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This page contains information about the energy consumed during certain exercises. These formulas are very useful for keeping track of your exercise program, especially if you get exercise in a variety of different ways. Keeping track of calories consumed is useful for several reasons:

The page includes a longer section on bicycling, and a summary table. Choose cycling or other exercises on the left, or from the links below.


One of the puzzles of bicycling that has always interested me is the relationship between speed, distance and the amount of energy expended during a bicycle ride. Knowledge of this relationship allows the rider to make decisions about how far or fast to ride in order to burn a specific number of calories (Kcal). Data from metabolic trials on bicycle riders can be used to discover this relationship.

Cycling Energy Curves The graph on the right shows the relationship between speed and the rate of energy consumption for a 150 pound rider under three different conditions. The top curve (in green) shows a bicyclist riding on a gravel road with a mountain bike, the middle curve (in blue) is a bicyclist on a paved road riding a touring bicycle, and the lowest curve (red) shows a racing bicyclist. Data for the bottom two relationships comes from Whitt, F.R. & D. G. Wilson. 1982. Bicycling Science (second edition). The MIT Press, Cambridge MA. p.37.

These relationships can be written as follows, where y represents the rate of energy consumption in Kcal / min for a 150 pound rider, x represents the average speed travelled in miles per hour, and exp(a) means e to the power of a:

As is evident from these relationships, speed is important, but if a rider is trying to increase the number of calories consumed in a ride, it is far better to increase the distance travelled (and therefore the amount of time riding) than to increase the speed travelled. For example, a 20 mile ride with an average speed of 19 mph on a touring bicycle works out like this: rate of energy consumption = 1.41 * exp(0.125 * 19) = 15.2 Kcal / min. A 20 mile ride at 19 mph takes 63 minutes, so the total energy consumed over the course of the ride equals 63 * 15.2 = 958 calories. If the rider increases his or her speed to 20 mph, the total energy consumed is 1032 calories. This is equivalent to riding 21.5 miles at 19 mph, or riding for 68 minutes at 19 mph. In other words, the same amount of energy is consumed by riding for 8 additional minutes at 19 mph, versus 20 mph.

Other Activities

The following table shows the amount of energy consumed for various activities. The figures in the right-hand column (or the results of the equations) are expressed as kilocalories / minute / kilogram. Calories, as reported on food labels are actually kilocalories, so the results from this table can be interpreted in the same way as food labels.

These figures and equations were derived from a variety of sources, including:

To use these tables, you need to know how much you weight in kilograms, and how many minutes you participated in the activity. Several of the activities have other variables related to how hard you were working while you were exercising. To convert between pounds and kilograms, simply multiply your weight in pounds by 0.45. The following are some conversions:


For example, on the first part of a backpacking trip I took recently, I hiked for about 8 hours with a pack that weighted 70 pounds. I weigh 150 pounds, so my pack is 46% of my weight (70 / 150). My weight in kilograms is 67.5 Kg (150 * 0.45). Eight hours is 480 minutes (8 * 60). As shown below, the equation is 0.07 * (1 + pack weight) * number of minutes * weight in kilograms. This works out to be 3,327 Kilocalories (0.07 * 1.46 * 480 * 67.5). Remember that Kilocalories are the same thing as the calories that are printed on food labels.

Exercise Equation, Estimate
(All results in kcal / min / kg)
Aerobics (standard) ( 0.024 * level ) + 0.0434

level: 1-5
Aerobics (step) ( 0.0082 * height * rate / 120 ) + 0.0516

height: inches, rate: steps / min
Basketball half court: 0.1389
full court: 0.1940
Bicycling mountain bike: 0.0216 * e( 0.144 * speed)
touring bike: 0.0207 * e( 0.125 * speed)
racing bike: 0.0201 * e( 0.107 * speed)

speed: miles / hour
Canoeing ( 0.0438 * speed ) - 0.0435

speed: miles / hour
Football (touch) 0.1342
Golf cart: 0.0458
pull clubs: 0.0760
carry clubs: 0.0878
Hiking 0.07 * ( 1 + pack weight )

pack weight: percent of body weight
Raquetball 0.1520
Rowing ( 0.0329 * speed ) + 0.0338

speed: miles / hour
Running ( 0.0024 * speed2 ) - ( 0.0104 * speed ) + 0.1408

speed: miles / hour
Scuba 0.1130
Shoveling snow light snow: 0.1336
medium snow: 0.1717
heavy snow: 0.2098
Skating low speed: 0.0833
medium: 0.1142
high: 0.1451
Skiing (downhill) 0.1060
Skiing (cross-country) ( 0.0153 * speed ) + 0.0619

speed: miles / hour
Snowshoeing 0.1660
Soccer 0.1402
Swimming, crawl ( 0.0037 * speed ) - 0.0006

speed: yards / minute
Tennis singles: 0.1151
doubles: 0.0731
Volleyball low intensity: 0.0588
high intensity: 0.1256
Walking ( 0.008 * speed2 ) - ( 0.0301 * speed) + 0.0822

speed: miles / hour
Walking upstairs 0.2573
Yoga 0.0578