Burn Calories With Leisure Activities

  • Time to read: 5 min.

Leisure activities are often only thought of as a way to relax and have fun, but they can also be surprisingly great calorie burners. From dancing to running, many leisure activities can help you stay fit and healthy while having a good time. 

Benefits Of Leisure Activities To Burn Calories

Leisure activities such as dancing, walking, swimming and gardening can help you burn calories while having fun and increase your overall health and well-being. 

Engaging in leisure activities that burn calories will also provide many other health benefits. For example, participation reduces the risk of certain diseases, improves sleep quality, and can help boost your mood and energy levels, relieving stress and leaving you feeling refreshed and energized.  

Read our guide The Truth About Weight Loss and Leisure to explore how leisure can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Outdoor Vs. Indoor Leisure Activities

Leisure activities help you stay in shape and burn calories. Outdoor activities such as cycling, running, swimming, and walking are excellent ways to burn calories, as these activities require physical exertion. An added benefit to outdoor activities is the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, which benefits your health and well-being.

Depending on your goals, leisure activities can be tailored to suit the needs of different individuals. For example, low-intensity activities such as reading a book, watching tv, gardening or walking can all be reconfigured to burn more calories. For example, if you watch tv and want to burn calories, watch tv while walking on a treadmill, or use your tv to display programs where you also stretch or move your body.

Indoor leisure activities such as yoga, pilates, and dance classes can help you tone your body and burn calories without going outside. Other low-impact yet still effective ways to burn calories include walking or cycling. Then there are the outdoor activities that can also be done indoors, such as cycling and swimming.

Ultimately, the best leisure activity for you will depend on your fitness level and goals. Make sure that you choose a leisure activity that is both enjoyable and suitable for your abilities.

Calorie Burning Activities

When choosing a leisure activity, it’s important to consider how many calories you are burning. The best leisure activities for burning calories require your body to use multiple muscles simultaneously, which can help you burn calories while improving your flexibility and muscle strength. 

Participating in low-impact leisure activities like walking or cycling can reduce the risk of joint pain and injury, making them an excellent choice for those looking to stay physically active without putting too much strain on their body.  

High intensity activities such as running and cycling will help to burn more calories in a shorter period, and activities such as swimming and playing sports such as basketball or soccer can also help you burn calories while having fun. 

However, the overall effect of any leisure activity on burning calories depends on individual factors such as age, weight, height, fitness level, and intensity of the action. 

Swimming: Swimming is a low-impact endurance activity that engages many of the body’s major muscle groups, uses high energy burning 300-600 calories burned per hour for a medium-paced swim.

Meditating: Meditating is a leisure activity that can help reduce stress and relax your body while burning around 33-80 calories per hour, depending on the type of mediation.

Cycling: Cycling can have a calorie burn rate of 500 per hour, but this varies based on the person, their cycling abilities and the ride’s intensity.

Hiking: Due to the cardio-stimulating nature of hiking and the effort required to walk uphill or through rugged terrain, hiking can have a calorie burn rate of 175-400 per hour for an average walk. 

Playing A Musical Instrument: The ability to express oneself and enjoy sounds via a musical instrument is a fulfilling activity that can burn up to 52-150 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of playing.

Dancing: Dancing requires a high level of body movement and is one of the most calorie-efficient activities, with 275 calories burned per hour for a moderate level of participation. Whether you’re taking a dance class, going out clubbing, or just dancing in your living room, the movement of your body will help you burn calories and work up a sweat. All you need is music with a good beat and some enthusiasm.

Yoga: can help strengthen your body and improve your breathing while typically burning between 110-500 calories per hour depending on the type of yoga practiced.

Woodworking: Whether chopping logs for the fireplace or building furniture from scratch, each task requires physical exertion, with the bonus of creating something beautiful. On average, woodworking can burn anywhere from 65-400 calories per hour, depending on the intensity of the activity. 

How Leisure Activities And Calories Burned Are Calculated

The calories burned from leisure activities are calculated using the MET value of each activity. The Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) is the ratio between the metabolic rate of a specific physical activity and the baseline metabolic rate at rest. MET values provide a convenient way to compare energy expenditure across different activities or between people with different body weights. 

To accurately calculate how many calories you burn while doing an activity, multiply your body weight by the MET value and then multiply that result by the duration of the leisure activity in hours. You can find MET values at  The Compendium of Physical Activities.

Here is a quick chart of 50 leisure activities and the minimum potential calories burned per hour for a 143 lb. or 65kg. person, when participating. Of course, the value of calories burned will increase if the movement and intensity of participation increase, as well as individual factors such as age, weight, height, and fitness level.

Leisure ActivityMinimum Calories Burned Per Hour
For a 143lb/65kg. person
Badminton 265
Basketball 235
Bird Watching110
Bowling 165
Boxing 345
Cross Country Skiing40
Dancing 275
Darts 65
Fishing 40
Horseback Riding110
Ice Skating265
Jumping Rope440
Listening To Music65
Paddle Boarding200
Painting 65
Ping Pong120
Playing A Musical Instrument52
Playing Board Game52
Playing Video Games52
Reading 33
Rock Climbing378
Salsa Dancing 175
Shopping 65
Sitting In The Sun 5
Snow Shoeing80
Tai Chi110
Walking 150
Watching TV 33
Woodworking 65
Leisure Activities – Estimated Calories Burned Per Hour

Final Thoughts

Leisure activities are a great way to stay active and burn calories while having fun. Whether you’re dancing, playing music or doing yoga, all of these activities will have some benefit for your overall health. The key is to find an activity that suits your personality and level of fitness and make sure to do it regularly in order to maximize the calorie-burning potential.

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