20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn

A rear view of young couple working out in the living room while watching an exercise class.
Staying active during the day helps burn calories. Morsa Images / Getty Images

The simple truth of weight loss, no matter what the latest trendy diet says, is that you have to use more calories than you consume. The good news is that you don't have to spend all your waking hours at the gym attached to some complicated, beeping hunk of metal because everything you do burns calories. Check out the following activities and the number of calories they burn. (Note: Calories are based on a 150-pound person. A heavier person will burn more calories.)

1. Shop till you drop

Pushing a cart up and down the supermarket aisles for an hour will burn 243 calories and you'll get acquainted with all kinds of nutritious, healthful foods. Bag your own groceries, take them out to the car yourself, and return the cart to the corral, and you'll burn even more.


2. Open up

Most dentists recommend that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes. In that time, you'll burn a whopping 5.7 calories, but then again, not everything is about weight loss.

3. Make it shine

Do your tables, shelves, and knickknacks fail the white-glove test? Burn 80 calories by dusting the surfaces in your home for 30 minutes and you'll be ready the next time a drill sergeant stops by for an inspection.

4. Pucker power

It may not burn as many calories as dusting, but 30 minutes of kissing is a lot more fun. You'll burn 36 calories and probably miss a bad sitcom.

5. Wrinkle-free weight loss

Burn 76.5 calories with 30 minutes of ironing; just be careful that you don't burn the clothes.

6. Paint thinner

You know you need to paint the house, but you're lacking the motivation. Does it help to know that three hours of house painting will burn 1,026 calories? And by putting on that second coat, you might drop a whole pants size.

7. Sock it to me

You can now look forward to laundry day because 30 minutes of folding clothes will burn 72 calories. Fold enough clothes and you may soon be putting away smaller sizes.

8. Pick up trash and drop pounds

Pick up some waste and reduce your waist by spending an afternoon cleaning up the neighborhood. In four hard-worked hours, you'll burn 1,800 calories and improve your community.

On the next page you will find 12 more everyday calorie-burning activities.


20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, 9-20

On this page, you will learn the calorie-burning benefits of mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, and more...

9. Hit the deck

Don't cry over spilled milk or anything else, especially when 30 minutes of mopping the floor will burn 153 calories.


10. Fire the lawn boy

One hour of pushing the lawn mower around the yard burns 324 calories. Sorry, sitting on a riding mower doesn't count. Lose the bag attachment and spend another 30 minutes raking up the clippings and you'll burn another 171 calories.

11. How about Texas Lose 'Em?

Three hours of playing cards burns 351 calories. Ante up and go all in, but don't load up on high-calorie chips and dip.

12. Work up an appetite

You'll burn 74 calories during the 30 minutes you spend preparing dinner. Of course, that work will be voided by high-calorie, fat-filled meals. Instead, choose healthful meals that contain plenty of fruits and vegetables.

13. Get moving

Offer to help your pals move. What's in it for you? Every hour of moving furniture burns 504 calories.

14. Flake out

Those of you who live in warm climates have no idea what a great workout you're missing. Thirty minutes of shoveling snow burns 202.5 calories.

15. A lean sweep

Moving a broom back and forth for ten minutes will burn 28 calories and you'll have a prop that can be anything from a microphone stand to a dance partner.

16. Suck it up

You know the rug needs it, but you may not know that 20 minutes of vacuuming will burn 56 calories.

17. Suds it up

Break out the bucket and hose -- a mere 20 minutes of washing the car will burn 102 calories.

18. Count calories instead of sheep

Even when you're sleeping you're burning calories. Eight hours of good shut-eye will erase 360 calories.

19. Dig the benefits

Two hours of gardening will burn 648+calories, and you'll grow some nice healthful veggies at the same time.

20. Click to fit?

Even watching TV is worth something. One hour spent in front of the tube burns 72 calories. Of course, if you dusted at the same time...


Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen