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Running may seem the toughest, but it may not be the most efficient.
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If your time is limited, you likely want to get the biggest bang for your buck, that is, burn the most calories per hour possible. Running, swimming and cycling are effective cardio options and each has its own unique benefits. However, they vary in terms of the number of calories burned per hour. Before deciding whether to run, swim or cycle, compare the calorie-burning potential. Also keep in mind that the terrain, the number of hills and the incline of hills, as well as other factors, can impact the number of calories you actually burn.1.
Determine the number of calories you typically burn while running. In 30 minutes of running at 5.2 mph, a 125-pound person will burn 270 calories, a 155-pound person will burn 335 calories and a 185-pound person will burn 400 calories. For an estimate of calories burned while running for 30 minutes, multiply your weight by 2.16. Increasing the speed at which you run will increase your calorie burn. For example, running at 6.7 mph for 30 minutes will burn 330 calories in a 125-pound person, 409 calories in a 155-pound person and 488 calories in a 185-pound person.2.
Calculate calories burned while swimming, based on swimming laps at a vigorous pace. A 125-pound person burns 300 calories in 30 minutes, while a 155-pound person burns 372 calories and a 185-pound person burns 444 calories in 30 minutes. Multiply your weight by 2.4 for an estimate of the calories burned while swimming at a vigorous pace for 30 minutes.3.
Calculate the calories burned while cycling for 30 minutes at 12 to 13.9 mph. A 125-pound person burns 240 calories cycling for 30 minutes, while a 155-pound person burns 298 calories and a 185-pound person burns 355 calories. Multiply your weight by 1.92 for an estimate of the calories burned while cycling for 30 minutes at a pace of 12 to 13.9 mph.
- Running may be the best calorie burner, but if you have knee or joint issues or other health concerns, low-impact exercise such as cycling, or no-impact exercise such as swimming, might be better choices for you.