9 Surprising Activities That Burn as Many Calories as a 30-Minute Walk

Exercise haters, rejoice! You don't need to hit the gym to burn energy.

Taking a walk is great for your health. It helps you stay active, it's free, and you can do it almost anywhere. For a person who weighs 155 pounds, walking for 30 minutes burns about 149 calories. However, not everyone likes to walk or can walk. However, there are several activities that burn just as many calories as walking, and they may even be part of your normal routine.

woman gardening
Getty Images; Kathrin Ziegler

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the calorie burn for different activities, everything from hiking and running to gardening and dancing. Another article, published by Harvard Medical School, broke out several more different kinds of activity (not just exercise), including outdoor activities and household tasks. Here are nine ways you can burn as many calories as (or even more than!) walking for 30 minutes.


Calories burned in 30 minutes: 167 calories

It's time to get outside and in the dirt. Gardening is a gratifying way to see your work pay off over time. Along with being a good way to get in some movement that doesn't feel like exercise, it is an affordable and sustainable way to put high-quality vegetables on the table.

Playing with Kids

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 149-186 calories

Have kids, grandkids or friends with kids? Spending time playing with little ones is good for them and good for you. Anyone who's spent the day with kids knows it can be exhausting—but playing along is sneaky exercise (and fun!). Playing at a moderate effort with kids burns just as many calories as walking. If you are playing more vigorous games, like hopscotch or tag, you can burn up to 186 calories per half-hour.

Tai Chi

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 149 calories

Besides being a good way to burn calories, tai chi provides several potential health benefits. These include a variety of mental health benefits, including reduced stress and improved mood, according to research published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Try a tai chi class at your local fitness center or through an online video.

Mowing the Lawn

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 167 calories

Unfortunately, riding mowers don't count, but use a push mower and you can up your calorie burn while taking care of your lawn. Makes sense, since you're walking and pushing—but you're also doing double duty and making the yard look nice. The energy you expend mowing is on par with sports like volleyball or badminton.


Calories burned in 30 minutes: 167

Talk about two birds with one stone. Cleaning the house, a normal part of many people's weekly to-do list, can burn more calories than going for a walk. More involved tasks, like vacuuming, scrubbing or washing the car, understandably burn more calories than lower-lift tasks, such as dusting or cleaning counters.

Raking Leaves

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 149 calories

Add this to the list of things you're already doing in the fall, and enjoy its calorie-burning bonus too. Raking may feel like a chore, but it's a great option for getting outside and enjoying the fall weather.

Shoveling Snow

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 223 calories

For those of us who live in places with winter weather, shoveling snow is inevitable. This gives you a reason to embrace getting out and moving even when it's cold. Aside from being a good way to stay moving in the warmer months, clearing your driveway of snow and ice makes it safer for you and your loved ones. Even using a snow blower burns 167 calories in 30 minutes.


Calories burned in 30 minutes: 167-186 calories

Painting is one of the cheapest ways to give your house a makeover. Giving a room a new pop of color burns around 167 calories per half-hour. Painting outdoors boosts the intensity, averaging closer to 186 calories per half-hour. Doing the painting yourself can save you money and help you burn calories.

Coaching Sports

Calories burned in 30 minutes: 149 calories

You don't need to be an athlete to get in on the calorie burn of sporting events. The comprehensive Harvard report found that coaching a sports team burns around 150 calories per 30 minutes of game time, whether it's from standing or moving around to coordinate with a team. This is a great way to get involved in sports without being on the field.

Bottom Line

This list is just the start, but there are many things that burn just as many calories as going for a walk. When trying to lose or maintain weight and stay healthy, it is important to find ways to add movement into your day. The key to sticking with an exercise routine is finding tasks that you enjoy and that are realistic for your lifestyle. These ideas show that burning calories can be accomplished outside the box of conventional exercise.

Read more:

These Are the 5 Best Exercises to Help You Lose Weight

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