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Calories Burned While Watching TV

For many people watching some TV is a part of their daily life. An interesting fact is that you burn a certain number of calories while doing this.

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, if not all and more, by just being alive and doing other things.

The calorie-burning estimations below are interesting but you would not burn all of these extra by adding TV watching sessions. You will even burn fewer calories if the alternative activity is more intense.

The average person can expect to burn around 38 – 66+ calories while 30 minutes of watching TV. This number will vary from individual to individual due to a variety of factors.

For example, a 125-pound (56 kg) individual will burn around 38 calories during 30 minutes of watching TV.

On the other hand, a 215-pound (97 kg) individual will burn around 66 calories while watching TV for the same duration at the same “intensity”.

Luckily, watching TV is relatively easy to combine with certain other activities that do help you burn nice amounts of extra calories.

This article will also show you a more detailed chart that takes multiple factors into account, how many calories these other TV watching activities can help you burn, the difference between watching TV and sleeping, and more.

Biggest influences on calories burned

A fact that many people find annoying is that the number of calories you burn while doing something like watching TV is hard to predict and measure correctly.

This fact can make things like weight loss feel like a guessing game when you are trying to balance these numbers with the calories in food.

Even so, good estimations for the number of calories burned while watching TV can be a helpful starting point. By taking a few important factors into account you can make your estimations more accurate.

Some of the biggest factors that influence how many calories you burn while watching TV include:

  • Weight: To move around, and even just stay alive, your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more you weigh, the more energy your body needs to stay alive and fuel its movements.
  • Body composition: Body composition is how much of your body weight is made up of different tissue. Two people can weigh the same but for one individual most of the weight can come from fat while the second individual has a lot of muscle. The reason that is important is that the same weight of muscle requires more energy than that weight in fat.
  • How “active” are you: At first, watching TV sounds like something that is the same intensity for everyone. However, even simple things like fidgeting while watching TV help you burn extra calories. Some people do more of this than others.

Estimations calories burned while watching TV

To calculate calories burned during certain activities you can use a formula with MET values.

A MET value is an activity-specific value to indicate how intense a specific type of movement is. This number represents how many times more intense the activity is compared to sitting completely still.

You can use this in the following formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200 = calories burned per minute

One MET estimation for sitting quietly and watching TV is 1.3 (1). This can vary slightly depending on how much you are fidgeting but is generally close to this.

The first table below will show estimations for 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.

To put these estimations into perspective, 100 grams of boiled potatoes contains about 87 calories (2).

Calories burned while watching TV

One of the most convenient ways to see how many calories you burned while watching TV is by looking at how much time you spent doing it.

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 and possibly reduce how many calories you burn depending on what you would do instead of this activity.

Time
Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds (56 kg)1 calorie19 calories38 calories58 calories77 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)2 calories24 calories48 calories71 calories95 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)2 calories28 calories57 calories85 calories114 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)2 calories33 calories66 calories99 calories132 calories
Chart of calories burned while watching TV

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”.

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.

Weight Person
TV Watching Activity
155 Pounds (70 kg)185 Pounds (83 kg)215 Pounds (97 kg)
Just Watching TV48 calories57 calories66 calories
Sitting, Fidgeting
Feet
66 calories79 calories91 calories
Mild Stretching84 calories101 calories117 calories
Using Pedal
Exerciser
128 calories153 calories178 calories
Moderate Effort
Bodyweight Exercises
(Squats, Lunges,…)
139 calories166 calories193 calories
Stationary Bike
(Moderate Effort)
249 calories297 calories345 calories
Calories burned per 30 minutes of TV watching activities

Calories burned watching TV vs sleeping

As mentioned before, the numbers above may sound impressive but you have to keep in mind that sleeping and just being alive burns calories.

Below you can see the comparison in calories burned between 30 minutes of watching vs sleeping. Watching TV burns slightly more calories than just sleeping.

Activity Type
Weight Person
Watching TVSleeping
125 Pounds (56 kg)38 calories28 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)48 calories35 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)57 calories42 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)66 calories48 calories
Chart of calories burned watching TV vs sitting

Ways to burn more calories while watching TV

The number of calories burned while watching TV is certainly not something set in stone.

A challenge for most people is fitting in activities in their busy schedules. They want to burn as many calories in the least amount of time, which means burning more calories per minute of watching TV.

The main way to do this is by doing more active things like using a pedal exerciser, doing bodyweight exercises, riding a stationary bike, etc. while watching TV at the same time.

Additionally, you can build some extra muscle mass outside of your TV watching sessions with other exercises. This adds weight in a healthy way and in turn, helps you burn more calories.

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.

That being said, you can definitely lose weight while watching TV but this will mainly be because of changes in other areas of your lifestyle.

You can even lose weight without exercising more so there are many factors besides how much you move throughout the day that influence this.

Conclusion

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.

One way to resolve this is by doing more active things while watching TV. There are a few options that burn nice amounts of calories and yet still allow you to watch TV comfortably.

If burning calories is your main goal and you regularly watch TV (or do anything else), implementing some exercises in your schedule specifically for building muscle can be helpful.

The extra muscle mass will help you burn more calories day in, day out, including during your TV watching sessions.

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Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.

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