Staying active this holiday season

As the year winds down with Christmas dinners and end of year parties planned, it can be natural to indulge a little. Your social calendar may take over your exercise and even your work schedule but don’t fear, there are other ways to burn some calories this festive season. Don’t let the cholesterol and high blood pressure sneak up on you, here are a few ways to stay active. All the activities below are calculated for 60 minutes for a female of 60kg and 35 years old. For men it would be slightly less. If you are a bit older or weigh more than 60 kg, you will burn slightly more calories.

Dancing = 492 calories

Christmas parties are a fantastic opportunity to let your hair down and dance off the extra glass (or two) of wine or that chocolate brownie.

Playing with children (running, vigorous play, only when active) = 366 calories
It feels like it should be more, right? If they are your own children, then you will probably be running after them the entire day which should add up in the end. If you perhaps have a few nieces and nephews, put in the extra time to play with them if you see them during the holidays (and get a mini workout too). On that same note, pushing a stroller for 60 minutes burns around 252 calories.

Cleaning and cooking = 208 + 208 = 416 calories

Having guests over? Doing a bit of spring cleaning, such as sweeping the carpets and floors, and preparing a meal can use as much as 416 calories in 2 hours. Some of us do a bit more and some do a bit less, which is absolutely fine.

Carrying groceries upstairs = 473 calories

So perhaps don’t do that thing where you carry as many grocery bags as possible in one go, try go back a few times to burn more calories. It’s not really the weight of the packets, more about the exertion of going up and down the stairs that gets your heart rate up. Unloading packages for an hour is a bit unrealistic, other things such as carrying a load of laundry, a small child etc also count.

Ice skating = 365 calories

Seasonal ice skating rinks often open over the festive season, mostly in colder places in the northern hemisphere. This is calculated at a recreational pace, if you are a bit more adventurous or advanced, you can burn 567 calories by doing a bit more vigorous skating. For those living in warmer climates, roller blading as an alternative can use up to 441 calories/hour.

Skiing = 441 calories

Although not everyone enjoys or are able to go on a skiing holiday, for those that do, it is an excellent form of exercise. Most will know how tiring it is after a few hours. No need to feel too guilty about those chocolate brownies after a day on the slopes.
Holiday activities aside, one of the best ways to burn calories is skipping rope which will equal 775 calories/hour. One of the least effective ways is lying on the couch which uses 63 calories/hour.

Here are a few more activities and their energy expenditure:

  • Walking the dog = 189 calories
  • Shopping = 145 calories
  • Doing Laundry = 252 calories
  • Jogging = 441 calories
  • Cycling to work = 428 calories

This information is not intended to encourage people to start counting calories, rather to help inspire readers to stay active this holiday whether by dancing at the Christmas party, playing with children, cooking dinner for guests or planning fun outings such as ice skating. So, if you intend to indulge a little this holiday season, stay on top of your health by staying active.

2011 Compendium of Physical Activities published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise