Keeping your body in top shape, minimizing the risk of life-threatening diseases, enhancing cardiorespiratory fitness and improving your body composition may be some compelling reasons that might motivate you to engage in aerobic activities. However, it’s worth noting that different modes of exercise influence your caloric expenditure differently. In other words, different types of exercise burn different amounts of calories.
The key to maximum calorie-burning is opting for an exercise mode that targets your large muscles in a continuous manner and that is relatively simple to keep up at a consistent intensity. As large muscles have high energy requirements, they help to burn more calories. However, besides energy expenditure, other factors too demand equal attention when it comes to choosing a workout mode.
Classification of Aerobic Exercise Modes
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) categorizes aerobic exercise modes into three groups. This classification is based on the skill requirements of individual activities. Group I activities include jogging, walking, stair climbing and cycling. These activities provide a consistent energy expenditure and intensity that are independent of the participant’s skill level. Activities in Group II category include swimming, hiking, water aerobics, aerobic dancing and bench stepping. If you weigh 155 pounds, engaging in hiking and aerobic dancing for about an hour will help you burn 422 calories. An important thing to note is that the rate of calories burned doing these activities relies on the participant’s performance ability. That means, if you have higher skill levels, you can exercise for a long period of time and digest more calories. Finally, the Group III activities include volleyball, basketball and racquet sports, which differ variably when it comes to energy expenditure as they have different performance requirements. A 155 pound person will burn 281 calories, 563 calories and 493 calories for one hour of volleyball, basketball and racquet sports. For long-lasting heart health, it is of utmost importance to pick a combination of activities that energize the lungs, muscles and heart.
Considerations in Selecting the Mode of Exercise
Aside from caloric expenditure, factors that should be taken into account when choosing a mode of exercise include physical needs, fitness goals, personal interest, facility and equipment availability and injury risk. Choosing the appropriate mode of exercise matters most for a steady and consistent calorie burning. Also, increasing the amount as well as intensity of exercise helps to get additional fitness benefits.
Intensity of Exercise: Augmenting Energy Expenditure
Modify the intensity of exercise you choose to augment your energy expenditure. Simply, select a mode of exercise that you can adjust to make your cardiorespiratory system work harder. For example, increase the treadmill grade to make treadmill walking more challenging or increase the pedaling resistance to make cycling intensity more demanding or boost the step aerobics workout intensity by adding a step riser to raise the stepping height. Selecting a mode that permits intermix of high intensity intervals with low-to-moderate intensity intervals may accelerate your body’s efficiency to burn calories, according to ACSM.
Upper and Lower Body Exercise Modes
Exercises such as skiing, swimming and rowing use the muscles of your upper and lower body. Though these exercises rope in more muscles, they involve less muscle mass compared to running and hence expend fewer calories at the same intensity level. Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing and skiing on water burn 493 calories, 422 calories and 422 calories per hour, respectively, if you weigh 155 pounds. Swimming and rowing for the same amount of time will help you expend 422 calories and 493 calories, respectively. In comparison, you will burn more calories, approximately 563 calories, while running at a pace of 5 miles per hour. If you accelerate to 8 miles per hour, you can burn up 950 calories straight away. But since swimming exerts less pressure on your joints and bones, you’re able to exercise for a long period of time and burn as much energy as high-intensity workouts. On the other hand, skiing demands certain skill proficiency to deliver its energy expenditure benefits.
Non-Weight-Bearing vs. Weight-Bearing Exercise Modes
Non-weight-bearing exercise modes include cycling, whereas weight-bearing exercise modes entail walking and jogging. You’ll burn more calories participating in a weight-bearing activity at the same intensity level. A 155 pound person digests 176 calories walking at a pace of 2 miles per hour. The same person will burn 422 calories by walking at a 3.5 miles per hour pace. Jogging for about an hour helps burn 493 calories. Plus, engaging in weight-bearing exercise helps prevent osteoporosis and preserve bone mass. On the other hand, cycling at a pace of 10 miles per hour helps you slash 281 calories. The advantage of doing this workout is that it imposes less stress on your joints and muscles and reduces your heart rate, allowing you to exercise a bit longer.
Walking vs. Running
You require no special skill to run or walk. Brisk walking can make a big difference to your overall health. However, it cannot be denied that you’ll be able to burn calories at a faster rate by running than by walking due to increased intensity of the activity. However, it’s important to keep in mind that running maximizes the chances of injury to the knees, ankles, back and feet. Though carrying hand-held weights while walking with the aim of expending more calories seems like a smart idea, research discloses that the equipment does not push your energy expenditure up enough.
Selecting the Exercise Mode
Though research proposes that weight-bearing aerobic exercise when performed at preferred intensity exercise will result in a high level of energy expenditure, other considerations has to be taken into account for choosing an exercise mode. With the accessibility of a variety of aerobic exercise equipment, you may prefer to cross-train on a variety of exercise modes that do not strain your musculoskeletal system (bones and muscles responsible for body movements) and allow you to enjoy exercise.