Usually, the more intense an exercise routine is, the more calories it burns.
Some research suggests that high intensity interval training (HIIT), which blends bursts of intense activity with periods of less intense activity, burns more calories than traditional exercises, such as running.
Other exercises that increase the heart rate, including jumping rope, running, and cycling, can also burn calories.
Although the number of calories that a person uses will vary depending on a variety of factors, including weight and fitness level, the following exercises can help burn the most:
Running, especially at a high intensity for a sustained period, is one of the most intense exercises, and it burns more calories than some other routines.
If a person who weighs 160 pounds runs at 6 miles per hour (mph), they can burn 364 calories in 30 minutes or 3 miles. Running faster, or alternating sprinting with jogging, may further increase the number of calories that a person burns.
Jumping rope offers similar exercise benefits to running while also cultivating balance and coordination.
A person weighing 160 pounds can burn about 291 calories in 30 minutes of jumping rope.
To prevent boredom, people can try changing the speed and style by jumping on one foot or slowing and speeding up throughout the workout. It can help to try exercising to music.
Swimming can be a high intensity activity, but it is easier on the joints than activities such as running and jumping rope. It may also feel more comfortable for people who dislike getting hot or sweating.
Someone with a body weight of 160 pounds will burn about 218 calories if they swim for 30 minutes.
To maximize calorie burn, a person will need to swim quickly. Leisurely swims burn far fewer calories.
A leisurely trip around a flat driveway will not burn many calories, but intense cycling, either on a stationary bike or while navigating outdoor hills, can strengthen the lower body and burn plenty of calories.
A person who weighs 160 pounds can burn 291 calories cycling outdoors at 12–14 mph for 30 minutes.
People can increase the intensity of the routine by choosing a challenging bike trail that includes hills.
HIIT uses a combination of intense aerobic exercise and low intensity exercise or anaerobic exercise. As a result, it may help a person burn more calories.
HIIT also increases the body’s oxygen demands, which causes it to burn more calories. It is possible to incorporate interval training into just about any exercise.
A person can try the following:
- Do a typical workout, but incorporate short bursts of exercise at maximum capacity. For example, sprint for 30–60 seconds every 3 minutes when jogging.
- Add weight training to an aerobic exercise. For instance, take a 1-minute break from the stationary bike to squat or lift weights every few minutes.
- Swim one length of the pool as quickly as possible and then swim back at a leisurely pace. Repeat 10–15 times.
People burn calories at different rates. Several factors affect this rate, including:
- Weight: The more a person weighs, the more energy their body needs. As a result, they burn more calories than a person with a lower body weight would doing the same routine.
- Exercise intensity: The more intense an activity is, the more calories it burns. The most intense activities elevate a person’s heart rate to the extent that it becomes difficult or impossible for them to talk.
- Duration of exercise: Longer routines burn more calories. A 30-second sprint may be more intense, but it will burn fewer calories than a sustained 30-minute workout of a lower intensity.
- Muscle mass: Muscle requires more energy than fat to maintain and, therefore, burns more calories. Due to this, as a person builds more muscle, they burn more calories — even when they are resting.
It is easy to modify some of the most effective exercises for home use. Some people choose to invest in a treadmill or stationary bike to do cardio at home.
Other people take part in online exercise classes or use exercise apps.
The American Council on Exercise provide a high intensity routine that blends cardio and strength training, which a person can do at home.
People who do not have access to gym equipment at home can use their body weight to perform resistance activities or substitute household items, such as heavy books, for weights.
Skilled athletes can usually start a new exercise program without much preparation or support.
However, many people who are looking to lose weight or improve their fitness are not experienced athletes. These tips can help:
- Talk to a health provider first: They can offer advice on the most suitable frequency and intensity of exercise and suggest sensible restrictions.
- Adapt exercises to injury and health history: If a routine hurts the knees, for example, change to a different form of exercise.
- Start small: Begin with brief bursts of lower intensity exercise. The idea is to build fitness over time to progress to more challenging workouts. Steadily increase intensity over time.
- Prioritize any exercise over none: A person might not be able to do a 30-minute jog at first, but 5 minutes can still make a difference. Any exercise is a good start compared with none at all.
While some workouts clearly burn more calories than others, the workout with the highest calorie burn is not always the best choice.
To get the most out of an exercise routine, a person must find something that they like doing and that they can sustain for 20–30 minutes over many weeks and months.
It is also important to start with a workout that is suitable for a person’s ability and injury history. For example, a person with knee problems might not be able to run, and someone who is new to exercise may have to work up to intense routines.
A doctor can help with selecting a safe routine, and a physical therapist or personal trainer may be able to recommend specific exercises.