How much exercise do you need to burn off unhealthy fast food choices?

By Joyce Reyes-Aguila | Photos by Jessica Henderson, Alexandra Gorn, and Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash

Ask yourself: If you knew how many steps it would take to burn the calories of each meal, would you still eat as much?

In 2000, a Japanese research team published a study that revealed walking 10,000 steps a day helps reduce blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity in hypertensive patients. Further research linked the habit to “reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, better psychological well-being, weight loss, and improved body composition.”

These findings, along with the introduction of activity trackers capable of counting steps an individual takes a day, have made some to consider that 10,000 steps every 24 hours is the benchmark to a healthy life, based on Heid’s piece, “You Asked: How Many Steps Should I Take a Day?”

He also reveals that more recent studies are proposing somewhere between 15,500 to 17,000 steps daily as goals towards a healthier lifestyle.

Any doctor or nutritionist will agree that an increase in movement or physical activity benefits the body. For one, without even entering a fitness center, individuals who walk more or take the stairs rather than the elevator are burning more calories. They get to burn the muffin they had for breakfast or the extra whipped cream they placed on their drink more than those who are tied to their seats all day (by choice).

Here are some of our favorite indulgences and the number of steps it will take to get rid of them, say the experts. Hopefully, this inspires you to stand up more often at the office or elect to walk to the bank for an errand instead of hailing a cab or ride to take you there.



According to, donuts contain around 175 to 550 calories per serving. If your favorite kind is covered in sugar or glaze, it has 195 calories. You will need a 30-minute exercise to get rid of the calories from a single donut.

Writer Heather Topham Wood cites a Harvard Health Publications study disclosing that a person weighing 150 pounds will burn 205 calories after a 30-minute session of low-impact aerobics. Wood writes that a person’s current weight and the intensity level of his or her workout affects how quickly an individual burns calories. For example, a person who weighs 155 pounds will burn 446 calories per hour swimming laps while someone who weighs 185 pounds burns 532 calories each hour of swimming. She suggests foregoing the donut for a healthier snack or settling for half a donut or even four donut holes to lessen what you have to burn.


A 12-ounce can of soda

Particularly the one in red and white: 3,140 steps. In addition, a medium order of a caramel-blended beverage requires 9,220 steps to burn it off, while a signature “big” hamburger of a fast food chain takes 12,140 steps to process. If you’re having an entire chocolate bar for dessert, think of the 4,840 steps you will need to complete to burn it off.


A slice of pizza

If you dislike walking and prefer to move around, here are some numbers for you. It will take 22 minutes of biking at 12 to 14 miles per hour to burn a medium slice of pizza. In the article “Fast Food Facts: How Long Does It Take You To Burn Off Your Meal?,” 25 percent of people who eat fast food underestimate the calorie content of their chosen meals.

It also lists that a kiddie meal that includes a double cheeseburger, French fries, and a chocolate drink from a popular food chain contains 840 calories. To burn it all off, they’d have to participate in a frisbee match for four solid hours and three minutes. If you are having three crispy chicken strips, a three-inch corn on the cob, and a medium diet soda for lunch, you’ll need to spend three hours and five minutes of washing dishes for your body to let it go. 


French fries

Enjoy one medium order that contains 420 calories then play either 46 minutes of basketball or 123 minutes of bowling. A 63-minute uphill or 100-minute elevated walk will allow you to burn off a 430-calorie chicken sandwich. That’s surely a lot more steps than the ones you took going from your place to the store and going home again, right?

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