Worried about those extra holiday calories? Who isn’t? Let’s consult the Department of Health and Human Services and see what they have to say. Perhaps there is some new weight loss formula we haven’t tried, or a surefire calorie burning trick that will help us slip back into our skinniest jeans right after we’ve packed off the decorations and put away the cookie tins.
Really? You know better. The big secret of dieting for the average healthy adult has been the same secret for eons. When you burn more calories than you consume, you lose weight. When you’re active, your body uses more energy – that’s calories. For most healthy adults, diet has a stronger effect on weight loss than does physical activity, but activity works better to maintain weight loss and prevent gain. In a nutshell, you diet to lose the pounds, then stay active to maintain that weight loss. There’s a ‘one man’s gain is another man’s loss’ thing in there somewhere, or something we can do with gains and losses from various perspectives, but we’ll take the high road today and not go there!
The basic exercise guidelines are very familiar:
- Aerobic activity: The minimum for healthy adults is getting at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity. Some of us may need up to 300 minutes per week of moderate activity to effective lose or maintain our weight. A combination of moderate and vigorous activity is another good plan. Spread the sessions out over the week, aiming for a least 10-minute workout intervals. Some suggested pursuits: brisk walking, swimming, mowing the lawn, running, aerobic dance classes.
- Strength training: The HHS guidelines contain no specific time guidelines for strength training, but recommend it at least twice a week. Strength training includes the use of weight machines, rock climbing, heavy gardening and so on.
What follows is a chart showing the estimated number of calories burned while doing one of the exercises for one hour. Obviously this will vary considerably, depending on the exercise itself, the intensity level and your specific situation. And the general goal is about 30 minutes of activity daily. Don’t let the list scare you.
The calories burned are based on the activity, 1-hour in duration, with an exerciser at 200 pounds. If you weigh less, you will burn fewer calories. If you weigh more than 200 pounds, you will burn more calories. For example, backpacking for one hour will burn 511 calories if you weigh around 160 pounds, and 763 calories if you weigh about 240 pounds. And 3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat. You know how to do the rest of the math.
- Aerobics, high impact: 664 calories
- Aerobics, low impact: 455 calories
- Aerobics, water: 501 calories
- Backpacking: 637 calories
- Basketball games: 728 calories
- Bicycling, under 10 mph: 364 calories
- Bowling: 273 calories
- Canoeing: 319 calories
- Dancing, ballroom: 273 calories
- Football, flag or touch: 728 calories
- Golf, carrying the clubs: 391 calories
- Hiking: 546 calories
- Ice skating: 637 calories
- Racquetball: 637 calories
- Resistance training: 455 calories
- Rollerblading: 683 calories
- Rope jumping: 1074 calories
- Rowing, stationary: 546 calories
- Running, 5 mph: 755 calories
- Running, 8 mph: 1074 calories
- Skiing, cross-country: 619 calories
- Skiing, downhill: 391 calories
- Skiing, water: 546 calories
- Softball or baseball: 455 calories
- Stair treadmill: 819 calories
- Swimming, laps: 528 calories
- Tae kwon do: 937 calories
- Tai chi: 273 calories
- Tennis, singles: 728 calories
- Volleyball: 364 calories
- Walking, 2 mph: 255 calories
- Walking, 3.5 mph: 391 calories