March 12, 2018 mdchino

Which Types of Exercise Burn the Most Calories?

People exercise for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight (this is the most common reason). Maybe you want to reduce your stress (and exercise works). Maybe your doctor told you that you need to exercise more. Or, maybe it’s just a habit, or you enjoy it. Whatever the reason, exercising regularly is certainly one of the best routes to improved physical and mental health, and we should all do it regardless of how many calories we’re burning.

However, those of you who want to lose weight, or maintain your current weight, are understandably curious about which types of exercise burn the most calories. And that’s a good question!

Before we answer that question, though, let’s review how these things are calculated…

  • Everyone has a basal metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories you burn, regardless of exercise, just to perform your basic daily functions.
  • Those who have more muscle mass burn more calories – even when resting. 
  • Physical activity produces a “thermal effect” in your body, and it’s the second largest contributor to calorie-burning (after basal metabolism).
  • You must burn about 3,500 calories in order to shed one pound of fat.

Okay, so now that you know what you’re working with… Which types of exercise burn the most calories in a session?

Last year, Harvard Health Publishing actually investigated this issue, and released data on dozens of common physical activities. According to their reports, five types of exercise burn more calories than anything else:

  • Running
  • Stationary biking
  • Swimming
  • Circuit training
  • Vigorous weight lifting

So, there you have it! If you’re interested in burning the most calories in the least amount of time, those exercises might be right for you. But, as usual, schedule an appointment with us to discuss your plans. We can screen you for underlying problems and make sure that exercise is safe for you, and offer advice on weight loss if that’s your goal.


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