Dr Gily's Calories Burned Through Exercise Calculator

Last Updated: May 7, 2015

821 Types of Physical Activity & Corrected / Individualized METs

This calculator works in two steps. First, search for the activity you performed. Once found, you will be presented with a form to enter additional individual data necessary for the calculator to estimate your caloric expenditure. Additional fields will be presented where you will input your individual information for maximum accuracy of results.


Step 1: Search For The Activity You Performed

A drop-down list of matching activities will show up as you start typing in the search box below. Please click on the activity that best matches the exercise you performed.

Matching activities will appear here as you type

What Is A MET?

Exercise is Great for Weight Maintenance - photo by Arinas74

Exercise is great for weight loss and maintenance - photo by Arinas74

MET stands for metabolic equivalent of task, which is a concept that reflects the energy costs of physical activities. Even when sleeping, our bodies still burn energy to keep us alive. This energy spent at rest is also known as the resting metabolic rate (RMR). When we are performing various physical activities, we burn an additional amount of energy, which is proportional to the intensity of each activity.

This is where the MET concept comes in handy. The MET value of a particular activity is nothing else than a multiple of the resting metabolic rate. For example, walking the dog has a standard MET value of 3.0. That means an average young, normal weight person will burn three times more energy while walking their dog than during sleep. MET values of physical activities range from 1.0 (sleeping) to 23 (running at 14 mph or a 4.3 min/mile pace - whoever can do that...).

What Is a Corrected MET?

If you are an observant reader, you must have noticed the qualifier standard I used in the paragraph above. The problem with most exercise counters on the web and elsewhere is they use the standard MET equivalent of various exercises to compute how many calories you burn. But it is quite obvious that a normal weight person will burn less calories than an obese person performing the same activity. We also know that the cost of activity increases as we advance in age. And, of course, gender differences are present, too.

Here is where the corrected METs come to rescue. Thanks to recent efforts by several researchers in exercise physiology, a formula to adjust MET values based on personal characteristics that may alter an individual's RMR (i.e., age, sex, height, and body weight) was developed. The corrected METs provide personalized MET values to reflect an individual's energy cost of physical activity. Studies have shown this formula reduces the potential for underestimation or error dramatically.

How Was This Calculator Developed?

I was recently in church, kneeling during a special prayer session that lasted well over 15 minutes. As my knees, legs and back started to ache, I was wondering how many calories I was burning (evil thought during a prayer, I know...). I looked on the web but couldn't find a clear answer. And that's how this calories burned by 800+ types of physical activity page was born.

If you used our simplified exercise calories counter, you are familiar with the concept. What this calculator does is tell you how many calories you can burn by various types of physical activity.

What is new in this version of the activity calories calculator is that you can now search from over 800 types of physical activity. That is over 13 times more activities than are available in the simplified calculator. Moreover, this version includes not only sports-like activities, but also various other types of physical activity, like shopping, cooking, playing the piano, etc.

A Few Examples...

At my current weight, I can burn in 15 minutes:

  • 18 calories by kneeling in church/at home & praying (those aches I had in church must have been a distraction from the devil... :-))
  • 18 calories by watching television while lying quietly (same as praying, hmm...)
  • 23 calories by sitting & reading a book or newspaper
  • 27 calories by typing, electric, manual, or computer
  • 36 calories by driving an automobile or light truck (not a semi)
  • 41 calories by washing dishes - standing
  • 41 calories by food shopping with or without a grocery cart, standing or walking
  • 45 calories by playing the piano (seems like one could burn quite a few calories if one would be able to play the piano for several hours :-))
  • 45 calories by cooking or food preparation - walking (not bad...)
  • 54 calories by carrying small children (this is how most new moms lose weight, in addition to breastfeeding)
  • 89 calories by praise with dance or run, spiritual dancing in church - (OK, I admit I've never done this, but there may be folks out there who are curious about it :-)). In fact, if you type "church" in the activity search box above, you will get about 16 different types of physical activity. Now that is diversity!
  • 80 calories by mowing lawn with a power mower - but 107 calories by mowing lawn, walk, with a hand mower
  • 107 calories by shoveling snow, by hand
  • 116 calories by horseback riding, trotting
  • 152 calories by bicycling, BMX or mountain (I definitely need to start doing this!)
  • 214 calories by rope jumping, fast (wow!)

How Do You Calculate Calories Burned by Exercise?

There are various resources on the web providing information regarding how many calories are burned by physical activity. While some are better than others, none is as comprehensive as the University of South Carolina's Compendium of Physical Activities. Besides being the most comprehensive, with over 800 types of physical activity included, we found it to be the most accurate. In addition, they update it periodically. I have used the latest (2011) edition for this calculator.

Based on the MET value of the activity and the length of time you spent performing it, and by factoring your individual characteristics that have an impact on your energy expenditure, we calculated the number of calories you burned.

The actual formula looks like this:

Calories burned by exercise = ((METs * 3.5 * weight in kg) / 200) * duration in minutes.

If you have any suggestions for future improvements or additions to this free exercise calorie counter, please send me a message.

Dr. Gily

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