Can Black Friday Shopping Count As A Workout?

By Hanna Brooks Olsen for

The day after Thanksgiving, the last thing you'll be thinking about is weight loss. And if you're debating about whether or not you should hit the gym to make up for yesterday's edible indiscretions, if the alternative is getting up and moving long before the sun shines for Black Friday, you may actually want to skip your run and go shopping instead -- it burns more calories than you think.

Assuming that all you do is wander the aisles from the hours of 5 a.m. until 11 a.m. or noon, you'll have been walking, on and off, for a total of 6 or more hours. Which, even at a very, very leisurely pace (unlikely if you're caught up in the rush of deal-hunting), can burn around 600 calories (according to SparkPeople's calorie estimator), depending on your size and fitness level. Which is about as must two to three pieces of pie, or a serving of stuffing, a side of cranberries, and half a roll.

But if you're walking briskly (and not pushing a cart, or lifting deeply-discounted microwaves and flat-screen TVs), you could burn up to 900 or more calories -- just from being there. Add a little shivering (which burns calories) while you were waiting outside the store, plus some trying on of clothes and a bit of carrying and lifting, and you're looking at burning as many as 1,500 calories over the course of six hours.

If you're less concerned about calories, and more worried about building lean muscle, shopping can still be a physical challenge. Offer to lift, carry, and push the cart every chance you get, and throw in a few lunges and other checkout-line moves, and you'll get a miniature resistance workout that may rival what many people put in at the gym.

As a general rule of thumb, skipping your workout in favor of shopping probably isn't the wisest for your wallet or your well-being. But on special days and around the holidays, stressing out over how much you ate and how much you're burning just isn't worth it -- especially if it turns out that racing through the aisles and waiting in line with friends is enough to give your metabolism a much-needed post-Thanksgiving boost.