The human body burns calories every minute of the day. Energy is used to lift a finger, blink an eye lid, or stand up or sit down. That energy comes from the food we eat. Every bit of physical activity increases the amount of calories used by the body. People gain weight when they eat more calories than their body burns during a typical day.

So what would happen if a person stayed in bed all day and did absolutely nothing? How many calories would their body burn? The answer lies in something called the Basal Metabolic Rate, also known as BMR.

BMR is the amount of calories needed to keep the body functioning while at rest. BMR is a scientific formula that is calculated using a person’s height, weight, age, and gender. Several health organizations have online calculators for determining BMR. Here are links to a few of them.

Note: There are a couple different formulas for determining BMR. Results may vary depending on which formula is used by the various websites.

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Basal Metabolic Rates change with age. As people get older their BMR generally slows down. That means that the older people get, the easier it is for them to gain weight. Their bodies simply aren’t burning as many calories when at rest.

Dieting can also reduce BMRs. Simply cutting back on the amount of food a person eats won’t necessarily result in lasting weight loss. Health experts say the best way to increase BMR is with regular cardiovascular exercise.

For more information about attaining a healthy weight through diet and activity, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage on Healthy Weight.

Know Your Numbers

This information is provided by Health Fair 11 as part of its Know Your Numbers campaign. Health Fair 11 is a non-profit organization that operates with the support of KARE 11 TV and UCare. Learn more at