No one could be faulted for wanting to zero in on the best calorie-busting exercises in an effort to get the most bang out of their one-hour workout. But caloric expenditure isn’t the same for everyone.
“In order to burn calories, we tap into the stores of energy we get from food. And because we store so much, the longer you engage in an activity and the more stress you put on your body, the more you’ll burn calories,” says Sabrina Francescut, president of the Ontario Kinesiology Association. “However, the amount you’ll burn is dependent on a number of variables.”
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These variables include age, gender, weight, how active a person is and what their lifestyle entails.
“If you’re a smoker or a drinker, your body will get taxed a lot faster. The same goes for someone who eats a lot of heavy foods — they won’t be able to run as fast or as far, for example, because their body doesn’t have the proper nutrients to sustain extended periods of exercise.”
For this reason, Francescut says, exercise professionals will screen people before putting them on a workout program, or advise them to start out with a low-impact activity like gardening or housework.
“I tell people to drink plenty of water, eat properly and stretch. It’s always good to have a workout buddy to motivate you, and if you do, keep your intensity low enough so that you can carry on a conversation while you’re exercising,” she says. “Eventually, the amount of calories you burn will change as you get into better shape and you change your lifestyle habits.”
The Mayo Clinic used research culled from the Compendium of Physical Activities and published by the National Institutes of Health to estimate the caloric burn of a 160-pound person over the course of one hour. These are the top 10 activities that burn the most calories.
Running 5 mph = 606 calories
Hiking = 438 calories
Swimming laps (light or moderate) = 423 calories
Water aerobics = 402 calories
Low-impact aerobics = 365 calories
Elliptical trainer (moderate intensity) = 365 calories
Downhill skiing = 314 calories
Walking 3.5 mph = 314 calories
Golf (carrying clubs) = 314 calories
Bicycling (less than 10 mph) = 292 calories
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