10 Activities That Burn More Calories Than You Think

Both biking and kissing burn more calories than you might have guessed.
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Fun fact: Chess players can burn up to 6,000 calories a day during a tournament, according to ESPN. That number is based on "breathing rates (which triple during competition), blood pressure (which elevates) and muscle contractions before, during and after major tournaments," putting their stress response on par with elite athletes.


But if you're not a Grandmaster or elite marathoner, you might be wondering if there are activities that burn more calories than you'd expect. The good news? There are tons of ways to increase the burn throughout the day, especially when you consider that your body burns calories doing ‌anything and everything‌.

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Below are 10 such activities. Unless noted otherwise, the activities listed below represent the calories burned for a 125-pound person, 155-pound person and 185-pound person for one hour of activity. Several factors, such as your weight, age, sex and intensity of the activity, determine the number of calories you can burn.

1. Biking to Work

Sure, you might have to stop for a red light or dodge a few car doors, but biking to work not only has a positive impact on the environment, it also benefits your wallet and burns a ton of calories too.

"Your legs are the biggest muscles in your body, and when you're using them as you do with biking, your heart rate rises, causing you to burn a lot of calories," says Greg James, NASM-certified personal trainer with RSP Nutrition. Add in the steep hills and long city blocks, and you'll be reaching your goals in no time. You can also incorporate intervals, where you alternate between short, intense bursts of biking with slower-paced recovery periods.


Calories burned:‌ 480/596/710

Read more:11 Amazing Benefits of Biking

2. Gardening

Yes, gardening can count toward your physical activity for the day, especially if you're carrying heavy loads, digging out plants, pushing a heavy wheelbarrow and of course, squatting up and down.


If you want to boost the burn, move at a faster pace, focus on digging and hauling and consciously engage your core the entire time. And if you want to target different muscle groups, try switching hands when using a shovel or gardening tool.

Calories burned‌: 270/334/400


3. Having Sex

If the idea of grinding it out on the treadmill for your daily calorie burn has you hiding in bed, then you're in luck. The results of one October 2013 study published in PLOS ONE found that sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, a significant exercise. While the exact figures may vary, the researches found that the mean energy expenditure during sex is approximately 3.1 kcal/minute for women and 4.2 kcal/minute for men.


Calories burned:‌ 186 women/253 men (no weight designation)

4. Indoor Rowing

The next time you're at the gym, you might want to skip the elliptical and give the rowing machine a go. Depending on your weight and age, Hannah Viva, NASM-certified personal trainer, lead coach and facility leader of a Fit Body Boot Camp in California, says rowing at maximum effort can burn about 800 or more calories in one hour.


"When your body is putting in the extra work and moving faster than normal, this movement works as both a cardio and strength training exercises," she says. Rowing is also versatile in that you can do your workout at a consistent, steady pace or mix in some HIIT intervals.

On top of your heart working harder, Viva says the pulling and pushing of rowing is also a great form of resistance training, targeting your arms, upper back, legs and core. By building up these muscles, it allows your body to burn more and more calories at a quicker rate.


Calories burned:‌ 420/520/622

Read more:How to Rock Your First Rowing Class

5. Kissing

While the calories burned during a steamy make-out session with your partner may not be the first thing you think about, it turns out, kissing burns a significant amount of calories. Depending on the type of kiss, your face muscles go into overdrive, allowing you to turn it on slowly or make-out like teenagers.



Since kissing involves actively engaging the muscles in your face, you're going to burn more calories smooching than you would at rest. If your pace involves simple kissing, you can expect to burn, on average, two to three calories per minute. Up the intensity with some passionate kissing, and you could burn five to 26 calories per minute, according to a June 2013 study published in ‌The American Journal of Medicine‌.

Calories burned:‌ 120/180/240 (based on two, three and four calories per minute, with no weight designated)

6. Sledding

If you think you're too old for sledding, think again. Not only does this awesome activity boost your heart rate and work your core, but it's also a ton of fun. The work comes in when you have to walk your way back up to the top (unless you're lucky enough to have someone driving you back up the hill, but that's cheating in this case). Bonus: The trek uphill means extra work for your glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves.

Calories burned:‌ 420/520/622

7. Raking Leaves

If you're looking for a way to clean up your yard while squeezing in a workout, then you're in luck. Morgan Rees, an ACE-certified personal trainer, says you can burn quite a few calories raking leaves. But even better? Rees recommends turning this chore into a fun HIIT session.

"In order to increase the intensity, rake as hard as you can for one minute, followed by one minute of raking at a moderate intensity," she says. Alternate between moderate and high intensity until you're finished, and you'll not only have a clean yard, but you'll also be done with your workout for the day. For an extra challenge, Rees says to alternate the way you hold the rake, so you're not only using one arm.


Calories burned‌: 240/298/356

8. Hand Washing Your Car

Skip the line at the car wash and head for home instead. Washing your car by hand not only gets it cleaner, but it also gives you the chance to scorch some serious calories. "When cleaning the outside of the car, increase the speed of your movements while switching hands every few minutes," says Rees.

And rather than taking a break to get on your phone or sit down, continue washing until the entire outside of the car is clean and dry. In addition to a hefty calorie burn, you'll also do plenty of stretching, bending and lunges.

Calories burned:‌ 270/334/400

Read more:7 Fun Summer Activities That Burn the Most Calories

9. Cleaning the House

Keeping your house in tip-top shape requires a lot of scrubbing, vacuuming, mopping and organizing. While the end result is typically a cleaner home, you can also burn a ton of calories. To maximize the calorie burn, try balancing on one leg while cleaning the kitchen counters or wear a weighted backpack while vacuuming.

Calories burned:‌ 270/334/400

10. Yoga

The next time you're in Chair pose or Downward-Facing Dog, think about all the muscles you're using to execute these moves. In order to perform these poses, you need to recruit some of the largest muscles in the body (aka the glutes), which means more calories burned.

But it's not just your lower body that contributes to the higher than expected calorie burn. You also rely on the muscles in your core and upper body to help hold yourself in these positions, which is a lot harder than it seems.

Calories burned:‌ 240/298/356

Read more:10 Best Yoga Poses for Beginners



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