### How to scientifically calculate the number of calories you burn doing any physical activity

Throughout the day, everything we do burns calories, ScienceAlert reports.
Some things – like sitting – keep us at our resting rate. Vigorous activity can burn more than 10 times as much energy.

And while calorie-counting isn't necessarily the best way to lose weight, it can be useful or just plain fun to know whether that post-work soccer game is enough to burn off the doughnuts your co-worker brought in this morning.

Fortunately, there's a science-backed way to calculate how many calories you burn doing almost anything. Sure, there are apps out there that will help you calculate how many calories you burn on your run or your bike ride, but this goes deeper than that.

Want to know how many calories you burn backpacking, milking a cow (manually), cleaning a church, or engaging in an hour of vigorous sex? There's data that will help you calculate that – along with calories burned while engaging in all kinds of different sports.

Researchers have assessed the amount of energy required to engage in all kinds of activities over the years. In order to make it easier for other scientists to conduct large scale studies, researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Arizona State University have compiled updated versions of that data on a website, the Compendium of Physical Activities.

And anyone can go to that website, look up an activity, and calculate how many calories they will burn doing something. It just takes some simple maths.

Here's how it works

This calculation relies on a key value known as a MET, which stands for metabolic equivalent. One MET is "roughly equivalent to the energy cost of sitting quietly," according to the Compendium, and can be considered 1 kcal/kg/hour. Since sitting quietly is one MET, a 70 kg person would burn 70 calories (kcal) if they sat quietly for an hour.

If an activity's MET value was two, that same person would burn 140 calories in an hour.

On the Compendium's website, you can look up a huge number of activities. The Business Insider team has included calorie counts for some of the most popular activities in another article, but if you want to make the calculation for yourself, here's how it works.

First, calculate your weight in kilograms – 1 kg is 2.2 lbs, but you can always type "X pounds to kg" into Google, with X being your weight, to get a number.

Second, look up your activity on the Compendium. There's a dropdown menu on the site labelled "Activity Categories". Under that menu, you'll see a long list of categories, starting with bicycling and finishing with volunteer activities. If you open up a category, you can see the activities that fall under it.

If you open up sports (category 15) you can then select an activity. There are many listings for some activities – there's a difference between boxing in a ring and boxing by hitting a punching bag, for example. Look for the MET value from the 2011 Compendium, as it's the most up to date. If the MET value is blue, there are published studies supporting that value. If it's red, it's an estimate.