Find out whether you can actually burn calories by watching TV and what to expect in terms of results.
Anything you do, even sleeping, just sitting still, and watching TV, requires a certain amount of energy (calories) from your body.
An important thing to keep in mind is that you would already burn a lot of these calories, by just being alive and even more by doing other things.
In simpler words, the rough estimations below may sound nice but you are likely already burning this amount of calories. The TV watching does not add anything.
With that in mind, the average person can expect to burn around 38 – 66+ calories while watching TV for 30 minutes.
To burn more calories while enjoying a movie or TV show, you can consider investing in something like a pedal exerciser.
You can also find more detailed estimations, more examples of ways to burn more calories while watching TV, and how this compares to sleep later in the article.
Estimations calories burned while watching TV
One way to estimate how many calories you burn while doing something like watching TV is looking at MET values.
These are rough estimations of how intense certain activities and workouts are.
You can then insert the MET values in the formula below to get an idea of the number of calories burned.
Formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute
One example of an MET estimation for sitting quietly and watching TV is 1.3 (1).
You could get slightly different results depending on your level of fidgeting but this should not influence things too much either.
To save you some time and effort, I created a table with estimations of the calories burned while watching TV for different body weights and time intervals.
After that, you can find charts with calorie-burning estimations of activities you can do while watching TV and how watching TV compares to sleeping in terms of calorie burning.
You will likely find it easier to put all these numbers into perspective by knowing that 100 grams of boiled potatoes is about 126 calories (2).
Calories burned while watching TV
Keep in mind that you would already burn many of these calories if you were sitting completely still.
That means adding more time watching TV will barely add any calories burned.
You could evenreduce how many calories you burn in the bigger picture if you would normally do something more active instead of watching TV.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||1 calorie||19 calories||38 calories||58 calories||77 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||2 calories||24 calories||48 calories||71 calories||95 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||2 calories||28 calories||57 calories||85 calories||114 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||2 calories||33 calories||66 calories||99 calories||132 calories|
Calories burned TV watching activities
One upside of watching TV is that you can combine it with other activities relatively easily.
In turn, these other activities can help you increase the number of calories you burn while “watching TV”.
At the same time, you can still enjoy your favorite movies and TV shows.
In the table below you can find estimations of calories burned while sitting and fidgeting your feet, using a pedal exerciser, using a stationary bike at moderate effort, etc. when doing the activity for 30 minutes.
TV Watching Activity
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||185 Pounds (83 kg)||215 Pounds (97 kg)|
|Just Watching TV||48 calories||57 calories||66 calories|
|66 calories||79 calories||91 calories|
|Mild Stretching||84 calories||101 calories||117 calories|
|128 calories||153 calories||178 calories|
|139 calories||166 calories||193 calories|
|249 calories||297 calories||345 calories|
Calories burned watching TV vs sleeping
Many people then justifiably wonder how many calories sleeping would burn compared to watching TV.
In the table below, you can find the rough estimations for doing the “activities” for 30 minutes.
As you can see, watching TV does burn slightly more calories than sleeping.
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||38 calories||28 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||48 calories||35 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||57 calories||42 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||66 calories||48 calories|
How does watching TV burn calories?
Watching TV burns calories in a few different ways.
The main one is that just staying alive, making your heart work, breathing, thinking, etc. burn energy aka calories.
Secondly, watching TV burns slightly more calories than sleeping because there is a certain amount muscle engagement involved in sitting upright and fidgeting.
In turn, this requires slightly more energy than doing nothing.
Things that influence calories burned while watching TV
The charts above are rough estimations but you want to keep in mind that will likely burn different amounts of calories while watching TV.
This is because there are a variety of details that influence your results in terms of energy usage.
Knowing about the examples below can help you improve your estimations to some extent but more importantly, can help you burn more calories while watching TV.
- Weight: How much you weigh plays a role in how many calories your body needs to keep you alive and in turn, to watch TV.
- Body composition: Your ratio of muscle vs fat influences your energy usage too. More specifically, a certain amount of muscle burns more calories than the same weight in body fat.
- How “active” are you: There is a difference between watching TV while completely sitting still vs fidgeting with your hands and feet. The second type will burn more calories.
Ways to burn more calories while watching TV
With the things above, you can then implement habits to increase the number of calories you burn per minute of watching TV.
The most effective way will be adding active habits.
In simpler words, using a pedal exerciser, doing bodyweight exercises, riding a stationary bike, etc. while watching TV.
Another option is building muscle with workouts outside of your TV watching sessions.
By gaining extra muscle mass, you add healthy weight and in turn, calorie-burning with everything you do.
Including while enjoying a movie or TV show.
Can you lose weight from watching TV?
In theory, going from sitting completely to watching TV could put you over the calorie edge a tiny amount and temporarily help you lose a tiny amount of fat.
In practice, most other activities will burn more calories than watching TV.
At the same time, you can lose weight while watching TV.
However, this will mainly be because of changes in other areas of your lifestyle.
Lifestyle areas like nutrition are even powerful enough to help you lose weight without exercising more.
Should you watch TV if you want to burn calories?
Besides sleeping and sitting completely still, most activities burn more calories than watching TV.
That means if you replace these activities with watching TV you will likely burn fewer calories.
In turn, you definitely don’t just want to watch more TV if you want to burn more calories.
One way to make this activity somewhat less suboptimal is by doing more active things too.
There are a few options that burn nice amounts of calories and yet still allow you to watch TV comfortably.
Besides that, building some muscle with different workouts can help you add some healthy weight and burn more calories while watching TV.
How many calories do you burn sitting watching TV for an hour?
A 155-pound person would burn around 95 calories while sitting watching TV for an hour.
Keep in mind that these are not extra calories. You already burn most of these by just being alive.
Does sleeping or watching TV burn more calories?
Watching TV burns just a few more calories than sleeping due to the upright sitting and fidgeting involved.