mph / 14,4 kmh
Running: 8.6 mph / 14 kmh
Running: 8 mph / 12 kmh
Running: 7.5 mph / 12 kmh
Running: 7 mph / 11 kmh
Running: 6.7 mph / 10.7 kmh
Running: 6 mph / 9.6 kmh
Running: 5.2 mph / 8.3 kmh
Running: 5 mph / 8 kmh
Running: cross-country
Running: pushing wheelchair, marathon wheeling
Scuba or skin diving
Skateboarding
Skiing: cross-country
Skiing: downhill
Sledding, luge, toboggan
Snorkeling
Snow Shoeing
Soccer: general
Softball: general play
Swimming: backstroke
Swimming: breaststroke
Swimming: butterfly
Swimming: crawl
Swimming: general
Swimming: laps, vigorous
Swimming: treading, vigorous
Tai Chi
Tennis: general
Volleyball: beach
Volleyball: competitive, gymnasium play
Volleyball: non-competitive, general play
Walk: 3.5 mph (17 min/mi) / 5.6 kmh
Walk: 4 mph (15 min/mi) / 6.4 kmh
Walk: 4.5 mph (13 min/mi) / 7.2 kmh
Water Polo
Water Skiing
Water Volleyball
Whitewater: rafting, kayaking
Wrestling

Outdoor Activities

Carrying & stacking wood
Chopping & splitting wood
Digging, spading dirt
Gardening: general
Gardening: weeding
Laying sod / crushed rock
Mowing Lawn: push, hand
Mowing Lawn: push, power
Operate Snow Blower: walking
Plant trees
Planting seedlings, shrubs
Raking Lawn
Sacking grass or leaves
Shoveling Snow: by hand

Home & Daily Life Activities

Child games: hop-scotch, jacks, etc.
Child-care: bathing, feeding, etc.
Cooking
Food Shopping: with cart
Heavy Cleaning: wash car, windows
Moving: carrying boxes
Moving: household furniture
Moving: unpacking
Playing w/kids: moderate effort
Playing w/kids: vigorous effort
Reading: sitting
Sleeping
Standing in line
Watching TV

Home Repair

Auto Repair
Carpentry: outside
Carpentry: refinish furniture
Cleaning rain gutters
Hanging storm windows
Lay or remove carpet/tile
Paint house: outside
Paint, paper, remodel: inside
Roofing
Wiring and Plumbing

Occupational Activities

Bartending/Server
Carpentry Work
Coaching Sports
Coal Mining
Computer Work
Construction, general
Desk Work
Firefighting
Forestry, general
Heavy Equip. Operator
Heavy Tools, not power
Horse Grooming
Light Office Work
Masonry
Masseur, standing
Police Officer
Sitting in Class
Sitting in Meetings
Steel Mill: general
Theater Work
Truck Driving: sitting
Welding

Also make sure you try out our other useful tools.
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1 COMMENT

I thought when you exercise it would lower your blood sugar, I was 5-6 this morning first thing,then with out eating I did 45 mins of walking,then I checked my blood sugar again and I was 8-3.

  • Every activity has a value called a “MET value” which calculates the energy required for that activity.
  • Multiplying MET value by weight in kilograms tells you calories burned per hour.
  • You can look up research-backed MET values on the Compendium of Physical Activities website.

Throughout the day, everything we do burns calories.

Some things — like sitting — keep us at our resting rate. Vigorous activity can burn more than ten times as much energy.

And while calorie-counting isn’t necessarily the best way to lose weight, it can be useful or just plain fun to know whether that post-work soccer game is enough to burn off the donuts your co-worker brought in this morning.

Fortunately, there’s a science-backed way to calculate how many calories you burn doing almost anything. Sure, there are apps out there that will help you calculate how many calories you burn on your run or your bike ride, but this goes deeper than that.

Want to know how many calories you burn backpacking, milking a cow (manually), cleaning a church, or engaging in an hour of vigorous sex? There’s data that will help you calculate that — along with calories burned while engaging in all kinds of different sports.

Researchers have assessed the amount of energy required to engage in all kinds of activities over the years. In order to make it easier for other scientists to conduct large scale studies, researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Arizona State University have compiled updated versions of that data on a website, the Compendium of Physical Activities. And anyone can go to that website, look up an activity, and calculate how many calories they’ll burn doing something. It just takes some simple math.

Here’s how it works:

This calculation relies on a key value known as a MET, which stands for metabolic equivalent. One “MET” is “roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly,” according to the Compendium, and can be considered 1 kcal/kg/hour. Since sitting quietly is one MET, a 70 kg person would burn 70 calories (kcal) if they sat quietly for an hour.

If an activity’s MET value was two, that same person would burn 140 calories in an hour.

On the Compendium’s website, you can look up a huge number of activities. We’ve included calorie counts for some of the most popular activities in another article, but if you want to make the calculation for yourself, here’s how it works.

