Which Exercise Burns More Calories: Brisk Walking or Grocery Shopping?

by Christina Lee, Demand Media
    Grocery shopping has unexpected exercise benefits.

    Grocery shopping has unexpected exercise benefits.

    So, you're wondering what kinds of everyday activities will give you exercise on days when you don't have time to do an activity like brisk walking. You've heard you can burn calories throughout the day by doing mundane things like taking the stairs and walking the length of the parking lot. But grocery shopping can provide a pretty thorough full-body workout too. If you do it with enough intensity, it can rival your usual walking workout.

    The Numbers

    According to Mayoclinic.com, one hour of brisk walking at about 3.5 miles her per burns around 314 calories. Grocery shopping is a little bit less efficient than walking, but you can still get a significant workout from it. Oprah.com says you can burn about 210 calories in an hour of grocery shopping, plus 15 minutes of stocking new groceries at home. And if you have to carry them up any stairs, you can add 85 calories to the tally, coming in at 295 total calories. That's pretty comparable to the calories you burn during a walk.

    Benefits of Walking

    Walking is America's most common form of exercise. It's very accessible to most people, and you can do it almost anywhere. It doesn't cost any money if you walk outdoors, and it's a terrifically low-impact exercise. Plus, when you're outside, inclines and slopes give you the kind of variation that builds muscle and strength in your legs. Mayoclinic.com says it's got many other benefits as well: higher good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and better mood. It also keeps you fit and reduces your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

    Grocery Shopping Fitness Opportunities

    The grocery shopping workout provides fitness opportunities you may not have expected. Try walking lunges while pushing your shopping cart ahead. Work your arms by carrying a gallon of milk or juice in each hand. Do leg lifts and stretches as you move, and walk briskly when there's not a crowd and you can move freely. Maintain good posture, and hold your stomach in to work your abs. In addition to the cardio you're getting, Oprah.com says a good grocery store workout strengthens your shoulders, quadriceps, biceps and calves. Not bad for a trip to the supermarket!

    Other Everyday Activities that Help Make You Fit

    There are boundless ways to burn more calories throughout the day that you may not think about regularly. You can work in your garden, perform household chores, do yard work, play with your children or have sex! You can even choose to stand rather than sit. A 2012 study from the "Journal of Physical Activity and Health" did a study of 20-year-old college students at resting heart rate and found that they burned 34 percent more calories per minute standing than sitting. Some offices have started installing treadmills and other exercise machines at work desks to help workers burn more calories as they work.

    About the Author

    Christina Lee began writing in 2004. Her co-authored essay is included in the edited volume, "Discipline and Punishment in Global Affairs." Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and politics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts in global affairs from American University and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Penn State University.

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