Determining energy expenditure

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Professor Kjell Hausken from the University of Stavanger talks about his research on energy consumption by combining different types of exercise

In order to determine the energy consumption of different types of training, a 75-minute class at the SiS Sports Center at the University of Stavanger was analyzed. The course consisted of a warm-up, three alternating step aerobics and weightlifting parts, an aerobics part, abs and lumbar muscle training, and stretching. Step aerobics involves choreographic movement up, down, and around a step bench or platform. The weightlifting parts consist of squats, lunges, bench presses, back workouts through rowing and clean and press, triceps, biceps, deltoids, and shoulder workouts.

Participants’ heart rates were measured with heart rate monitors throughout the class. Various hypotheses were tested, such as whether the heart rate and thus the energy consumption in aerobics is higher than in weightlifting, how the energy consumption of the various parts is compared to running and the time efficiency of combining different training forms within a training class.

Assessing such hypotheses is useful for participants who select forms of exercise, trainers who design training plans and guide participants, and the fitness industry in general in determining how to promote, advertise, and facilitate different forms of exercise to achieve different goals. The usual choice for participants is whether or not to train in a sports center. When joining a sports center, you typically have the following options:

  • Choose from a variety of classes.
  • Individual training or with friends.
  • Whether cardiovascular training or weight lifting.
  • Whether you hire a personal trainer.

If you are not joining a sports center, examples of choices are usually:

  • Training indoors or outdoors.
  • Whether to buy exercise equipment.
  • Individual training or with friends.
  • Regardless of whether you are consulting experts, literature or the media for guidance on training.

The ten participants were women aged 29.8 ± 9.30 years, with a weight of 62.4 ± 8.78 kg and a height of 164.7 ± 5.72 cm. Polar E600 heart rate monitors were used to measure the participants’ heart rate. Conventional formulas for determining the energy consumption from heart rate, weight and age were used (Hausken and Tomasgaard 2010).


The analysis produced three particularly interesting results. First, the 75-minute class had a total energy expenditure of 8.56 ± 1.16 kcal.min-1, which is comparable to running at 8.05 km.h-1. Second, the three-stage aerobics parts and the aerobics part have a significantly higher energy consumption of 9.95 ± 1.27 kcal.min-1 compared to the three weightlifting parts and balance, which have an energy consumption of 8.93 ± 1, Have 20 kcal.min-1. Third, the first and second aerobics parts have an energy consumption of 10.05 ± 1.30 kcal.min-1, which is 12.1 ± 5.4% higher than for the first and second weightlifting parts, which have an energy consumption of 8, 97 ± 1.19 kcal.min-1 has. Participants’ heart rates were found to increase during each step aerobics segment and decrease at the beginning of each weightlifting segment. The participants therefore used weight lifting to recover from step aerobics and to use the time efficiently by building muscle. A complement to this finding is that weightlifting in the 0-48 hours afterwards is usually associated with more so-called afterburning of calories than aerobics, since energy must be expended for muscle regeneration, e.g. that occurs in the muscles during weightlifting.

Participants responded that they found the 75-minute course comfortable due to its variation, in addition to aspects of interval training. So we can imagine the 75-minute class in the middle of a continuum from one extreme, for example monotonous running at constant speed and heart rate, to another extreme, for example 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by a ten-second break for four minutes repeated continuously (so-called tabata exercise).

An interesting and perhaps neglected aspect of the 75-minute course is the challenging coordination involved in step aerobics. Complex choreographies train the eye-muscle reaction, which requires brain power and poses a challenge and consumes energy when the heart rate is high. Eye-muscle coordination is useful in everyday life, for example when cycling, driving a car or moving in crowded areas.

To monitor heart rate, energy expenditure, and the number of steps taken, watch-type heart rate monitors and accelerometers (usually attached to the waist) are readily available. Such devices allow any user, coach and trainer, to design and compare exercise forms to work towards a variety of goals.

A distinction is made between fitness exercises using the example of the 75-minute class and special sports training. Specialized sports training requires patience and time and includes basic training as well as targeted training to achieve specific goals. Fitness exercise involves an abundance of ingredients with a short attention span and limited time to achieve a wide variety of goals. Some examples of specialized goals are:

  • Decrease.
  • Increase aerobic capacity and endurance.
  • Build and tone muscles.
  • Recreation.
  • Improve sleep.
  • Improved physical health.

A useful more general goal is the development of human potential. Users and trainers apply their findings to design forms of exercise such as the 75-minute class that enable individuals to be successful in daily life, e.g. cleaning their house or apartment at the walking speed of their dog and shopping in crowded centers .


Hausken, K. and Tomasgaard, A. (2010). Evaluation of performance training and step aerobics in intervals. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 10 (3), pp. 279-294. Available at:

Dyrstad, SM and Hausken, K. (2013). Use the accelerometer to estimate energy expenditure using four equations over four training sessions. International Journal of Applied Sports Sciences, 25 (2), pp. 91-101. Available at:

Hausken, K. and Dyrstad, SM (2013). Heart rate, accelerometer readings, experience and assessment of the perceived exertion in Zumba, interval running, spinning and pyramid running. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 16 (6), pp. 39-50. Available from:

Dyrstad, SM and Hausken, K. (2014). Comparison of accelerometer and heart rate monitor in interval running, interval spinning and Zumba. International Journal of Applied Sports Science, 26 (2), pp. 89-98. Available at:

Hausken, K. and Dyrstad, SM (2014). Determination of the activity energy expenditure from heart rate and physiological properties. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 54 (1), pp. 124-128. Available at:

Hausken, K. and Dyrstad, SM (2016). Using heart rate monitors to evaluate energy expenditure in four types of exercise. Gazzetta Medica Italiana, 175 (3), pp. 49-58. Available at:

Hausken, K. (2017), “Comprehensive Classification and Review of Techniques and Research Program for Skating, Classic Skiing and Ski Mountaineering Techniques”, The Open Sports Sciences Journal 10, 160-178, / VOLUMEN / 10 / PAGE / 160 / FULLTEXT

Hausken, K. (2019), “Evolutions in the Physiology of Skiing, Skating and Running in the Olympics”, Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 59, 7, 1175-1194, /journals/sports-med-physische-fitness/article.php?cod=R40Y2019N07A1175.

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