First, calculate your weight in kilograms — 1 kg is 2.2 lbs, but you can always type “X pounds to kg” into Google, with X being your weight, to get a number.

Second, look up your activity on the Compendium. There’s a dropdown menu on the site labeled “Activity Categories.” Under that menu, you’ll see a long list of categories, starting with bicycling and finishing with volunteer activities. If you open up a category, you can see the activities that fall under it.

If you open up sports (category 15) you can then select an activity. There are many listings for some activities — there’s a difference between boxing in a ring and boxing by hitting a punching bag, for example. Look for the MET value from the 2011 Compendium, as it’s the most up to date. If the MET value is blue, there are published studies supporting that value. If it’s red, it’s an estimate.

Here’s your equation: MET value multiplied by weight in kilograms tells you calories burned per hour (MET*weight in kg=calories/hour). If you only want to know how many calories you burned in a half hour, divide that number by two. If you want to know about 15 minutes, divide that number by four.

So if a 175-pound person like myself were to play competitive soccer (MET value of 10) for one hour, the equation for calories burned would be: 79.38 kg*10=793.8 calories/hour.

There are a few caveats. Everyone’s resting metabolic rate differs slightly — some people of the same weight naturally burn more or fewer calories, depending on a number of factors, and these differences can be significant. As the Compendium website explains, this sort of calculation doesn’t take into account differences caused by body mass, body fat, age, sex, efficiency of movement, and conditions like high altitude that may have an impact on the energy required for an activity. Also, these calculations are calculated based only on time spent in movement — so if half of my “competitive soccer” game was really just standing around, I’d have to divide that number in half and then add in the amount of calories I burned standing around to know how much energy I actually used in that hour.

That said, this is the easiest way to get a science-backed estimate of calories burned in an activity. And when you look through activities, there are all kinds of fun things that make the list — it’s worth taking some time to explore.

–>

Activity Duration Calories Burned Remove
The above BMI categories are not applicable for children or pregnant women.
Total: 0 Mins 0 Cals

Exercise Calorie Calculator Help – Information

The calories burned calculator calculates an estimate of the number of calories burned for a wide range of activities. Enter your weight and the duration of exercise, click the calculate button and the calculator will calculate the calories burned.

The calculations are based on the activities Metabolic Equivalent (MET). This is an estimate of how much energy an activity burns as a multiple of an individuals resting metabolic rate (RMR). One MET is considered the energy expended at rest, while an exercise that was, say, 5 METs would expend approximately 5 times the energy than in a resting state.

It is common to use METs to estimate an individuals energy consumption during an activity through the equation:

Calories expended (kcal) = METs x (Weight in Kg) x (Duration in Hours)

The calculator allows you to total the energy expended during a number of activities. Simply click the “Add to Total” link next to the exercise once the calories have be computed. This will add this exercise to a list of exercises at the top to be added to a total calorie expenditure and the total calories of your added activities as well as their total duration will be displayed. You can also remove exercises from your total once added.

When using this calculator, it is important not to add the calories here to your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or the related estimate of the number of calories you burn a day from our calorie calculator, as the energy expenditure here includes your resting metabolic rate for the duration of the exercise.

This calories burned calculator is used to produce an estimate of the number of calories burned in various activities, however these estimates are based on the findings of experiments that generalize accross people. A given individuals energy expenditure may vary from that shown due to the persons individual characteristics as well as the intensity of your exercise.

Much of the research for this calorie calculator was based on the Wikipedia entry on Metabolic Equivalent. The MET values for this calculator were adopted from the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities

Disclaimer: Please understand that these calculations are based on scientific formulas that generalize between people, and as such may not be relevant in all cases. Additionally, this calorie calculator is not applicable to children or pregnant women. Always consult your doctor before commencing a weight loss program.

How to Measure Distance on a Treadmill

You can measure the intensity of your workout by reps, time or distance, but to really get an accurate measure of how hard you worked out, you should estimate the calories you burned. You have a few options to pick from when it comes to measuring calories. Some are built in to equipment, while others are stand-alone devices. Select the calorie counter that best fits the needs of your workouts.

Built-in Calorie Counters

Many pieces of exercise equipment, like stationary bikes, ellipticals and treadmills, have built-in calorie counters. In 2010 Bob Quast, the vice president of brand management and product development for the American exercise equipment manufacturer Life Fitness, explained to Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper that these pieces of equipment calculate calories based on studies of actual users. According to Quast, they are accurate within 10 percent. These provide you with an easy way to estimate your calorie burn.

Heart-Rate Monitors

Heart rate monitors are a better alternative to built-in calorie counters if you use equipment like weight machines that don’t typically use calorie counters, or if you don’t use equipment at all to exercise. Heart rate monitors record your heart rate and estimate the number of calories that you burn based on that rate and other factors such as your age and weight. According to an article by Raphael Konforti, a RecSports Personal Training Program assistant at the University of Florida, a heart rate monitor is “a fairly accurate tool for measuring caloric expenditure.”

