How to Calculate the Calories You Burn During Exercise

How to Calculate the Calories You Burn During Exercise

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Whether want to know how much fuel your body needs after a workout or you are just curious about how many calories you burned during exercise, you can estimate your calorie expenditure by using a simple calculator.

Calories Burned By Activity Calculator

To use this "calories burned exercising" calculator, you'll need to pick your activity, enter how long you performed it, and enter your weight. Though you're burning calories all the time simply by doing your normal daily activities, exercise can help you burn even more. The amount depends on the type of exercise and how long you do it.

It is important to note that calculators have an activity MET (metabolic equivalent for task) built-in. This number estimates how much energy the body uses during a specific activity. It varies based on activity and is standardized so that it can be used across the board for different people and so that it's easier to compare different activities to each other.

For example, low-impact aerobic dancing (5 METs) burns fewer calories per minute compared to high-impact aerobic dancing (7 METs). Slow-paced walking (3 METs) burns less. If you do not have a calculator, you also can use the calories burned formula to find out how many calories your activities burn.

Calories Burned Formula

Total calories burned = Duration (in minutes)*(MET*3.5*weight in kg)/200

Other Options for Determining Calories Burned

Alternatively, you can use an activity tracker to track your calories burned. You also can figure out exactly how many calories you burn each day using your total energy expenditure (TEE). To do so, you need to know your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the thermic effect of food (TEF) you eat, and your general activity level.

We've tried, tested, and reviewed the best fitness trackers. If you're in the market for an activity tracker, explore which option may be best for you.


Keep in mind that a calories burned activity calculator provides 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 (maximum oxygen uptake) to your maximum heart rate.

Since most people will not go to such lengths, use your estimate of calories burned as a base point to track your workouts.

Maybe these numbers are not totally accurate, but you at least get a sense of which activities tend to burn more calories and which activities burn fewer calories. You can tweak your workouts each week to ensure your are meeting your goals.

Other Factors to Consider

A calculator 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 level of activity.
  • Body Composition: A person with more muscle will often burn more calories than a person with higher body fat.
  • Temperature: The warmer the environment you're working out in, the more calories you will burn. This raises your body temperature so you do not have to warm up as much and more energy can be directed toward calorie burn. You can also workout longer but should be cautious not to overdo it to the point of heat exhaustion.
  • Fitness Level: An experienced exerciser will burn fewer calories because their body has become more efficient at exercise.
  • Diet: Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories, so it's directly affected by your diet. If you do not eat enough or skip meals, your metabolism can fall and affect your calorie burn.​
  • Sleep: Not getting an adequate amount of sleep can cause you to burn fewer calories. Not only will you feel more fatigued and possibly exercise less, but a lack of sleep can also reduce your metabolism as well.
  • Oxygen Intake: Oxygen gives your body the energy it needs to keep going. People who breathe more heavily during their workout tend to burn more calories. It indicates that you're working harder and for every liter of oxygen you take in, you're burning 5 calories.

A Word From Verywell

When you first start using a calories burned during activity calculator, there's no need to overwhelm yourself with numbers right off the bat. Try to focus on the goals of staying active instead.

If you add something new, run it through the formula and determine whether or not it will help you meet your goals. From there you can decide if the activity or activities you are doing are allowing you to meet your goals.

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Compendium of Physical Trackings Guide. Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina.

  2. Bushman B PhD. Complete Guide to Fitness and Health 2nd Edition. American College of Sports Medicine. Human Kinetics. 2017.

  3. Hills AP, Mokhtar N, Byrne NM. Assessment of physical activity and energy expenditure: an overview of objective measures. Front Nutr. 2014;1:5. doi:10.3389/fnut.2014.00005

  4. Del coso J, Hamouti N, Ortega JF, Mora-rodriguez R. Aerobic fitness determines whole-body fat oxidation rate during exercise in the heat. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010;35(6):741-8.  doi:10.1139/H10-068

  5. Broussard JL, Ehrmann DA, Van cauter E, Tasali E, Brady MJ. Impaired insulin signaling in human adipocytes after experimental sleep restriction: a randomized, crossover study. Ann Intern Med. 2012;157(8):549-57. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-157-8-201210160-00005

  6. McColl P. 5 things to know about metabolic equivalents. American Council on Exercise. 2017.

Additional Reading
  • McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL. Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."