Calorie Burning & Exercise

Many people use cardiovascular exercise equipment to burn calories. A question they often have is “What type of exercise equipment burns the most calories?”

Infomercials and ads for exercise machines make claims of exceptional calorie burning. Are these claims all true?

At rest the body uses energy to maintain the functions of all body cells. Energy demanding functions form the basal metabolic rate, which varies from person to person, roughly 800 to 1500 calories daily. Exercise adds to the energy the body uses. Research conducted in the past 10 years demonstrates that exercise increases in caloric expenditure is mostly from the contraction of skeletal muscle (body movements of the arms or legs).

The body uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide during calorie consumption. Most of the nutrient sources for movement are from carbohydrate and fat. The amount of carbohydrate and fat used during energy metabolism can be measured from the respiratory exchange ratio of carbon dioxide to oxygen consumption. The best measure of a change in metabolism during exercise is oxygen consumption. This can be determined by a formula based on the heart rate during exercise.

To burn more calories during exercise, a person must increase the oxygen consumption. Many exercise machines are sold on the basis that they will burn more calories than other kinds of equipment. When different types of equipment is tested keeping the heart rate at the same intensity on each piece of equipment, the results are somewhat different than many equipment manufacturers would have you believe.

In comparisons of equipment using 1) upper body only, 2) lower body only, and 3) upper and lower body combined, the lower body only equipment produces a higher oxygen consumption, therefore a greater calorie expenditure, than the upper and lower combined equipment and the upper body only equipment.

With upper and lower body combined exercise, blood cannot be pumped fast enough to adequately spread through both the lower and upper body muscles. The smaller muscle mass in the upper body causes a slower return flow of blood to the heart than large muscles do, and upper body exercise increases blood pressure because of greater resistance to blood flow. The result is that maximal oxygen consumption is somewhat lower for combined upper and lower body combined exercise than for lower body exercise alone.

The key to a lifetime of health and fitness benefits from regular cardiovascular exercise is to find activities that are enjoyable and will be done on a regular basis.




Fat cells. Millions of them make up your body fat. Each fat cell is a spherical sac filled with a droplet of oil. The size of your fat cells is relative to the balance of calorie intake and output. (What you eat vs. your activity level)

A high fat diet supplies fat cells with what is needed to grow bigger. Fat molecules are absorbed from the blood stream and stored in fat cells.

To reduce the amount of fat stored in the fat cells, it must be released into the blood and used as fuel. Regular exercise and a moderate to low fat diet help to trigger the release of stored fat. Regular exercise stimulates fat metabolism and teaches your body how to be an efficient fat burner rather than a fat storer.



Cellulite has no cure. Cellulite is made up of individual pockets of fat cells separated by fibrous bands. Exercise can help graw a little fat out of each posket, but cellulite will not melt away as promised by the advertisements for creams, rollers, and other gadgets.



  1. Increase cardiorespiratory fitness
  2. Increase the amount of active muscle mass
  3. Prolong the duration of cardiovascular exercise
  4. Exercise at a heart rate intensity that is challenging but maintainable
  5. There are genetic factors that determine the fuel utilization during exercise (choose your parents wisely!)
  6. Older exercisers may need to work at a lower intensity and prolong the duration to maximize calorie consumption.



One of the main activities that can be seen at any gym or health club is people doing countless amounts of sit-ups and crunches. They believe this will give them the “model look” washboard abs, they have all taken this myth as the truth, the myth that these exercises will give them this look. The reason a person does not have “shredded” abs, or a “six-pack” is because of the fat covering those muscles (oh yes, they are there, everyone has them) and sit-ups do not burn fat, they work the muscle. Often working out these muscles to extremes causes the stomach to look even bigger. The best way to stay lean and get rid of the fat layer covering your beautiful abs is to get plenty of fat burning cardiovascular exercise and eat slightly less calories than you actually use.

So, if diet and fat burning exercise is the key to showing off the “six-pack”, why should we develop our abdominal muscles, some may ask. The answer is function. Without developing these muscles your whole body can be weakened. They are a very important part of doing any movement with your body. Without them, you would not even be able to stand up! In the end, everyone wants to have well developed abs they can show off. So, work out the muscles, eat a lean, low fat diet, and get out there and make yourself sweat.

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