The average person will burn 150-250 calories per hour driving a car and 80-130 calories per hour as a passenger.
The number of calories burned driving will depend on your weight and whether you are driving or a passenger. A 200-pound (90.7kg) person will burn 239 calories per hour driving and 124 calories as a passenger. A 150-pound (68kg) person will burn 179 and 93 calories per hour doing the same activities.
How many calories are burned from driving?
Calories burned per minute = (MET x body weight in Kg x 3.5) ÷ 200
“MET” is a measurement of the energy cost of physical activity for a period of time. You can find an activity’s MET on the chart above.
A task with a MET of 1 is roughly equal to a person’s energy expenditure from sitting still at room temperature not actively digesting food.
A task with a MET of 2 uses twice as much energy as a task with a MET of 1. A task with a MET of 10 uses 10 times as much energy as a task with a MET of 1.
MET values “do not estimate the energy cost of physical activity in individuals in ways that account for differences in body mass, adiposity, age, sex, efficiency of movement, geographic and environmental conditions in which the activities are performed. Thus, individual differences in energy expenditure for the same activity can be large and the true energy cost for an individual may or may not be close to the stated mean MET level as presented in the Compendium.” (as quoted from the main page of the Compendium of Physical Activities).
A person weighs 180 pounds (81.65kg) and drives a light truck (a task that has a MET value of 2.5) for 1 hour (60 minutes).
Calories Burned from driving a light truck (per minute) = (2.5 x 81.65 x 3.5) ÷ 200 = 3.57
Calories Burned from driving a light truck (for 60 minutes) = 3.57 x 60 = 214
Sources and External Resources
- Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, Meckes N, Bassett Jr DR, Tudor-Locke C, Greer JL, Vezina J, Whitt-Glover MC, Leon AS. The Compendium of Physical Activities Tracking Guide. Healthy Lifestyles Research Center, College of Nursing & Health Innovation, Arizona State University. Retrieved May 11, 2015, from the World Wide Web.
- Arizona State University Healthy Lifestyles Research Center – Compendium of Physical Activities – Transportation – Provides MET values for transportation activities, including driving.
- Learn about “MET” and the compendium of physical activities from Arizona State University, University or South Carolina, and Wikipedia. There is a summary of general physical activities defined by intensity from the CDC and the Harvard School of Public Health.
- Recommendations on physical activity for health from the Harvard School of Public Health and the WHO.
- Could driving be hazardous to your health? Find out with “Walking, biking instead of driving offers significant health benefits” by Kelsey McClelland of The Collegian, “Driving is hazardous to your health by WebMD, “Find out why sitting all day may be bad for you & how to change that” by Deanne Winslett of Truckers News, and “Do You Know the Health Risks of Driving? by Noah Rue of The Doctor Weighs In.
- Could your commute be killing you? Find out with “Driving: A Road to Unhealthy Lifestyles and Poor Health Outcomes” by Ding, Gebel, Phongsavan, Bauman, and Merom on PLOS One and “10 Things Your Commute Does to Your Body” by Carolyn Kylstra of Time.