Your Pick: Barn Chores or Gym Workout?

December 01, 2017

woman on farm spreading hay

Who says you have to go to the gym to burn calories and tone your muscles? If you care for or ride horses, you can get a great workout without ever setting foot on a treadmill or lifting a dumbbell.

Riding and barn chores require serious physical exertion; and the more horses you have, the more work there is to do. So why not kill two birds with one stone by making your work a workout?

Calories Burned Grooming and Riding

By using a calorie-burning calculator on Nutracheck, you can find out how many calories your horse-related activities burn. (Since this is a U.K.-based tool, sample weight is displayed in grams for non-members).

We checked approximate calories burned by somone weighing 65g (the equivalent of 143 lbs) and performing horse-related activities for 30 minutes. We then checked how many calories are burned during some common gym exercises.

Finally, we listed the calorie counts for a selection of foods, so you can get an idea of how many gym exercises or chores you have to do to burn off that doughnut or pizza you indulged in:

Horse Care/Riding Activities
  • Grooming – 218
  • Hand walking – 110
  • Lunging – 140
  • General horseback riding – 145
  • Walking – 72
  • Working Trot – 175
  • Cantering – 226
  • Racing/Galloping – 290
  • Mucking stalls – 228
  • Carrying feed bags – 125
  • Sweeping the barn – 88
  • Emptying a wheel barrow – 146
  • Unloading/stacking hay bales – 358
  • Unloading/stacking straw bales – 257
Calorie-Burning Comparisons

By comparison, following is the approximate number of calories you would burn in 30 minutes at the gym:

  • General jogging – 254
  • Nordic walking (3.5 mph) – 200
  • Moderate cycling – 253
  • General aerobics – 218
  • Swimming leisurely – 218
  • Sit-ups – 290
  • Step aerobics – 269
  • Pilates (moderate effort) – 138
  • Zumba (moderate) – 168
  • Weight lifting (light/moderate) – 109
  • Yoga – 145

Of course, everyone burns calories at different rates, depending on height, weight, and how vigorously they work. But it's safe to say that a day at the barn can be just as much of a workout as a day at the gym — if not better. The calorie loss can really add up throughout your day as you go through your routine. How many times have you chased a renegade horse or changed a tire on your trailer or truck? How often do you put shavings in the stalls? It all adds up.

Burning Off Lunch

Next time you're ready to head to the barn, you can use the figures supplied above to figure out how many calories you need to burn before your lunch is a wash. 

Just to give you a general idea of the effort you'll have to put in to do that, here's a list of the calories in some barn-friendly foods found on (these are approximate):

  • PB&J sandwich – 327
  • Regular potato chips – 160/oz
  • One apple – 72
  • Carrots (14 baby) – 35
  • Chocolate pudding cup – 157
  • Turkey & cheese sub (6 inch) – 380
  • Pepperoni pizza (2 slices) – 640
  • Chocolate pound cake (one average slice) – 379
  • Krispy Kreme doughnut (1 original glazed) – 190
  • Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Latte (Grande) – 120
  • Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Grande – 240
  • 1 can Pepsi – 150
  • Sweet tea (16 oz) – 160 calories.

So, given the choice between burning off lunch at the gym or in the barn, what's your pleasure?

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