How to Calculate How Many Calories You Burn During Exercise

How to Calculate Your Exercise Calories

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Getty Images/Kevin Kozick

If you're trying to lose weight, you know you have to create a calorie deficit, right? To do that, you need to know how many calories your burn each day. That includes:

To calculate how many calories you burn during exercise, you have plenty of options. There are online calculators you can use and almost every activity tracker out there will usually estimate how many calories you burn.

There's also a simple formula you can use along with a chart of common exercises and how many calories you burn, on average, per minute.

Calories Burned Formula

Activity value x your body weight in kg (1kg = 2.2 lbs) x the duration of your workout.

You can get the activity values from The American Council on Exercise's chart of Calorie Cost of Various Physical Activities adapted from Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance (5th Ed.).

I've listed some of the most common exercises we do below with the calories burned per minute. Choose your activity and plug it into the formula to get an average of calories burned during exercise.

So, let's say you walked for 4 mph for 35 minutes and you weigh 145 pounds. Here's what your formula would look like:

.08 x 66 kg x 35 = 184 calories burned.

Keep in mind this is a very broad estimate and it isn't going to be exact. The only way to get a truly accurate number is to go to a lab and have them hook you up to machines that measure everything from your VO2 max to your maximum heart rate.

Otherwise, use your estimate of calories burned as a base point to track your workouts. If you typically burn a certain number of calories during a certain type of workout, you can use that number and increase it to burn more calories or decrease it if you're feeling burned out or overtrained.

Calorie Cost of Various Activities


Running (5 mph, 12 min/mile)            0.12

Running 5.5 mph (11 min/mile)          0.14

Running (6 mph, 10 min/mile)            0.16

Running (6.6 mph, 9 min/mile)           0.19

Running (7.5 mph 8 min/mile)            0.22

Running (8.6 mph, 7 min/mile)           0.24

Running (10 mph, 6 min/mile)            0.28

Calisthenics (push-ups, etc.)             0.08

Circuit Training                                 0.14

Weight Training (light)                       0.05

Weight Training (hard)                       0.10

Walking (3 mph 20 min/mile)             0.06

Walking (3.5 mph, 17 min/mile)         0.07

Walking (4 mph 15 min/mile)             0.08

Cycling (stationary, 50W)                  0.05

Stretching/Yoga                               0.06

Aerobics (low impact)                       0.09

Aerobics (high impact)                      0.12

There's no 100% accurate way to calculate calories burned, so we have to use the tools we have. Most cardio machines will give you a general number of calories burned, but keep in mind that's just an estimate and doesn't take into account all of the factors that influence exercise intensity such as:

  • Age - The older you are, the harder you have to work to get to a higher intensity
  • Body composition -  A person with more muscle will often burn more calories than a person with a higher body fat
  • Fitness level - An experienced exerciser will burn fewer calories because his or her body has become more efficient at exercise

Your best option is to use these numbers as kind of a baseline. Maybe they're not totally accurate, but you at least get a sense of which activities tend to burn more calories and you can tweak your workouts each week to get a little more out of your exercise time.

For example, if you usually walk at  3 mph, try bumping up your speed to the next level or raise your incline. Even just doing that a few times throughout the workout can increase how many calories you burn.


Comana, F., M.A., M.S. (n.d.). Caloric Cost of Physical Activity.

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