How many calories do you burn each day?

lady-fitness2The calories our bodies obtain from food are either stored as fat or burned for energy. The more physically active a person is, the more calories he or she will use. You can expect to use far more calories running a marathon than if you watched a marathon on TV while stretched out on the couch. This project will help students to understand the relationship between calories and physical activity.


Working individually, students will record their physically activitieslady-fitness througout the day for a seven-day period. They will tally their daily caloric expenditures and find their average caloric expenditures. They will summarize their result in a written report.

Math Skill to Highlight

  1. Collecting and organizing data
  2. Using estimation and decimal computation
  3. Calculating with units of time
  4. Finding the mean
  5. Using writing and math as a way to share ideas
  6. Using technology in problem solving

Special Materials / Equipment

Reference books that contain the numbers of calories used during specific physical activities; calculators. Optional: A scale for students to weigh themselves; computers for Internet access for research.


Consider working with your students’ physical education teacher for this project. They will undoubtedly be able to offer advice, suggestions, and information. Before beginning the project, explain to your students that our bodies use calories for energy. Excess calories are stored as fat.

Situation / Problem

lady-runPhysical activity burns calories. But do you know how many calories you burn each day? This project will help you to find out. You will keep track of your activities for seven days. Based on the time you spend in each activity, you will calculate the total number of calories you used for the activity. You will then find the total number of calories you expended each day.

Possible Strategy

  1. Use a chart to record the activities you perform each day.
  2. Be as accurate as you can in recording activities and times.

Special Considerations

  • Record every activity you do from the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to sleep. Also be sure to record your sleep time.


  • lady-2-fitnessAlong with each activities, record the length of time you were involved with it. Convert times to decimal equivalent based on 1 hour. For example, a half-hour would be 0.5, and 15 minutes would be 0.25.
  • Try to record activities as you do them. If this is impossible, at the end of the day. review all the things you did and write them down on your chart. It is important to record each activity.
  • Use Data Sheet to find values for caloric expenditures. For the activities not on this sheet, consult reference books or on-line sources. Even then, you may need to estimate some activities. Below are various activities and estimates of the amount of calories you would burn each hour for each pound you weigh while taking part in an activity. You can find an estimate of your caloric expenditure by using this formula:

Your weight X calories per hour per pound X time = Total calories

  • foodSuppose you weigh 120 pounds and mow the lawn for an hour and a half. You would multiply 120 X 2.7 X 1.5, which equals 486 calories. By mowing the lawn for an hour and a half, you would have used 486 calories, roughly equal to that hamburger and French fries you gulped down for dinner. In the following list, the number following the activity is the calories per hour per pound you would burn during the activity.basket
  • biker
  • calories-projects-2
  • If you must estimate the calories used during some activities, select similar activities, and base your estimations on them.
  • To use the formula above, you will need to know your weight. If you are not sure and do not have access to a scale, use an estimate.
  • Use a calculator t find the total number of calories used during specific activities.
  • Total all the calories spent on all the activities for each ¬†day.
  • Analyze your results and consider the following questions:
  1. Are you more active during the week or on weekends?
  2. What activities do you expend the most calories on? The least?
  3. Do you think your average caloric expenditure will be  about the same throughout the year, or do you think it will vary? Explain your answer.
  4. Did your result surprise you in any way? Explain.
  • Write a report summarizing your findings. Be sure to write clearly, use an opening, a body with supporting details, and a conclusions.

To Be Submitted

  • Chart of physical activities and caloric expenditure
  • Summary report


jess-rabbittSource: Hands-On Math Projects with Real-Life Applications by Judith A.Muscha and Gary R.Muscha