Nutrition | Calculation of Extra Calories Burned by Exercising

Every activity, even the smallest one, requires energy - working, studying or even sitting down burns calories. A Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) is the ratio of energy expended during an activity to energy expended at rest. For example, 1 MET is the rate of energy expenditure while at rest. MET values differ depending on the activity performed. Below you will find a table with MET values for the most popular types of activities.

Activity Level



Very Light


standing, reading, sitting, studying



walking at a slow pace (1-2 mi/hr), playing musical instrument,
light gardening, light office work, shopping

Moderately Vigorous


walking at a brisk pace (1 mi every 20 min), weight lifting,
water aerobics, climbing stairs, gardening, golf



ice or roller skating, rowing, canoeing, squash, running


To estimate how many kcals you burned during a particular activity, we use the following equation:

activity level (MET) x duration x weight = total kcal burned

As an example, water aerobics has a MET value of 10. If you performed this activity for one hour and you weigh 70kg, it will be calculated this way:

10 x 1 x 70 = 700 kcal

However, as shown in the table above, even activities such as standing, reading or laying down burns calories. Therefore, if that one hour was spent sitting on the couch instead of doing aerobics, a certain amount of kcal would still be burned. At Virtuagym, we calculate how much extra was burned during your workout, as compared to time spent resting (Physical Activity Level (PAL) value in free time - see this article to find out your PAL). We use the following formula:

total kcal burned - (your activity level (PAL in free time) x duration x weight) = kcal really burned

In this case, the total kcal burned: 700, activity level: 1.5, duration: one hour and weight: 70 kg. Therefore:

700 - (1.5 x 1 x 70) = 700 - 105 = 595 kcal

One hour of water aerobics for this particular person burned 595 kcal. This value would differ depending on the time the exercise was performed for as well as the weight of the person.

As workouts are not included in your activity level while creating a Nutrition Plan (see this article to learn how to create your Nutrition Plan), the extra amount of kcals burned by exercising is then added to your daily kcal allowance to ensure you do not consume too much or not enough. This equation ensures that the recommended number of kcal to be consumed that day is correct.

The number of kcal burned extra with exercise for each day can be found in the top right corner of your ‘Nutrition Diary.’


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