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What's the best workout to burn holiday calories?

TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen set out to find the best workout to burn off those holiday pounds.
/ Source: TODAY

After ringing in the new year with pizza, wings and dip, you may be sitting at home thinking about the best way to lose those holiday pounds.

Should you spend the money to join a gym, attend a spin class or just go outside for a run?

TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen recruited Alysha Palumbo, a reporter for NBC's new station in Boston, to try three popular workouts to see what works best when it comes to burning calories.

Palumbo, a mother of two who just had her second child six months ago, said she is looking to lose that last 10 or 15 pounds.

The Rossen team brought in Dr. Tom Gill from Boston Sports Medicine, who put a heart rate monitor on Palumbo that also counts calories burned. Palumbo wore the monitor while performing 45 minutes of three different exercises on different days, starting with a morning jog.

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"Jogging is going to be a way for a slow, fat burn but if you're really trying to get a big calorie burn, you want to add in a little interval training as well to really get your heart rate up high,'' Gill said.

Alysha Palumbo tries out three workouts to find out which burns the most calories.
Alysha Palumbo tries out three workouts to find out which burns the most calories.TODAY

Palumbo burned 394 calories during her 45-minute run, and it didn't cost her a dollar. Next up was a spin class at Boston Sports Club, an intense workout that got Palumbo's heart rate up.

"Her heart rate is up about 170, which is high,'' Gill observed. "To get your max heart rate, it's 220 minus your age, so for her, that's about 184. She's really working hard."

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After 45 minutes, Palumbo burned 424 calories.

"That's a lot of calories just for riding a bike,'' she said.

For the final test, Palumbo gutted out a tough workout with a personal trainer.

"A lot of people think it's just about lifting weights, but you can turn it into a great cardio workout just by diminishing the amount of time you spend resting in between each one,'' Gill said.


The final tally for her workout with the trainer was 448 calories burned.

"I believe it,'' Palumbo said. "That was the hardest workout by far."

In the end, the three workouts all came close, with jogging (394); spinning (424) and personal training (448) all within 54 calories burned of one another. Doctors say it doesn't matter which one you choose, as long as you are doing something — and not sitting on the sofa.

To suggest a topic for an upcoming investigation, visit the Rossen Reports Facebook page.