How can I burn calories in winter’s cold, dark months?

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How can I burn calories in winter’s cold, dark months?

December 29, 2010, 12:00AM

The end of the year ushers in a busy time of year for many — between working, shopping, shuttling kids around, preparing your home for winter and the holidays, you may wonder if you’ll ever find time to exercise.

But here’s the silver lining — many fall and winter chores have physical activity built in. Raking leaves and pruning roses aren’t a substitute for working out at the gym or going for a brisk walk, but you may be surprised at how many calories you can burn while tackling your to-do list. A little elbow grease here and there can really add up over time to help prevent weight gain.

Here’s an estimate of what you’ll burn with these and other fall and winter tasks:

 

Estimated Calories Burned (30 minutes, 130 lb. person)

Estimated Calories Burned (30 minutes, 150 lb. person)

Estimated Calories Burned (30 minutes, 200 lb. person)

Cooking or baking, manual appliances

62

72

95

Cleaning house or cabin

93

107

143

Leaf blower

109

125

167

Raking leaves

133

154

191

Handheld snow blower

140

161

215

Trimming shrubs or trees, manual cutter

140

161

215

Weeding, cultivating garden

140

161

215

Spreading dirt with shovel

155

179

239

Carrying, loading, or stacking wood

155

179

239

Hanging storm windows

155

179

239

Cleaning gutters

155

179

239

Clearing land, hauling branches

155

179

239

Mowing lawn on foot, power mower

171

197

286

Chopping wood, splitting logs

186

215

286

Shoveling snow

186

215

286

Safety First

As you can see, some very common household tasks and yard work are very strenuous. As with any type of physical activity, use caution when performing chores. If you have a medical condition or risk factors, your doctor may advise against performing physically demanding tasks.  

Snow shoveling, for example, can be extremely dangerous for people with any of the following risk factors: personal history of heart disease or heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a sedentary lifestyle, or smoking. The combination of risk factors, cold air and heavy lifting can be fatal.

If you’re at risk, using a power tool or hiring a local teenager is a better option than attempting to do it yourself. Know your limits — and when it doubt, check with your doctor.

Torch Calories With NEAT

Who doesn’t want to be warm and cozy indoors when the weather outside is frightful? At this time of year, it’s easy to become sedentary — and pack on the pounds. But you can choose to stay fit and healthy no matter what the season with intentional, mindful physical activity. Any time you move your body, you burn calories — and unless it’s a planned workout, the calories you burn with this type of physical activity is called NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis. The fantastic thing about NEAT is that it can account for anywhere from 15% to over 50% of your total daily calorie burn — and you can jack up this amount in a big way with even minor boosts in your daily physical activity. Wearing a pedometer is a great way to track your NEAT — gradually work towards 10,000 steps a day for good health. Whether you’re mopping the kitchen floor, hauling wood, or preparing a holiday feast, it’s motivating to see the steps add up.

Fall Forward

Why not plan to finish the year in better shape than ever? Many fall and winter chores are free exercise opportunities in disguise. Make a habit of seeking them out and welcoming them along with the spiced apple cider each year. If you don’t live in a house, volunteer to help the elderly in your community with seasonal chores. Find ways to keep moving, and you’ll enjoy this beautiful time of year more than ever.

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