YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Which exercises burn the most calories?

Though some activities have a higher calorie-burn rate, like running over walking, consider how long the exercise will take and aim to mix up the routine.

May 25, 2009|Jay Blahnik

I run occasionally, walk pretty regularly and love to ride my bike on weekends when I have more time. How many calories do I burn when I do these activities, and how do these activities compare with swimming, yoga and dancing? I want to make sure I'm getting the most bang for my buck when I exercise.


Westlake Village

The calorie-burn rate can vary depending on how quickly and intensely the activity is performed and how much a person weighs. Published calorie-burn rates are usually estimates and are sometimes exaggerated to help boost the marketability of an exercise product or an activity.

Without sophisticated equipment and exercise testing, there is no way to determine your exact calorie burn while running, walking or swimming. See the accompanying chart for a compilation of calorie-burn estimates.

Some activities have a higher calorie-burn rate than others, but you probably won't be able to perform them for the same amount of time. That can affect your overall calorie burn. For example, running at 5 mph may burn about twice as many calories as walking at 3 mph. However, you may be able to run for only 20 minutes, whereas you may be able to walk for an hour. An hour-long walk will burn a greater number of calories than the 20-minute run.

And although calorie burn is an important consideration when choosing an activity (especially if you are concerned about weight management), it isn't the only one. You should mix up your exercise regimen to minimize boredom, avoid burnout and reduce your risk of overuse injuries. In the end, you will burn the most calories overall when you are choosing activities that motivate you to exercise more often and don't cause your body to feel any strain or pain.


Blahnik is a Laguna Beach-based personal trainer and IDEA Health & Fitness Assn. spokesman.

* For your own calorie-burning counters, check out and



Sweating the numbers

Here are some calorie-burn estimates that I've compiled over the years for a fairly active 155-pound person. The rates would be slightly lower for someone who weighs less and slightly higher for someone who weighs more. Of course, the more vigorously you perform an activity, the greater the calorie burn.

-- Jay Blahnik

*--* Activity Speed/ Calories burned Calories burned intensity/type per minute per hour Running 5 mph (12 minutes 9.4 564 per mile) Walking 3 mph (20 minutes 3.8 228 per mile) Biking 10-12 mph 7 420 Swimming Slow, light 8 480 freestyle Yoga Hatha yoga 2.9 174 Dancing Recreational/ 5.8 348 ballroom *--*

Los Angeles Times Articles