Fitness Articles

Burn Off Holiday Calories!

25 Ideas, No Gym Time Required

Ah, the holidays are officially here!

And as much as we look forward to them, and all that comes with them (the friends, the family, and of course, the food!) it’s hard to escape the stress that they also bring.

"Exercise routine? Heh. Healthy eating? Forget about it." Sound like you?

Between the cooking, cleaning, traveling, decorating, shopping, and entertaining, how can you fit in your normal exercise routine? Or even a shorter exercise routine?

Well, if you’re like most "normal" Americans, you’ve probably bitten off more than you can chew when it comes to responsibilities. So, here’s a list of common holiday activities and the number of calories they burn. Realistically, you can keep your caloric intake in check (by keeping portions small and making healthier recipe substitutions), and by adding up these common activities—like cooking and cleaning—you can still burn a hefty sum of calories without setting foot in the gym.

(Based on a 40-year-old 5’5", 140-pound woman. Men, and women weighing over 140 pounds will burn more calories during the same activities.)
  • Bathing dog (to look and smell pretty for guests!): 15 minutes = 56 calories
  • Wrapping gifts or making crafts (hello party favors): 30 minutes = 48
  • Bagging grass & leaves: 30 minutes = 127 calories
  • Light baking (of all your favorite treats): 1 hour = 159 calories
  • Tending bar for guests (not drinking it yourself!): 1 hour = 146 calories
  • Changing bed linens (for the out-of-towners): 15 minutes = 40 calories
  • Loading & Unloading the car (suitcases, groceries, kids): 10 minutes = 32 calories
  • Carrying groceries: 5 minutes = 13 calories
  • Taking out Trash: 2 minutes = 5 calories
  • Carrying wood or lumber (Marshmallows not included): 5 minutes = 26 calories
  • General to Heavy house cleaning: 1 hour = 191 calories
  • Clearing dishes from the table: 5 minutes = 13 calories
  • Washing dishes by hand: 15 minutes = 37 calories
  • Dusting: 15 minutes = 40 calories
  • Family Reunion (includes sitting, talking and eating…not fighting): 1 hour = 95 calories
  • Food preparation: 1 hour = 195 calories
  • Flag Football (fun for the whole family): 1 hour = 508 calories
  • Putting away groceries: 5 minutes = 13 calories
  • Quick nature hike after dinner: 15 minutes = 95 calories
  • Light jogging (to get away from scary relatives): 15 minutes = 127 calories
  • Mowing lawn (pushing power mower): 20 minutes = 95 calories
  • Mopping floors: 15 minutes = 56 calories
  • Playing catch (baseball or football): 30 minutes = 79 calories
  • Raking lawn: 30 minutes = 137 calories
  • Grocery shopping (with cart): 30 minutes = 73 calories
  • Grocery shopping (with basket): 30 minutes = 79 calories
  • Socializing while standing: 1 hour = 127 calories
So, if you’re finding it impossible to get to the gym, try something new this year…like NOT avoiding the extra holiday chores. Your partner and/or host will be happy, and so will you for keeping your waistline in check.

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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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