We, humans, are lazy these days. We sit in the office, we sit in the car, we sit on the train – and we also sit at home most of the time. Yet our bodies want to move. And it has to. At the turn of the year, many people resolve: “I’m going to do more sport this year! Because the holidays make themselves felt with extra belly or hip fat. Sort burns the most calories. But which sport is most effective? Jogging, Zumba or aerobics? In this article, we will explain which activity burns the most calories in the shortest time.
What are calories?
Put simply, you can think of the body as a stove. The calories are the wood that is thrown into the stove, and the energy we need to breathe and move is the heat that is produced when it burns. If too much wood is thrown into the stove, the fire burns like a blaze and warms more than the room needs. In this case, it usually helps to open the window to cool down. However, our body has no window to get rid of the excess energy. The “too much” is stored as fat and shows up as “hip gold” or “raccoon belly”.
Those who want to lose weight should know that only with a negative energy balance can the fat on the hips melt at all. This means that the body must be supplied with fewer calories than it consumes. But what are calories? They are an almost obsolete unit of measurement from thermodynamics. A calorie is the amount of energy needed to heat one millilitre of water from 14.5 to 15.5 degrees Celsius.
How does the body burn calories?
For the human body, the unit of measurement for burning fat is important. This is a constant process. In the process, the body gets the energy from food, which is then needed for muscle movement, body heat regulation, mental activity and many other things. Here, too, the vernacular often speaks of calories, but scientifically the energy requirement is expressed in kilocalories (Kcal) or (more modern) in joules (J). One kilocalorie is equal to 4.1868 kilojoules, one joule is equal to 0.239 calories.
However, energy is also needed for energy production. To break down the food and convert the fats, proteins and carbohydrates into energy, the body also has to make some effort. The remaining energy is called the “physiological calorific value”. The information on food packaging, therefore, refers to the energy that is ultimately available to the body from that food. For example, one gram of fat provides nine kilocalories, one gram of protein and one gram of carbohydrates each provides four kilocalories, and one gram of alcohol provides seven kilocalories. “Burning calories” is, therefore, in simplified terms, nothing more than the consumption of energy.
Why exercise is so important for losing weight
If you want to lose weight, you have two options: eat fewer calories or consume more through exercise. Experts always advise against short-term diets, because they are often followed by the unpopular yo-yo effect. Option two is therefore more sensible. Get moving! You burn calories both during and after exercise: Trained and larger muscles consume significantly more calories even when at rest.
Sport makes you smart and happy
During a training session, the brain receives significantly more oxygen and releases the hormone ACTH. This so-called creativity hormone lowers blood pressure and improves thinking and concentration. But the sport also makes you happy, because the happiness hormone serotonin is also released into the body in greater quantities during sport. And last but not least, sport makes you attractive. A well-toned body goes hand in hand with fresh, smooth skin and enhanced radiance. Sport also stimulates libido, lowers cholesterol, prevents diabetes and strokes, and so on. The list is almost endless.
Calorie consumption: What kind of exercise burns how many calories?
But which type of exercise is right for everyone? Those who have a choice are spoilt for choice because not every training session burns the same number of calories. Consumption also depends on other factors such as height, weight, age and training intensity. Therefore, the following are guidelines and may vary from person to person. Here are our top ten ways to burn the most calories in the shortest time:
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT), e.g. Tabata: up to 700 Kcal/hour.
- Jogging: up to 540 Kcal/hour
- Strength training: up to 480 Kcal/hour
- Tae-Bo: up to 460 Kcal/hour
- Nordic walking: up to 440 Kcal/hour
- Swimming: up to 435 Kcal/hour
- Cycling: up to 410 Kcal/hour
- Inline skating: up to 408 Kcal/hour
- Cross-country skiing: up to 300 Kcal/hour
- Zumba: up to 280 Kcal/hour
Undisputedly at the top of the list is high-intensity interval training – often abbreviated as HIIT. With intense intervals, such as those common in Tabata or circuit training, you burn by far the most calories. The reason is simple: short, high-intensity workouts throw our bodies out of balance – they have to adapt quickly. As a result, our muscle activity, breathing rate and heart rate increase. All this burns large amounts of calories. Especially the use of large muscle groups, e.g. thighs and buttocks, leads to high-calorie consumption.
But classic jogging also burns some calories. Those who put on their running shoes not only do something for the cardiovascular system and gain endurance but also burn an enormous number of calories. A 39-year-old test person, weighing 60 kilograms and 1.70 metres tall, burned 547 kilocalories per hour during a measurement in Cologne. However, jogging is only suitable for people with healthy joints. Those who do not want to or cannot run should switch to swimming or cycling.
Tae-Bo made it onto the list because it burns a particularly large number of calories during intensive training. This is because training with boxing elements involves, among other things, intensive arm movements. Simple walking is out today. Those who reach for the Nordic walking poles achieve a higher speed and also consume more energy. Inline skating is also comparable. Here, coordination is trained in addition to fitness.
You can check out our other useful articles about health here.