If you are looking to lose weight, you'll need to know how to convert exercise to calories. Losing weight means burning more calories than you eat over a given period of time.
Not all calories need to be burned through traditional exercise; your body is burning calories every minute of the day, whether you are sleeping or whether you are running a marathon. Of course, intense exercise burns more calories than sleeping does, so you'll need a formula to estimate your daily calorie burn.
Estimating Calorie Burn
You can estimate your daily calorie burn very simply. If you take your age, sex, and overall activity level into consideration, you can get a rough estimate about how many calories your body is burning each day. For example, have you ever noticed that the daily recommended calorie intake is 2500 calories for men and 2000 calories for women? Of course, this is a complete generalization that does not take age or activity level into account. Some men only need 2000 calories per day, and some women need 2500 calories, or more, per day.
Use the Free Dieting calculator for a general idea of how many calories your body needs each day.
Fine-Tuning the Estimation
The calculator uses general information about you and your lifestyle in order to determine how many calories you need to eat each day. But just how accurate is it? You can do your own calculation by first sitting down and making a detailed list of how many hours you spend each day doing what. Make sure the total is 24 hours; don't leave out any sleeping or television time!
Once you have your complete list, look up each daily activity in your list on Spirita; scroll down to see everyday activities such as sitting, standing, driving and cleaning the house. In order to get a good estimate of how many calories are burned during exercise, check out Nutristrategy for in-depth estimates by activity and by your weight.
Is your calculation close to the calorie calculator's calculation? For some people, the estimates are different; stick with your fine-tuned estimate as long as you're sure you've accurately recorded your hourly activities.
How to Convert Exercise to Calories & Weight Loss
Once you know what your daily estimated calorie burn is, you can make a goal for yourself about how many more calories you want to burn per week. If you want to lose one pound a week, you'll need to burn an extra 3500 calories per week. This is generally too high of a goal; it requires burning extra calories through exercise as well as cutting calories from your diet. Aiming for a pound every two weeks is a more realistic goal; to meet this goal, you must burn an extra 250 calories per day.
Choosing which exercises for losing weight appeal to you is a personal matter. Some people go for the most intensive option, opting for exercises that burn the most calories. For other people, knowing that they are choosing an activity that they will enjoy (and therefore more likely to continue) is more important than the number of calories that that activity burns per hour.
For many people, the key to losing weight is to choose something in between. On some days, go for an intense workout, and on other days, take a stroll around the block with a friend. While strolling around the block might not burn 250 calories for that day, if you have other days with intense workouts that burn 500 calories, your average will end up around the 250 calories a day goal.
You can set your goal wherever you want to. Make sure that you are eating enough to get adequate vitamins, minerals and energy for your workouts and make sure that you are staying hydrated. Getting sick or getting dehydrated can sabotage the best intentions. Most importantly, once you've calculated how to convert exercise to calories and set a daily calorie burning goal, stick with it! Sticking with it is the key to losing that weight you'd like to lose.