If you’re not new to the world of fitness, you’re probably well-versed in what it takes to tone up and slim down: calories in vs. calories out, as the old saying goes. Though the latest research suggests that it may not be so simple — researchers discovered in 2016 that it can take high-intensity exercise coupled with a strict diet to get in shape quickly — calories still count, especially when you’re burning them at the gym.
Knowing the calories burned by your favorite exercise as well as others can help you design the most effective workout regimen for your fitness and weight-loss goals. Among cardio exercises, running and rollerblading top the charts, but there are at least a half-dozen other physical activities that can burn over 500 calories per hour.
Mix up your workouts and give a different mode of exercise a try — not only will the variety help you burn calories, but it will keep you motivated to keep working out.
The biggest burners
Calories burned per hour*
Based on a 160-pound person
- 861 calories burned: Running at 8 mph
- 548 calories burned: Rollerblading
- 752 calories burned: Tae kwon do
- 861 calories burned: Jump rope
- 657 calories burned: Stair treadmill
- 606 calories burned: Jogging at 5 mph
- 511 calories burned: Backpacking
- 511 calories burned: Racquetball
- 496 calories burned: Cross-country skiing
- 533 calories burned: High-impact aerobics
* Values from the Mayo Clinic Exercise for Weight Loss chart
Of course, these values are estimates, and actual calorie expenditure will not be the same for everyone. Your mileage may vary (so to speak) depending on many factors, such as the intensity of your workout, your weight and your current fitness level. And many times, calorie burning can come down to your individual body type and composition. Researches at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences discovered that black women may need to eat fewer or burn more calories than white women to lose the same amount of weight.
Originally published Feb. 2008. Updated Aug. 2016.