What exercise burns the most calories?

Whether you ask your doctor, your gym buddy or even your next door neighbour, we’re often told that the best way to burn calories is by doing regular exercise. But which form of exercise burns the most calories? To figure this out we’re going to look at a few popular forms of exercise and compare how many calories you can hope to burn by doing an hour of each.

How to track calories during exercise


Running is considered by many as being one of the best exercises for burning through calories quickly, although the exact amount that you can burn will depend on a few things such as running intensity (speed and incline) and your own age and bodyweight. On average though running for one hour at 6mph can burn as much as 600-700 calories.

Read more about the amount of calories you can burn over these popular running distances:

Calories burnt running a 5K
Calories burnt running a 10K
Calories burnt running a half marathon
Calories burnt running a marathon


Swimming is another great aerobic exercise that is great for burning calories, and also puts a lot less strain and impact on your joints. As is the case with running, the amount of calories you will burn from swimming will depend on the intensity or stroke you are doing and also your bodyweight. To give you an approximate idea of the calories burnt whilst swimming, on average you can burn between 300-560 calories an hour whilst swimming breast stroke, whereas a more vigorous butterfly stroke could burn up to 700 calories per hour. Read more about the amount of calories burn through swimming here.


Another great cardio workout, cycling doesn’t burn quite as many calories as running but it’s also much gentler on your joints! On average an hour of cycling burns around 400 calories, although you could increase this by cycling on uphill trails and increasing your speed. Learn more about the amount of calories you can burn through cycling here


Walking is the exercise on our list that will burn the fewest calories per hour, however you’re likely to be able to sustain walking for much longer periods of time than more intense workouts. Essentially, with walking you can still benefit from a good calorie burn, it’ll just take longer! An hour of walking will burn around 300 calories on average, but you can find about calculating your walking calorie burn in this blog post.

How do I know how many calories I am burning?

As we mentioned earlier, the number of calories someone can burn through different exercises will differ depending on factors such as age, weight and fitness level. One of the easiest ways to measure your calorie burn is by using a fitness tracker that will be able to monitor your heart rate during activity and more accurately calculate the calories you are burning. Alternatively you could use an online calculator such as this one to calculate your calorie burn.