Pedometers

A pedometer is a simple device that you wear on your hip to measure the number of steps you take. But some pedometers do much more, including estimating the number of calories that you burn. These can be an excellent option if you primarily work out by running or walking. Apps are available for your smartphone that can convert it into a pedometer, too, even making use of your phone’s GPS to get a more accurate measure of the distance you cover.

Online Calculators

You can easily use your computer as a calorie counter using one of several online calorie calculators. Calorie calculators don’t record data; instead, you need to input it yourself. For instance, you would enter the exercise and the length of time into the calculator along with your weight. Calorie counters are available from websites like HealthStatus, Myfitnesspal and CaloriesCount. With these calculators, however, you’re limited to the exercises contained in the database.

More Articles

Calculate Weight Loss on a Treadmill →

How Much Weight Is a Treadmill Calorie Calculator Based On? →

Determine Percentages of Total Kilocalories From Carbohydrates →

Here’s what happened.

How to measure calories burned during exercise

When fitness trackers first hit the sweaty scene, they were step-counting machines. Now, they track your heart rate, sleep quality, calories burned, body fat percentage, foods consumed, and glasses of water guzzled. In future years, they will be able to read your mind and talk you down from devouring that whole pint of ice cream in one sitting (at least that’s what we’re hoping).

So yeah, they do a lot. But what’s the point of all of the bells and whistles if they aren’t accurate? After all, if you put all of your trust in a calorie-burn tracker that’s off—using it to figure out how many calories you should eat to lose weight—you could easily wind up overeating or under fueling. Either way, the results aren’t awesome: weight gain, miserable workouts, plateaus, and fatigue all top the list of possibilities.

To put fitness trackers to the test, I rounded up three of the newest ones out there: the Fitbit Alta HR, Withings Steel HR, and the TomTom Touch Cardio + Body Composition Fitness Tracker. While they all calculate heart rate—which is a great step toward better calorie counting—it was immediately clear that they each had their own thing going on.

RELATED: THE CALORIE-CUTTING MISTAKE THAT 1 IN 3 WOMEN MAKE

The Setup

The Fitbit Alta HR got major points for simplicity. I tapped the glass display and could cycle through all of my stats. And despite being perpetually challenged by technology, I found the app clean and intuitive, and loved that I could log food right into the app. That helped make achieving caloric balance that much easier.

For me, Withings Steel HR immediately won the beauty award in a landslide though. A high-tech tracker disguised as a sleek, sexy timepiece, it pairs perfectly with everything from workout clothes to date-night outfits. (Am I drooling?)

But then, the TomTom Touch Cardio + Body Composition Fitness Tracker piqued my interest with its body composition scanner. Swipe through the tracker’s screens to the percentage sign, hold your finger on the sensor, and bam! Your body fat percentage as well as percentage of lean muscle download straight to the app.

How to Measure Distance on a Treadmill

You can measure the intensity of your workout by reps, time or distance, but to really get an accurate measure of how hard you worked out, you should estimate the calories you burned. You have a few options to pick from when it comes to measuring calories. Some are built in to equipment, while others are stand-alone devices. Select the calorie counter that best fits the needs of your workouts.

Built-in Calorie Counters

Many pieces of exercise equipment, like stationary bikes, ellipticals and treadmills, have built-in calorie counters. In 2010 Bob Quast, the vice president of brand management and product development for the American exercise equipment manufacturer Life Fitness, explained to Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper that these pieces of equipment calculate calories based on studies of actual users. According to Quast, they are accurate within 10 percent. These provide you with an easy way to estimate your calorie burn.

Heart-Rate Monitors

Heart rate monitors are a better alternative to built-in calorie counters if you use equipment like weight machines that don’t typically use calorie counters, or if you don’t use equipment at all to exercise. Heart rate monitors record your heart rate and estimate the number of calories that you burn based on that rate and other factors such as your age and weight. According to an article by Raphael Konforti, a RecSports Personal Training Program assistant at the University of Florida, a heart rate monitor is “a fairly accurate tool for measuring caloric expenditure.”

Pedometers

A pedometer is a simple device that you wear on your hip to measure the number of steps you take. But some pedometers do much more, including estimating the number of calories that you burn. These can be an excellent option if you primarily work out by running or walking. Apps are available for your smartphone that can convert it into a pedometer, too, even making use of your phone’s GPS to get a more accurate measure of the distance you cover.

Online Calculators

You can easily use your computer as a calorie counter using one of several online calorie calculators. Calorie calculators don’t record data; instead, you need to input it yourself. For instance, you would enter the exercise and the length of time into the calculator along with your weight. Calorie counters are available from websites like HealthStatus, Myfitnesspal and CaloriesCount. With these calculators, however, you’re limited to the exercises contained in the database.

More Articles

Calculate Weight Loss on a Treadmill →

How Much Weight Is a Treadmill Calorie Calculator Based On? →

Determine Percentages of Total Kilocalories From Carbohydrates →