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What Exercise Burns the Most Calories?

We discussed about How Many Calories Does Walking Burn? (Calories Burned Walking)  few days ago.

These days most of us are on the look out for a sure-shot way that burns the most calories. This has become a common topic ruling the cover stories of many popular health journals. If our calorie intake exceeds the calorie burnt, we become obese. In other words, the surplus, unused calorie accumulates in our body in the form of body fat. Thus the imbalance between calorie intake and calorie output is what results in obesity. Obesity has acquired a pandemic dimension these days owing to factors like sedentary lifestyle, faulty food habit, slow basal metabolic rate, overeating habits, hormonal imbalance etc. Obesity takes a toll on our fitness, makes us sluggish physically and depressed mentally and may lead to fatal complications like cardiac diseases, liver congestion, stroke, asthma, hypertension, diabetes and also certain types of cancers. Thus burning calories is not alone the concern of a fitness freak but of all of us.


You can burn you calories through regular exercises either in gym or at home. But you need to abide by your exercise regimen sincerely. Before learning what exercise burns the most calories, you should know why is exercising a means of calorie burning.

Why does exercise burn calories?

Exercise burns calories by accelerating the metabolic rate of our body. Metabolic rate may be defined as the rate at which food is burnt down to supply energy to the body for its full-fledged functioning.  The process of metabolism, in other words, is a complex process utilizing oxygen to convert food in to calorie (an energy measuring unit). When we exercise our metabolic rate is speeded up. More and more food is converted in to energy, leaving very little to get collected in the body as fat. This is why exercise burns the most calories.

Calorie burning exercises can be broadly classified as:

  • Regular Cardio exercises: Examples of regular cardio exercises are swimming, walking, jogging, skipping, bicycling etc. These exercises are also called Aerobics. Aerobic exercise is actually another name for Cardio exercise. If you do these exercises daily for about 30 minutes, you will burn good amount of calories. If you have to meet some fitness target, just increase the span of daily work-outs. These exercises will not only help you to burn calories but also will improve the blood circulation through out your body, revitalizing every inch of it.
  • Strength training exercises: Strength training exercises like weight lifting, push-ups, crunches etc are high impact exercises commonly practiced by athletes or professional body builders who want to get chiseled abs, packs, biceps and triceps. The aim of these exercises is to build lean muscle mass but they too burn considerable amount of calories.

To calculate the amount of calorie burnt through your exercise program, you can go through a calorie burning chart available in most modern gyms or also on the internet. It will help you to measure the true worth of your efforts to remain fit; the true worth of every drop of sweat you shed during your work-out sessions. Generally you lose up to 220 lb of calories through a 30 minutes long aerobic session.

The exercise that burns the most calories:

Cardio exercise burns the most calories. We will now go in to the details of Cardio exercise (also known as aerobic exercise). The term ‘cardio’ comes from ‘cardiovascular’. This form of exercise is actually heart rate or cardiac rate accelerating exercise. They elevate your heart rate and keep it elevated for a certain time period. The rate at which you do cardio exercise and the time period you devote to it, actually determines the amount of calories burnt by the exercise. You cannot take breaks from your cardio exercise routine. A routine-based cardio exercise actually burns the most calories. Apart from burning calories by expediting the body’s metabolic rate, cardio exercise is also beneficial in the following ways:

  • It strengthens heart and lungs
  • It boosts up lung capacity
  • It boosts up your energy level
  • It relieves stress
  • It helps you sleep better

Thus cardio exercise has a positive impact on your overall health apart from the fact that it burns the most calories. You must know that strengthening and stretching exercises like Pilates do not belong to the cardio category. But they can be combined with cardio exercise for best results. Cardio exercise can be of 2 basic types:

  1. Low intensity cardio exercise (It burns fat and protects joints)
  2. High intensity cardio exercise (It burns calories to a large extent and increases metabolism pace).

The recommended timing for low intensity cardio exercise is 45 minutes to 1 hour while the recommended timing for high intensity cardio exercise is 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Here follows a list of some very beneficial exercises that come under the cardio group:

  • Aerobics-This is usually performed by women. It trims and reshapes your thighs, hips and glutes. 400 calories or more are burnt down by this form of cardio exercise.
  • Bicycling-This is usually done outdoors. 30 minutes of bicycling burns as much as 250-500 calories
  • Swimming-This allows a full body work out and can burn up to 400 calories
  • Tennis-It is a sport. 30 minutes of tennis serves can burn up to 400 calories.
  • Rock climbing-It is an adventurous sport in which your agility and endurance is put to test. It burns up to 380 calories in 30 minutes.
  • Cross-country skiing-You can practice this sport either outdoors in the snow or indoors on a skating ring. It burns up to 300 calories.
  • Running-This is the easiest cardio exercise. It can burn 300 or more calories.
  • Elliptical trainer-This is a good endurance building exercise. Its burns up to 300 calories in 30 minutes.
  • Rowing-This effective cardio exercise burns 300 calories or more.
  • Brisk walking-This is the commonest cardio exercise, burning up to 180 calories in 30 minutes.


So cardio exercise burns the most calories. You can punch it with other exercises to make your own fitness program.


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