Opinion Column

Column: Doing the math when it comes to calories and activities

By Donna Cotnam, Daily Observer

Getty images: 
When it comes to counting calories, the math is simple, says columnist Donna Cotnam - higher output and lower input is the key to success.

Getty images: When it comes to counting calories, the math is simple, says columnist Donna Cotnam - higher output and lower input is the key to success.


I have to admit, I am not really much of a calorie counter. I do purposely try hard to make healthier choices – less fat, low sodium, all that kind of stuff. One thing I have learned over the years is a calorie is a calorie no matter the source. However what those calories carry or where they come from can be a different story. What I am about to share can be disputed somewhat, after all I did find it online. But I did research a number of different ‘calorie counting’ websites and they are all pretty much in line with what I am sharing here. Fifteen (15) potato chips have 160 calories, 170 mg sodium, 10 g fat, 340 mg potassium, 15g carbs, 2 g protein, .5 g sugar and 1g fibre, 2 mg vitamin C, 26 mg calcium and 0.7mg iron. Now compare one medium (80g) carrot – 28 Calories, 62 mg sodium. 0.1 g fat, 0 mg potassium, 6.6 g carbs, 0.5g protein, 3.8g sugar, 2.3g fibre, 6 mg vitamin C, 0 mg calcium and 0.4 mg iron. It pays to read the labels!!

I think what is more important is how you burn those calories. If you want to lose weight you need to put out more calories (energy) than you take in. So I checked out some calorie burning sites as well, just to help you along. The information below is based on a 150 pound woman and a 190 pound man, both 50 years old and performing the activity for 60 minutes. The number of calories burned for each activity indicated is female/male: biking (21 kph, moderate effort – outdoors) 461/597; stationary bike (general) 404/523; backpacking/hiking/walking with a day pack 450/582; jogging 404/523; running 8 kph 478/620; swimming laps (light or moderate effort) 548/709; basketball game 461/597; bowling 219/284; boxing (punching bag) 317/411; broomball 404/523; curling 231/299; auto racing (open wheel) 490/635; catch (football/baseball) 144/187; golf (walking pulling clubs) 306/396; horseback riding 317/411; martial arts (moderate pace) 594/769; lacrosse 461/597; racquetball 404/523; rock climbing (low to moderate) 334/433; skipping (100-120 jumps/min) 680/881; rollerblading/in-line skating 565/732; soccer (casual) 404/523; softball/slo-pitch 288/373; tennis 421/545; volleyball (non-comp six to nine players) 173/224; elliptical trainer (moderate effort) 288/373; resistance training (moderate) 288/373; aerobic type class 450/582; rowing (100 watts – moderate) 404/523; kayaking 340/431.

Keep in mind that there are many variables with these numbers, so please remember they are more of a guideline. You can go all tech on me now and get out your fit-bit and determine how many calories you are taking in everyday and how many you are burning just texting. The important thing to remember is ‘output higher…input lower’– it's simple math.

If there is any specific fitness-related questions you would like addressed please email them to fitmom@hotmail.com

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