I have read that in 20 minutes you will burn 35, 90 and 140 calories on driving, running and weight lifting respectively. Is this accurate?

Before I begin, be very careful when looking at 'calories'.  The 'calorie expenditure' from exercise is NOT directly related with the calories you consume.  For example, if you eat 200 calories you don't necessarily burn this off when the treadmill clicks over 200 calories.

I have found that a lot of my clients have misinterpreted information like this.  These numbers cannot be taken literally.


Figures like those quoted above are really only an indication of how much energy is expended during different forms of activities in a relative and similar manner.  Even then, they can still be extremely inaccurate.  For example, if I run at a high intensity (basically until I collapse) for 15 minutes, this will burn many more calories than if I lift weights at a lower intensity for 30 minutes.  In both these instances however, an accurate figure cannot be attributed to the amount of calories burnt - this will vary dramatically between individuals.

Miscellaneous activities aside (eg. driving), often the amount of calories burnt (during and after cardiovascular exercise) is primarily a function of intensity and of much less significance is the activity performed.  I wrote an article that was published in Australian IronMan Magazine entitled "The Fat Burning Zone".  Here I considered several studies and how exercise intensity affected fat loss (as a result of caloric expenditure).  A word of caution if you're going to read that article, I would not recommend high intensity exercise without a proper screening from a medical practitioner and personal trainer.

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