So why the focus on 500 calories an hour you might be asking? Well, based on the fact that one pound of fat equates to around 3,500 calories, a daily workout of one hour where you burn 500 calories, should help you lose a pound a week, as long as your diet is sensible. Armed with this info then, what exercises are ideal to help you achieve this 500 calorie target daily.
According to Harvard Medical University (and you would reckon they know what they’re talking about) a person weighing 185 pounds burns 500 calories in around 33 minutes on the exercise bike. But here’s the rub, to achieve that, they would need to cycle ‘vigorously’ for the entire duration. In other words – non-stop, full-pelt effort! So you can afford to do something slightly more sedate that will still get you to the 500 mark in 60 minutes, although intervals will almost certainly be required. The exercise bike is a wonderful low-impact aerobic exercise that will burn fat and get the heart rate up. And if you prefer the great outdoors, then an hour cycling on the roads, ideally up and down hill, will certainly do the trick.
The faster you run, the more calories you burn and the figures bear this out. An hour of running at 8 mph (that’s running at a 7 and half minute mile pace) will burn a whopping 986 calories. But an even more methodical 5 mph (12 minute mile pace) will get rid of 584 calories. Now these figures are based on a person weighing 160 pounds and it is worth making the point that we all burn calories at different rates. But that said, broadly speaking it is definitely a great idea to strap on those running shoes and hit the road or the treadmill. If you can incorporate interval training within your hour workout, then even better, as this will help you burn more fat and calories.
You could have a go at either resistance training, where you can use your body weight in exercises like press-ups, the plank or sit ups, or try lifting weights in the gym and watch the calories rack up. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), you burn over 20 calories a minute with a kettle bell workout, which is a huge 1,200 calories an hour! But the real beauty of weight-training lies not only in the calories you burn at the time (around 10 calories a minute when you’re lifting upwards of 5 pounds or 11 kg), but in the calories you continue to burn after you finish your session, which will really help you fight the flab.
Why does this happen? Well heaving weights around requires a lot of effort and so your body springs into repair mode when you finish, pumping huge amounts of oxygen to tired muscles. That requires energy, which burns calories while you are sat on the sofa recovering from your session. Indeed you can continue to burn calories for up to 38 hours AFTER your workout. Genius.
Dancing is a brilliant way of dropping a few pounds, just ask any of the stars who have appeared on celebrity dance shows on television. Some high impact dance is ideal for hitting the 500-calorie mark, such as tap dancing, Salsa and Zumba. These forms of dance are fantastic full body workouts. The beauty of dance is that it will also burn fat, build muscle and get your heart rate up. And because you don’t necessarily have to go to a gym to do it, or heave yourself into unflattering lycra, the chances are you are more likely to keep going back for more.
Alas we’re not talking doggy paddle here. This requires an hour of intense, technique-focused swimming, but if you do it properly, the calories will disappear. It’s low impact, so great for the more injury prone among you. But using the full array of muscles in your body means you will burn fat and calories and turn into a lean fighting machine. And like all forms of exercise, if you can inject some speed intervals, mixed with steady swimming, then the results will be impressive and you’ll look fabulous in those Speedos or swimming cossie.