Weighing the pros and cons of different calorie-burning exercises

Calorie burning exercisesCC: Alora Griffiths at Unsplash

When it comes to successful weight loss programs, finding an exercise you love is a significant battle. Research demonstrates that self-determined motivation prevents adults from committing to an exercise regime. With that in mind, it’s worth considering whether finding calorie-burning exercises you enjoy could give you the push you need.

As humans are diverse creatures, no two calorie-burning exercises will inspire motivation among everyone. Instead of trying the latest fad, consider whether one of the following options could appeal to your inner fitness-fanatic:

Swimming for weight loss

Just 30 minutes of breaststroke will result in you losing an impressive 300 to 444 calories, depending on your weight. One of the biggest pros is that exercising in water supports your joints. You can keep your heart rate up without worrying about some of the common conditions that accompany running, such as shin splints or plantar fasciitis. Another key benefit of swimming is that you use almost all your muscles, resulting in overall toning.

Unfortunately, swimming isn’t accessible to everyone. If you can’t reach a pool then it’s pretty much out of the question. Unlike most calorie-burning exercises, though, even the gentler modes such as breaststroke have a significant impact.

Kettlebells for challenging calorie-burning exercises


When it comes to calorie-burning exercises that meet the needs of busy people, kettlebell workouts always win. The American Center for Exercise estimates that you can burn around 400 calories in 20 minutes, making it ideal for a power workout. While blasting through those calories you’ll also challenge your muscles to the extent that you build decent mass.

If you’re new to kettlebell workouts, one of the biggest pitfalls is that poor form carries a significant risk of injury. When you’re blasting through high impact cardio moves while holding a weight that ranges between 2 and 24 kg, you need to watch each movement carefully. Using a personal trainer or going to a class can overcome this. Similarly, if you suffer from ongoing joint pains or have a joint injury, you may find that you can’t engage in some common kettlebell exercises. If you’re new to this type of fitness regime, always consult a professional first.

HIIT in short bursts

If the thought of executing robust cardio moves while holding a significantly sized weight isn’t appealing, consider High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) instead. Much like kettlebell workouts, this is one of the calorie-burning exercises that depends on lost of fast-paced movements that’ll knock the breath out of you. Instead of using a kettlebell, you’ll rely on your body weight. Key benefits include the ability to blast through 240 to 320 calories in 20 minutes. And, when you learn enough about HIIT you can execute your own workouts at home.

Much like kettlebells, HIIT isn’t always the best option if your joints suffer under heavy load bearing. For example, conditions such as patellofemoral syndrome could be exacerbated if you don’t receive the right guidance. Unlike kettlebells, HIIT involves a lot of jumping, making it challenging if you suffer from lower body pain.

Finally, give exercises such as Bikram yoga your consideration. In contrast to the routines above, it takes around 90 minutes to burn through 740 calories. However, it’s one of the few calorie-burning exercises that’ll leave you feeling truly relaxed and you’ll apparently experience fewer food cravings as a result.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.