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Burning Calories

Health NewsWe've all read about special pills or formulas that help your body "burn" excess calories. If only it were that simple.

But the reality is this: you need to burn off 3,500 calories more than you take in to lose 1 pound, according to the American Dietetic Association (ADA). One way to do this is to reduce the amount of calories you take in. But ADA says diet alone isn't as effective as diet and exercise.

Calculate CaloriesYou can use our calculator to see the number of calories burned by various activities. To check the results, or in case the calculator won't work on your computer, check the figures given later in this article. But remember all these numbers are only approximate, and depend on a variety of factors. But this can give you an idea of how exercise can help in the battle of the bulge. (Read about "Obesity") For example: A 150-pound person who keeps on eating the same amount of calories, but decides to walk briskly each day for 1 1/2 miles will lose about 10 pounds in a year. (Read about "Getting Started on Fitness") If that person went on a sensible diet plan, he or she could lose even more. (Read about "Losing Weight")

How our bodies burn calories

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most of the energy we burn every day goes towards basic functions such as:

But beyond this, any physical activity in addition to what we normally do burns up extra calories. Just how many calories are we talking about? Just to give you an idea, here is the amount of calories used during an hours worth of specific activities, according to NIH. These figures are based on a 150-pound person. Heavier people burn more calories, lighter people burn less. For example, a 100-pound person burns 1/3 fewer calories, so you would multiply the number of calories by 0.7. For a 200-pound person, multiply by 1.3.

(Source: NIH)

You may not be able to sustain some of these activities for a full hour. But even twenty minutes can help you on your way. And by the way, working harder or faster for a given activity will only slightly increase the calories spent. According to NIH, a better way to burn up more calories is to increase the time spent on your activity. In addition, remember when calculating calories burned, that the times do not include the necessary warm-up and cool-down period that accompany the workout, although proper warm-up and cool-down are important to help prevent injury. (Read about "Avoid Sports Injury") And of course, always consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on any diet or fitness program.

Related Information:

    Dietary Guidelines

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