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10 Surprising Ways to Burn Calories throughout the Day

What I missed most when I moved to the suburbs was the walking. Sure, it wasn’t fun when I lived in the city and had to push a double stroller during a rainstorm or carry heavy grocery bags home. But, even on days when I couldn’t make it to the gym, I got a ton of exercise. I regularly reached 16,000 steps on my FitBit without even trying.

Now, I reside in a completely suburban neighborhood, sans sidewalks, and nowhere worth walking to for miles. My kids ride school buses and I drive them to every playdate.

Within a month of moving here, I googled “Does Living in the Suburbs Make You Gain Weight?” and was amazed at how many search results came up.

In my 40’s, I have to work twice as hard as my city-living days to stay fit.

It got me wondering . . .

How many calories do we burn doing everyday activities?

Note: Calories below are an approximation, based on a 130-150 pound individual.

1. How many calories can you burn doing laundry?

Like you, I do loads of laundry. Usually, I stand and watch a show on my phone or listen to a podcast while sorting and folding laundry.

unfolded laundry

55 calories per each load of laundry

On average, it takes me 30 minutes to fold, which burns about 30 calories. It takes me about another 10-minutes to put the clean clothes away, for an extra 20 calories. Plus, walking up the stairs and back down burns another 5 calories. This doesn’t sound like very much, at .17 calories for every step. Considering I do that I go up and down my stairs 10 to 20 times per day, it adds up.

2. How many calories can you burn playing with the kids?

300 calories for an hour-long soccer game

Join your kids in a soccer game. A 130-pound person burns 5.9 calories per minute casually kicking a soccer ball around. I tested this on my Apple Watch using the and it was nearly spot on. After 12 minutes, I burned 63 calories and my heart rate was definitely elevated in a good way.

kid kicking soccer ball

100 calories swinging for half an hour

The next time your daughter asks you to swing on the swing set, say yes. After 5-minutes of swinging, which felt like much more, I burned 16 calories. My daughter can swing for an hour without taking a break.

woman on swing

A 5-minute game of tag burns 44 calories!

3. How many calories can you burn taking out the trash?

50 calories per half hour of sorting & carrying recyclables

Our garbage gets picked up twice per week. I’m sure I don’t burn that many calories simply by carrying it to the curb. But recycling day is another story. Every other week, I sort through my plastics, commingled, and paper items. I need a better system but the good news is I burn 105 calories per hour and it takes me at least 30-minutes.

4. How many calories can you burn grocery shopping?

150 calories per shopping trip

Grocery shopping, running errands, and making returns all involve me sprinting around, trying to get as much done in a relatively short period of time. And then, I have to test my patience standing in line.

couple pushing groceries

An average person burns approximately 1.5 calories for every minute she stands. Assuming I stand in line for ten minutes, I’ll burn off about 15 calories. If I shop for 30 minutes, pushing a cart, I burn about 120 calories. Once home, putting away the groceries for fifteen minutes adds about 22 calories. All in all, not bad, as I’ve burned more than 150 calories.

5. How many calories can you burn pushing a stroller?

150 calories per hour-long stroller walk

woman pushing stroller

My baby days are behind me but pushing a stroller was quite the workout, especially when the second one came along and we needed a double stroller.

Few of my friends put on the same amount of pregnancy weight for the second baby and I think the fact that we walked everywhere had something to do with it.

Pushing a stroller burns close to 150 calories per hour. City moms walk much more than this on any given day. If you live in the burbs, make this a regular part of your routine.

6. How many calories can you burn carrying a small child?

100 calories per half hour

woman carrying child

Oh, I remember those days. Your child doesn’t want to walk but doesn’t want to sit in the stroller either.

I’ve even used to carry one child while pushing the other in the stroller (see above).

In 31-minutes, you’ll burn 100 calories.

Don’t have a small child anymore? Carry a heavy bag. Imagine all the calories you burn lugging your gear to the beach.

7. How many calories can you burn walking your dog?

205 calories per hour

woman walking dog

I walk two miles every day with my dogs in my neighborhood, which takes 35-minutes. I typically burn about 120 calories. How do I know? I track my walks on my Apple Watch, again using the FitIV Pulse app.

Bonus calories if you decide to bathe your dog afterward. Giving him a 10-minute bath burns 38 calories, even more for a squirmy pup like mine.

8. How many calories can you burn laughing?

10 to 40 calories per long laughing session

woman laughing

Put on a funny movie. Better yet, spend time with friends that make you laugh the most.

Just 10 to 15-minutes of laughing can burn between 10 and 40 calories, the more intense the laugh, the better. Check out some of my favorite shows to binge-watch with your girlfriends. Or choose one of these fun board games to play with your spouse or friends.

9. How many calories can you burn sleeping?

300 calories for a good night’s sleep

Yes, sleeping. Again, this depends largely on weight and muscle mass, but I burn 38 calories per hour sleeping! I’ll take it. That’s close to 300 calories for a good night of sleep. There are even studies linking lack of sleep to excess belly fat.

10. How many calories can you burn cleaning your house? 

At least 200 calories depending on the mess

woman vacuuming

You know the feeling, company is coming and your house is a disaster. Or, your cleaning lady is coming and you need to do a major tidy-up before she gets to you, or she’ll never clean there again.

Loading the dishwasher for half an hour burns 105 calories. I do at least two loads per day, which takes that long.

Making the bed burns 130 calories per half hour.

Oh, and when you start yelling because no one in your family offers to help you, well, that’ll burn up to 16 calories per hour.

Doing general housework, you burn about 165 calories per hour. Remember, that the next time you’re running around like a madwoman, going up and down the stairs, carrying things, and bending.

To find out more, check out this calorie burn calculator from Map My Walk.

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calories without exercise

As always, I love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

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Friday 26th of May 2023

When I do laundry, I jog in place rather than standing to burn more calories.


Friday 14th of July 2023

That's smart. Since I wrote this post, I started multitasking even more and now take a lot of my Zoom calls on my treadmill. Bought an inexpensive desk attachment. Makes me feel so productive.

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