Burn, baby, burn: Torch calories with these everyday activities

Find out how many calories you can burn by reading, cleaning and more.
Find out how many calories certain everyday activities can help you burn.
Find out how many calories certain everyday activities can help you burn. [ MONKEYBUSINESSIMAGES | Getty Images/iStockphoto ]
Published April 7

By Erin Feitsma, Times Total Media Correspondent

Feel the burn! Whether you love swimming laps, walking fast or pumping iron in the gym, we can all agree that it’s important to get moving. And, according to the Mayo Clinic, the more active you are, the more calories you burn. Here, we detail how many calories certain everyday activities can help you burn, based on a half-hour of activity. Please keep in mind, the number of calories listed here have been calculated using the weight of the average American man and woman. All caloric calculations are approximate and should be used only as a guideline. The number of calories you burn per activity will vary depending on your individual metrics.

Playing with kids

There’s a reason why you may feel tired after chasing your kids or grandkids around the park or your backyard. Yep, you guessed it: You’re burning calories! Thirty minutes of running around with the kiddos playing games like tag, soccer or football will torch 195 calories for the average Amercian woman, and 225 for the average American man. Hut, hut, hike!

Walking the dog

Pet people, Fido and Spot may be able to help you get healthy. Taking your doggo (or cat … or ferret, we don’t judge) for a 30-minute walk or light run can burn 126 calories for the average man and 109 for the average woman. Missed the walk today? You can still get some exercise in. A half-hour of sitting while playing with your pet will burn 98 calories for women and 113 calories for men.


Dance, dance! The benefits of dancing are numerous (see the article “I hope you dance: Discover the health benefits of dancing” in this publication for more info), plus it’s just a lot of fun. Thirty minutes of dancing will burn 203 calories for men, and 176 for women. Different types of dancing can affect how many calories you’ll burn – for example, if you’re doing the samba, you’ll burn 135 calories over a 30-minute period if you’re a man, or 117 if you’re a woman. Fancy an Irish step dance? Who doesn’t? Men torch 203 calories and women burn 176 calories after a 30-minute Irish step dancing session. As The Beach Boys once sang, “I gotta dance!”


There may finally be a justification for your love of shopping: You can burn calories in the process, giving new meaning to “shop till you drop.” Thirty minutes of shopping will burn 90 calories for the average American woman and 103 for the average American man. (Sorry, online shoppers, these totals only count for in-person shopping sessions.) Grocery shopping, sans cart, will beef up that total a bit: Men will burn 158 calories doing this activity, while women will burn 137.


Serial cleaners, it turns out that 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there of cleaning and picking up around the house can be an excellent way to shred those calories. Men burn 135 calories per 30 minutes of cleaning, while women burn 117. Vacuuming? For every 30 minutes of vacuuming you do, you’ll burn 137 calories (for women) or 158 (for men). Thirty minutes of light dusting around the house will burn 113 calories for men and 98 for women. Another calorie bites the dust!


Yes, you read that right: Reading can burn calories. In fact, it’s likely you’re burning calories reading this right now. (You can thank us later.) The average American woman will burn 51 calories while sitting and reading for 30 minutes, while that total comes to 59 calories for men. If you like to read while standing, you’re in luck: Not only will you enjoy a good read, but you’ll burn more calories, with men burning 81 calories after 30 minutes of standing and reading, and women burning 70. The more you know!

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