The Calorie-Burning Myth

The very common notion that doing a certain activity (sport, exercise) for a set period of time will ‘burn’ (a colloquial term) a specific number of calories is, to put it politely, unscientific. Or to put it bluntly, stupid. When some expert tells you that activity Y burns X calories per unit of time, ignore them. Their calorie theory is like suggesting that every vehicle in Australia (cars, motorbikes, trucks, vans, buses) would use the same amount petrol travelling from Melbourne to Perth.

Calorie burning (energy expenditure) can differ greatly for the same activity (let’s use walking as an example) depending on a broad range of variables, including things like body-weight, gradient (flat, decline or incline), walking speed, stride length, walking surface (sand, dirt, concrete, grass), temperature, biomechanical efficiency and much more. For example, the 50kg woman who walks 5kms at a 5kph pace around suburbia might expend less than half the energy when compared to the 105kg muscle-bound dude who walks the same distance at 6kph in soft sand.

However, if she decided to carry the dude… 😉

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