How much do you know about burning caloriesfrom exercise?

Take this quiz on exercise and energy expenditure, or jump to our calorie burn calculator 🔥 to learn how much you work off during workouts.  
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Which activity burns the most calories?

Playing tennis (singles)
Vacuuming
Running (10-minute mile pace)
Downhill skiing

The correct answer is: Running.
A 155-lb person burns 704 calories in one hour.

You got it! A 155-lb person burns 704 calories in one hour.

Exercise scientists assign intensity ratings to different activities using a measurement called MET, which stands for metabolic equivalent of a task. One MET equals the amount of energy used to sit quietly. Light-intensity activities use between 1.6 and 3 METs, moderate-intensity activities use 3 to 6 METs, and vigorous-intensity activities use at least 6 METs. To figure out how many calories you burn during a workout, you need to know the MET for that specific activity. The MET for a 10-minute-mile is 9.8; tennis is 8; vacuuming is 3.8; vigorous skiing is 8.

What does RPE stand for?

Reps per exercise
Rate of perceived exertion
Running pace equivalent
Resting perspiration expenditure

The correct answer is: Rate of perceived exertion

You got it! The answer is Rate of perceived exertion

The Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale is a subjective way to measure the intensity of your workout as a rough proxy for heart rate. To come up with a rating, you holistically assess various sensations that you experience while working out, such as how heavily you’re breathing, how much you’re sweating and how tired your muscles feel. Then, you assign your overall exertion a rating from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximum effort). This range of numbers makes it easy to convert your RPE into a heart rate score: Multiply your answer by 10 to come up with a heart rate estimate. (Here’s a helpful overview of heart rate from the American Heart Association.)

There are also other ways to assess your level of exertion. One is the talk test, which determines intensity based on how comfortably you can talk out loud during exercise. If you can talk but you can’t sing, you’re at a moderate intensity level. If you can only say a few words at a time between breaths, you’re exercising vigorously.

Will you burn more calories working out if you stick to the same type of exercise?

Yes
No

The correct answer is: no, at some point, you’ll start to burn fewer.

You got it! The answer is no, at some point, you’ll start to burn fewer.

When you do the same exercise over and over, your body becomes more efficient at performing it. Trying new activities and varying up your workout routine can help combat this issue.

Can you burn as many calories from a sauna session as a workout?

Yes
No

The correct answer is: no

You got it! The answer is no

Sweating it out in the sauna has been linked to numerous health benefits, such as reductions in blood pressure and stress, as well as improvements in cardiovascular health and immune function.

Regarding weight-related outcomes, sauna bathing can cause temporary weight loss through reduced water weight. And it might even enhance energy expenditure from exercise: In one study, people who wore sauna suits during high-intensity interval training burned 23 more calories, on average, than those who exercised in regular clothing. Still, there’s no evidence that  sauna usage burns calories the way exercise does.

Which term refers to the amount of energy your body burns in an inactive state?

Sedentary energy output
Inactivity burn rate
Static calorie expenditure
Resting metabolic rate

The correct answer is: Resting metabolic rate (RMR)

You got it! The answer is Resting metabolic rate (RMR)

Resting metabolic rate is often used as a benchmark for how efficient your metabolism is. Numerous variables affect RMR, and the most precise way to measure it is through indirect calorimetry, which analyzes oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production. But outside the lab, you can use one of a few formulas to come up with an RMR estimate based on your gender, age, weight and height. There’s a lot of individual variability in RMR, but many studies report an average RMR between 1,200 and 1,500 for women and 1,500 and 2,000 for men. So, if your RMR is 1,700 calories, that means you burn 1,700 calories a day without exercising.

Exercise directly burns calories, and it can also cause RMR to stay elevated for a few hours after working out (i.e., it causes a temporary metabolism boost). This phenomenon is called excess post-exercise O2 consumption, or EPOC. Studies suggest that certain types of high-intensity exercise, such as HIIT and sprinting, might have an especially pronounced impact on RMR.

Which term refers to the total number of calories you burn in a day?

Collective calorie deficit
Total daily energy expenditure
Daily burn count
Energy output composite

The correct answer is: Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)

You got it! Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)

Everything you do, from breathing to fidgeting to mountain biking, burns calories. TDEE is the sum of all the energy you expend in a day, and it has four components:

  • RMR, which is the biggest contributor to TDEE
  • Diet-induced thermogenesis, which is energy expended as heat after a meal
  • Circumstantial biological factors, such as extra calories burned from breastfeeding or regulatig body temperature in an extreme climate
  • Physical activity, which is further broken down into exercise and “NEAT,” meaning non-exercise activities like typing, commuting and carrying a baby. Physical activity is the only part of TDEE that’s somewhat within your control, and it’s worth paying attention to both sub-components here. TDEE can vary considerably from one person to the next, and research suggests that differences in NEAT drive variability more than anything else does.

If, through regular exercise, you burn more calories than you consume, will you lose weight?

Yes
No
Only if you don’t eat carbs
It depends — weight loss is complicated

The correct answer is: It depends — weight loss is complicated

You got it! It depends — weight loss is complicated

Both biological and environmental factors affect weight, and they’re not all within our control. Working out has a greater impact on weight loss for some people than others. Research indicates considerable variability in how exercise affects metabolism, appetite and hormone functioning. But many studies have found exercise to be an important component of sustained weight loss. In one 2022 study, for example, people who’d lost weight and kept it off for years exhibited high levels of physical activity. Not to mention, exercise has measurable health benefits beyond weight loss, especially for people who are overweight or have obesity.

About how many steps are in a mile?

10,000
500
1,000
2,000

The correct answer is: About 2,000

You got it! About 2,000

Adults are advised to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week in order to achieve the health and longevity benefits associated with exercise. Some experts have translated that recommendation to mean at least 7,000 steps a day, which is about 3.5 miles.

You got X / Y questions right!

Calorie-burn calculator

You can use this calculator to see how many calories you burn during a workout — just select an activity, and then enter how long you performed it for and how much you weigh.

Remember that the resulting number is an estimate of calories burned. Numerous factors can affect how much energy you expend during exercise, and you’d need to go to a lab for a precise measurement.

But an estimate is useful as a general understanding of how vigorous your favorite way to exercise is, and how it compares to other activities.