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There can be no debate over whether or not physical activity is good for you; it burns calories, increases the metabolism, strengthens muscles, joints and bones, and can have a positive effect on your general mood.
But there is debate over which exercises are best for you in terms of how many calories they burn. Does swimming burn more fat than cycling? Will step aerobics or salsa classes help you slim quicker? And is yoga any use at all in the weight loss battle?
Exercise also tends to steal the limelight from the calorie-burning efforts of rather unglamorous daily tasks, such as housework and gardening. Even humble chores can help shift fat and utilise different muscle groups. The problem is that it's difficult to know just how much they help.
While the value of exercise should be considered in terms of its long term health benefits rather than weight loss alone, the number of calories we consume while exercising matters to all of us. Knowing that you've burned over 500 calories from an hour's swimming will give you a real sense of achievement, as well as motivating you to work just as hard next time.
Below are figures about some of the most popular physical activities and the calories that a 10 stone person exercising for one hour would burn whilst doing them. We've even included some statistics on the benefits of housework, because when trying to lose weight and get fit it's good to know that every little bit counts.
|The popular exercises|
|Jogging at 6mph||644 calories|
|Rock climbing||698 calories|
|Salsa dancing||390 calories|
|The humble chores|
|Dog walking||224 calories|
While these lists are by no means comprehensive, they do provide a rough outline of how many calories you will burn through doing different physical activities. And in this day and age, when it's difficult to fit in gym sessions around a hectic lifestyle, it's heartening to know that an hour of pulling up weeds can be even more vigorous (although possibly less fun for some?) than an evening's salsa dancing!
Trying to remember and calculate your calorie consumption on a daily basis can be a confusing task. A much easier and more rewarding way of keeping track of your calorie expenditure is to relate it to the amount of calories you consume. In other words, work out how much exercise will burn off certain indulgent 'treats'.
|1 Starbucks cappuccino||=150 calories||=50 minutes cycling|
|1 jam doughnut||=250 calories||=30 minutes swimming|
|1 large glass red wine||=160 calories||=30 minutes gardening|
|1 medium sized portion of chips||=270 calories||=40 minutes salsa dancing|
|1 croissant||=275 calories||=75 minutes housework|
While it's important not to obsess over every morsel you eat, thinking about food in terms of exercise rather than just calories can help motivate you to get active and stick to a weight loss programme. Knowing that you've worked hard to burn off excess calories will increase your determination not let that effort go to waste.
So with any luck, keeping in mind that one cheeky doughnut equals roughly half an hour's toil in the swimming pool will make it easier to abstain next time!
Did you know In a recent survey of 274 Nutracheck Members 2 in 3 people found our food diary approach more successful than their previous weight loss attempts!!