Exercise for weight loss: Calories burned in 1 hour

Being active can help you lose weight and keep it off. Find out how much you need.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Being active is vital to losing weight and keeping it off. When active, the body uses more energy in the form of calories. And burning more calories than you take in leads to weight loss.

To lose weight, most people need to cut the number of calories they eat and move more. This is according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Most often, that means cutting daily calories by 500 to 750 to lose 1 1/2 pounds (0.7 kilograms) a week.

Other factors might be involved in losing weight. Because of changes to the body over time, you might need to cut calories more as you age to keep losing weight or to stay at the same weight.

Diet or exercise: Does one matter more?

Both are important. Diet affects weight loss more than physical activity does. Physical activity, including exercise, has a stronger effect in keeping weight from coming back after weight loss.

Losing weight with diet alone and without physical activity can make people weaker. This is because of age-related losses in bone density and muscle mass. Adding resistance training and aerobic exercise to a weight-loss program helps prevent the loss of bone and muscle.

These are the exercise guidelines for most healthy adults from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

  • Aerobic activity. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Or get 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. You also can get an equal mix of the two types.

    Aim to exercise most days of the week. For even more health benefits, strive for 300 minutes a week or more of moderate aerobic activity or 150 minutes of vigorous activity. Exercising this much may help with weight loss or keeping off lost weight. But even small amounts of physical activity can be helpful. Being active for short periods of time during the day can add up and give you great health benefits.

  • Strength training. Do strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. One set of each exercise is enough for health and fitness benefits. Use a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.

Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming and mowing the lawn.

Vigorous aerobic exercise includes activities such as running, swimming hard laps, heavy yardwork and aerobic dancing.

Strength training can include use of weights or weight machines, your own body weight, resistance tubing, or activities such as rock climbing.

How much am I burning?

This list shows about how many calories are burned while doing certain exercises for one hour. This is based on a person who weighs 160 pounds (73 kilograms). The calories you burn depend on the exercise you do, how hard you do it, how much you weigh and other factors.

Activity for one hour 160 lbs. (73 kg)
Aerobics, low-impact 365
Aerobics, water 402
Bicycling, < 10 mph, leisure 292
Dancing, ballroom 219
Elliptical trainer, moderate effort 365
Golfing, carrying clubs 314
Hiking 438
Running, 5 mph 606
Skiing, downhill 314
Swimming laps, light or moderate 423
Walking, 3.5 mph 314

Based on Ainsworth BE, et al. 2011 compendium of physical activities: A second update of codes and MET values. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43:1575.

Remember, to lose weight or to keep weight from creeping up on you as you age, you need to eat less and move more. Moving more means adding more physical activity into your life.

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May 08, 2024 See more In-depth