The average person will burn 430-670 calories per hour shoveling.
The number of calories burned depends on your weight and the intensity of digging. A 200-pound (90.7kg) person will burn 477 calories per hour digging a garden and 745 calories per hour digging ditches. A 150-pound (68kg) person will burn 358 and 558 calories per hour in the same scenario.
How many calories are burned digging?
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 shovels dirt (MET value of 5.0) for 1 hour (60 minutes).
Calories burned shovelling dirt (per minute) = (5.0 x 81.65 x 3.5) ÷ 200 = 7.14
Calories burned shovelling dirt (for 60 minutes) = 7.14 x 60 = 428
Sources and more 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 – Occupation – Provides MET values for occupational activities, including shoveling.
- 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.
- Learn to dig a hole with “How to Dig a Hole: Pro Tips” and “15 Expert Tips for Digging Holes” by Family Handyman, “How to Dig a Hole – and Other Pieces of 1,000 Year-Old Wisdom” by Alexander Laglands of Literary Hub, and “Dig a Flat-Bottomed Hole” by Harry Sawyers of This Old House.