10 Everyday Activities That Burn Calories 

If there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that you’re busy.

With work, family, dinner, and everything in between, it can be hard to find time for fitness. 

The good news is that there are everyday activities that burn calories! As a certified personal trainer, I’ll help you discover how much you can burn with running errands and doing house chores!

Here’s what’s coming up. 

What Are Calories?
Amounts of Calories
What Does It Mean To Burn Calories?
10 Everyday Activities That Burn Calories

What Are Calories? 

Calories are units of energy, which comes from the foods and drinks we consume. 

I used this calorie calculator, and this chart from Harvard Health Publishing to give you the calories burned from activities you do!

So if you can’t get to a workout today, doing these everyday activities will at least burn some calories. 

According to the USDA’s 2020 “Dietary Guidelines of Americans,” adult females need 1,600-2,400 calories a day, while adult males need 2,000-3,000 calories a day.

If you want to gain weight then eat more calories, and if you want to lose weight then eat less. Not all calories are equal though. There are low calorie, high calorie, and empty calorie foods.

Amounts of Calories 

Generally, non-meat natural foods like fruits and vegetables are low in calories. Foods that are fried, high in fat, or processed are higher in calories. 

Processed foods are boxed, canned, frozen, baked, pasteurized, or dried. They have added salt, sugar, fat, and preservatives to make them flavorful and extend their shelf life. 

There are exceptions to natural foods being low in calories and processed foods being high in calories.

For example, avocados are high in healthy fats, and dates, raisins, and figs are high in natural sugar, so all these have a higher calorie count.

  • Sodas on the other hand, are low in calories but have no nutritional value. Energy drinks are low in calories and have nutrients, but are high and caffeine, sugar, and preservatives.
  • These beverages are in the category of empty calorie foods. These have little to no nutritional value, but are so yummy that we eat on without a second thought.
  • According to Live Science, empty calorie foods include sugary drinks, baked goods, chocolate and candy, processed meats, condiments, and fast food.

The problem with over indulging on empty calorie foods without exercising is that you add fatty tissue to your body. That’s because your body stores all the calories that you don’t burn as fat. 

What Does It Mean To Burn Calories? 

Burning calories is a term that comes from the fact that your body gives off heat as it uses energy (ATP). Burning calories happens four different ways. 

The first way is that you body burns calories naturally with your metabolism. This is known as your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Your body needs energy to do its basic functions. Metabolism is the rate at which your body uses up the energy you get from what you eat or drink. 

People with high metabolisms can generally eat more without gaining weight, while people with low metabolisms gain weight easily.

The second way your body burns calories is from the thermic effect of food (TEF). In the process of digestion, you chew food and it goes into your stomach through your intestines.

Your small intestine takes the nutrients out of food and sends it all across your body. Your body will burn calories through this entire process. 

The third way your body burns calories is during exercise. The amount of calories you burn depends on the duration and intensity of the exercise.

Weight lifting workouts are anaerobic and may not burn as many calories as light cardio on rest days.

The fourth way is everyday activities that burn calories. These are are called non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT.

These can vary based on the kinds of activities you’re doing. Keep reading below to find the calories burned for chores you’ll probably do this week. 

10 Everyday Activities That Burn Calories 

House Work 

everyday activities that burn calories

If you’re like me then the house needs a good cleaning every week or two. There’s nothing like that feeling of a freshly cleaned living area to make you go “ahh.”

So when you’re cleaning your place, remember that it’s part of everyday activities that burn calories!

House work in general will get you 150 to 300 calories burned based on your body weight and duration of activity. 

1. Clean the Tub

This will make your shoulder and arms burn! The scrubbing and rinsing will also add some awkward leg positions if you have a bigger build. To make it extra, change the shower curtains after you’re done cleaning. 

2. Vacuum

Unless you have a lightweight vacuum, you know how tough it is to lug a full size up a flight of stairs! That in itself is some good cardio.

Besides that, walking around the house, keeping the extension cord untangled, and outstretching your arm is sure to be everyday activities that burn calories.

You’re looking at 110 to 170 calories for 30 minutes of vacuuming.

3. Do the Laundry 

It’s shocking how heavy laundry baskets can get after a couple weeks of soiled clothes. Bending to load and unload clothes into the machines, sorting, and then folding takes time and energy.

You’ll burn 50 to 100 calories whiles doing these.

4. Mop the Floor 

When the floors get gunk, scuff, and sticky stuff ,you know it’s time to clean the floor. Wether you’re a traditional mop and bucket person, or you like the ease of the newest cleaning tech, get your mopping groove on.

Outstretching your arms and maneuvering with your feet is a way to get up and get moving.

You’ll burn 100 to 200 calories while mopping. Here’s more everyday activities that burn calories while not at home.

Everyday Activities
Not At Home 

Of course your errands will take you past the front door and into the great…out there.

When you’re out and about, remember you’re burning calories with every step you take. Walking is the simplest and one of the most effective way to keep the pounds off. 

5. Walk For Longer 

We get so used to convenience that it can make us lead sedentary lifestyles. Break out of that habit by walking a little bit to get to where you need to go.

Park a little further and enjoy the nice breeze, or take the stairs instead of the escalator.

It’s take just a little more time, but your body will thank you with those extra steps. You can even practice self-gratitude on the way.

 6. Shopping and Groceries 

Remember the grocery shopping game “Shop Till You Drop?” You don’t have to run through the grocery aisles like they did in order to win a prize, but they had a good point.

Cart or no cart, weaving through the aisles of grocery stores and malls is a perfect way to get your steps in. More everyday activities that burn calories can be done outside.

Taking Everyday
Activities Outside

When I was younger, I had to do yard work every weekend. I despised the toil of making everything look good, but as I grew up I began to appreciate the serenity of working with plants.

If you have a yard, don’t let it get all crazy. There’s something to do every season. Take some time to upkeep your property and you’ll have more everyday activities that burn calories while you do it. 

7. Spring: Plant Flowers Pull Weeds 

There’s nothing like the beauty of flowers in bloom in Spring. Well, they aren’t going to plant themselves. Buy some of your favorites plant them to spruce up your yard.

A necessary evil is pulling those pesky weeds. Grab a weed killer to make things easier. You’ll burn 130 to 200 calories while planting. 

8. Summer: Mow the Lawn

Ever seen those yards where the grass is half a foot tall? Don’t let that be you! Avoid the blistering heat by mowing your lawn earlier in the day or later in the evening.

Mow your lawn as needed to have a nice looking yard, but also to burn from 130 up to 230 calories. 

9. Autumn: Rake the Leaves 

If you grew up like me, then you had trees in your yard. Fall time was beautiful with the shades of colors, but it was a nightmare when those leaves fell and covered everything.

I liked to wait till the tress were almost bare before doing my raking. Who doesn’t like jumping in a pile of leaves? You’ll burn 120 to 170 calories raking leaves. 

10. Winter: Shovel the Snow

Be careful with this one if you have back or heart problems. You don’t want to hurt yourself or cause unnecessary strain.

However, if you’re able bodied and have to get your car out, then shovel away. This one is definitely good cardio and strength training. You’ll burn 200 to 250 calories. 

Bottom Line 

Somedays you might not have time to dedicate to fitness, but you can still participate in everyday activities that burn calories.

So sit less and move more. Your body will thank you! 

If you want more about everyday exercises, check out this Daily Health Boost: 15 Essential Exercises.


Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!